For most of the 20th century, beer was banned in Iceland. Since 1989, we’ve been doing our best to catch up and seasonal beers are becoming an increasingly popular part of the holiday season. There are no rules on what constitutes a Christmas beer but these festive drinks tend to be a bit darker and stronger than your everyday lagers. The Christmas beers are only available for a limited time. They appear in bars and on Vínbúðin shelves on November 4 and disappear again when Christmas decorations go down or when the batch sells out – whichever comes first.
Read this article for a taste of what’s available!
Ölvisholt is a microbrewery located at an old dairy farm in Selfoss, South Iceland. Ölvisholt jólabjór is a 7.2% smoked bock beer with a sweet, strong taste and medium bitterness with a good balance between smoke, hops, and malt. It has tones of roasted malt, burnt sugar, smoke, and dried fruit. It is a German-style bock, characterised by smoked malt. Ingredients include malted barley, hops, and cloves.
Litla Brugghúsið jóla hvað?
Litla Brugghúsið is a microbrewery located on the northern tip of the Reykjanes peninsula, run by three beer-enthusiasts. Their Christmas beer is a 5% golden and cloudy, sweet and slightly bitter beer. It has tones of gingerbread, toasted corn, cloves, and orange. It’s a fruity spice beer that is best enjoyed after dinner, with a chocolatey dessert.
Kaldi’s Christmas beer has been on the market since 2008. It’s a classic Christmas beer, or as close to it as you can get, as there is no real consensus on what constitutes a Christmas beer. JólaKaldi is a bit darker than most lager beers and has a bit higher ABV, along with a malty, spicy and orange-infused flavour, marking it as a seasonal favourite.
Ölvisholt Jóla Jora
Ölvisholt Jóla Jora is a 9.2% spiced imperial stout. It’s a dark, thick beer with a sweet and spicy flavour. Inspiration for this beer comes from the brew master’s grandmother’s lagkaka, an Icelandic layered spice cake with buttercream – the beer is brewed with the same spices and same feelings in mind. It’s a perfect dessert beer for sharing among friends and family. Ingredients include malted barley, hops, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.
Ölverk Grýla Jólabjór
Grýla is a 5.2% red beer by Ölverk brewery and pizza restaurant in Hveragerði, South Iceland. Hveragerði has a number of hot springs and this beer is brewed with geothermal heat. It’s a medium bitter beer with tones of dried fruit and cinnamon. The beer is named after giantess Grýla, who is the mother of Iceland’s 13 Yule Lads. During Christmastime, she comes down from the mountains to hunt disobedient children. Cheers!
Einstök Christmas Ale
Einstök’s effort to bottle the taste of Christmas has paid off in a seasonal ale, perfect to drink in a snug, warm room while it’s snowing outside. This amber 6.7% doppelbock combines a full caramel taste with a subtle chocolate and whisky aftertaste. It pairs well with any Christmas dinner, chocolate desserts included.