The craft beer movement has exploded in Iceland in the past decade. We’ve gone from having one or two craft breweries to having over 20 of them. The quality has skyrocketed at the same time, and of course the number of craft bars has shot up at the same time. Icelandic beer is now world class, and some beers have been awarded internationally as the best in their class.
If you want to find the best beer in Reykjavik and Iceland this is the list for you. This is not every craft bar in Reykjavik, by any means, but it is a list of a few of my favourites. I take into account atmosphere, price and selection. Now, I have not visited every single bar in Reykjavik with a craft beer selection, so there are almost certainly places that are missing from this list, but it’s a good place to start for the beer lover.
The list includes a few of my favourite breweries as well, most of which you can find in the state run liquor stores. Again, though, the craft beer scene has simply become too rich to keep up with, so I’m sure I’m missing some great stuff. These are good, though. I guarantee it.
And in the interest of self promotion, anybody interested in trying out Icelandic craft beer should check out the Old Harbour Brewery Tour, our unique free walking tour, where we go around the hidden gem of the Old Harbour in Reykjavik, and then end up in Ægisgarður, a craft brewery, where we tour the brewery and then hang out over a drink and have a nice chat. I promise you, you’ll love it.
So, without further ado, lets start diving into Icelandic Beer.
Craft Bars in Reykjavik
Icelandic Craft Bar
The first place I want to mention is not really a craft bar, even though it’s in the title. They have a decent selection of bottled beer, but they only have macro beers on tap. The reason I mention it here, however, is that it is the location of our Golden Beer Circle, so I thought you should know about it. Well, the beer tasting takes place in the Secret Cellar, which is located in the basement of the Icelandic Craft Bar.
It is a very friendly place, and the macro beer selection is unusually tasty. So while you will be disappointed if you go in there expecting the same level of craft beer as in some of the other ones on this list, I do recommend a visit there, especially since you can eat your traditional meal from Icelandic Street Food (owned by the same company) while you enjoy a nice beverage there.
Their bottled selection is very good though, so you can certainly get some very tasty beers there. And they only sell Icelandic beer, too.
Skúli Craft Bar
Skúli is one of the oldest craft bars in Reykjavik. It was named after Skúli Magnússon, a very important figure in the history of Reykjavik, and it is located in the Sheriff’s Park, a little square dedicated to him, with a statue of the man himself. The tap selection is very good, and while the prices are not the best, their happy hour is usually pretty good. They tend to have a nice mix of local and imported beers, so you should find something you like there.
Mikkeller and Friends
Danish brewery Mikkeller is one of the best ones in Scandinavia, and in my opinion possibly the world. In fact they have been awarded for the best beer in the world in the past. They co-own a bar in Reykjavik, called Mikkeller and Friends, which is one of my favorites.
The selection at Mikkeller and Friends is one of a kind. Many of the beers they sell there are brewed special for them and not available anywhere else.
Mikkeller and Friends is not cheap. It’s pretty pricy, in fact. But if you are serious about finding the best beer in Reykjavik, you can’t pass it up. I especially recommend Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch, if you can get it. It is the best imperial stout I’ve ever had.
Session Craft Bar
Session is the latest addition to this list, and it’s a good one. Now, I will say that I’m not a big fan of the interior there. It’s a little bit cold, and feels more like a diner than a cozy beer hole. However, they do have the cheapest selection of craft beer you’ll find in Reykjavik. Their tap selection is exceptional, and their regular prices are pretty much equivalent to most craft bars’ happy hour prices. So if you don’t care about the atmosphere as much you can get a great deal on fantastic craft beer at Session. Highly recommended.
Here is a list of some of my favorite breweries. I’ll start with a couple that have tap rooms, and I certainly recommend you visit those, and tour their facilities if you can. Then there are a few that don’t offer any of that but certainly have great beer.
Ægir Brewery (and my beer, El Grillo)
First of all we need to showcase Ægir brewery and their tap room Ægisgarður. This is where our Old Harbour Brewery Tour ends up, and they are great friends of mine. In fact, I have a very small beer brand called El Grillo (named after a British oil tanker that was bombed by German fighters off the east coast of Iceland during World War II), which is brewed in collaboration with Ægir.
Incidentally, you should look for El Grillo in the state run liquor stores and bars. They always have some at Icelandic Craft Bar, but you should be able to find it in a few others as well. I’m very proud of it, and think you need to try some. 🙂
But regardless of that, if you join our brewery tour, you will love your time in Ægisgarður. Their opening hours are pretty limited, so more often than not your best bet to visit them is to join our tour. And you can also look out for their beers in the liquor stores and other bars. They do great stuff.
RVK Brewing is a pretty new brewery in Reykjavik that has a very nice tap room. It was founded by the former chairman of Fágun, the only homebrew club in Iceland. (A bit of trivia: I am a former chairman of that club, and one of the original founders.)
The founder of RVK Brewing, Sigurður Snorrason, is a wonderful brewer. The beers I’ve tried from there are absolutely outstanding. They are available at a few craft bars, but obviously the selection will be much better in their tap room. The prices should be better as well.
If you can get it, I highly recommend the cinnamon bun imperial stout. It’s one of the tastiest beers I’ve ever tried.
Ölvisholt is one of the oldest craft breweries in Iceland and a huge pioneer in Icelandic beer culture. It was founded by a couple of farmers in the south of Iceland, and it’s still located in a barn down there. They recently added a tap room, and you can tour the brewery for a small fee. In fact, you can book that through our web site, which gives us a small percentage to use towards our marketing costs. That would make us extremely happy. 🙂
Ölvisholt is best known for their smoked imperial stout, Lava, which has been exported for many years. But their selection is wide and everybody should be able to find something to their liking.
Borg is probably the biggest craft brewery in Iceland. They are cheating a little bit, since they are owned by one of the two biggest breweries in Iceland. But they are certainly small and brew amazing beers in limited quantities.
Borg beers have very distinctive labels, with the name of the beer printed on a plain color, usually light brown. The names are almost always peoples’ names (except for a few collaborative projects).
I especially recommend Úlfrún, which is a great session IPA, and Sæmundur, which is a mango pale ale that’s unlike any beer I’ve ever had, and one of my favorites.
The Brothers Brewery
The Brothers Brewery is located in the Westman Islands, south of Iceland. Their beers are not always available in liquor stores or bars in Reykjavik, but if you can get them you should give them a try. They are very tasty. If you visit the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), they have a tap room at the brewery. It is definitely worth a visit. One of the best things to happen to Icelandic Beer in a while.
Hit Us Up for Icelandic Beer
As I said this list is bound to be woefully incomplete. But I am just one man. These are some of my favorites. If you want to have a beer with us and get some great stories and fun along the way, check out the Golden Beer Circle.
Cheers! Or as we say in Iceland: Skál!
Has this been helpful?
I hope this list has been helpful and has given you some ideas for things to do in Iceland. If you need any information, do not hesitate to get in touch. If this has been useful, I hope you will consider booking your tours, accommodation, flights or activities through this web site. It won’t cost you any extra, I make sure to only list the very best partner companies I can find, and it does help me to run this site and market my tours and activities. I appreciate you and hope you have a great visit in Iceland.