Skip to main content

Sample 3 of the Best Craft Beer Bars in Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is a country of gorgeous waterfalls, impressive geysers, romantically desolate lava fields and, of course, ice.

It gets cold in Iceland. That probably isn’t a news flash to anyone. But as someone who just made his first trip, I was still amazed at how fickle the seasonal weather can be, even in early summer. Yes, we were expecting a cooler climate and maybe some rain. Instead we were met with stinging pelts of sleet, powerful wind gusts, near-freezing temperatures and only a few precious hours of cloudless sky.

As I walked through downtown Reykjavík, wondering how anyone survives a summer in Iceland (much less the brutal, dark winters), I saw two signs that answered my question. The first was a taqueria named El Santo (after the famous Mexican wrestler), and the second was an outpost of Mikkeller’s craft beer bar empire called Mikkeller & Friends.

Good beer can solve a lot of the world’s problems, and cozying up to friends new and old in the neighborhood pub is a time-honored tradition of making the best out of a bad situation (or getting ready to cheer on Team Iceland at the upcoming World Cup). After passing Mikkeller & Friends, I perked up and began looking for other craft friendly spots. I was amazed by the quantity of establishments in the rather sleepy national capitol of just 123,000 people.

The next time life takes you to Iceland, perhaps to tour the Golden Circle or soak in a natural hot spring, end your day at one of these fantastic craft beer oases.

Mikkeller & Friends

Mikkeller & Friends

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Nothing in Iceland is cheap. Depending on the pour size, brand, and relative scarcity, expect to pay between $8 and $20 for a craft ale in Reykjavík. But at least at Mikkeller & Friends, you’re bound to have the chance to try beers you’ve never experienced before. The rotating list of beers from around the world recently featured brews from Fort George Brewery in Oregon, Cerebral Brewing in Colorado, and Iceland’s own KEX Brewing.

Micro Bar

Microbar Iceland/Facebook

Not to be confused with Samara Costa Rica’s Microbar, you’ll go underground to experience this beer hall. The staff at Iceland’s Micro Bar is friendly and the dedication to Iceland’s local beer scene is evident. You can get small pour flights of those regional beers to sample what some of the most creative brewers in Iceland have to offer.

Icelandic Craft Bar

Icelandic Craft Bar/Facebook

If you need some bites to go along with your brews, Icelandic Craft Bar is your stop. Try the local delicacy of fermented shark meat and then wash it down with an Einstok Icelandic White Ale. It’s centrally located in the heart of the tourist friendly downtown and known for its all-important happy hour pricing. 

Looking for a place to stay while in Iceland? Cozy up in these great cottages you can rent today. And if beer isn’t hard enough for you, take a sip of Iceland’s Black Death to test your mettle.

Editors' Recommendations

Lee Heidel
Lee Heidel is the managing editor of Brew/Drink/Run, a website and podcast that promotes brewing your own beer, consuming the…
2 New Whiskey-Beer Collaborations to Drink Now
brooklyn four roses

Wintertime is the season for dark beers like stout and porter, and beer that has been aged in a whiskey barrel offers a particularly warming sensation with added notes of oak, vanilla, and spice. There are two new barrel-aged beers available just in time for the holidays, both from craft breweries that have collaborated with some top-tier whiskey distilleries.

First up is the brand-new Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter from Harpoon Brewery, which has locations in Boston and Vermont. Not too far from the Vermont facility is the WhistlePig distillery, so it made perfect sense for the two companies to work together on this new beer. They decided to take the brewery's already successful Baltic Porter and age it in WhistlePig rye whiskey barrels for a period of time. The resulting beer is sweet and malty, with hints of vanilla, baking spice, and dried fruit that pop throughout each sip. According to Dan Kenary, CEO and co-founder of Harpoon, the plan was to reintroduce this beer with what he calls a special edge. “We thought, what better way to foster innovation than to partner with our neighbors at WhistlePig," he said in a press release, "bringing our brewers and their talented distillers together for a meaningful and delicious collaboration.”

Read more
Merrell and Dogfish Head Team Up to Make Beer and Trail-Running Shoes
Merrell Dogfish Head Sea Quench Shoes

You know why a beer tastes so good after you mow the lawn, right? It's because beer tastes so good at all times. But also because beer is packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs and craves all the more after you have been out there sweating in your yard.

And what also leads to a lot of sweating? Trail running. It follows, then, that beer will also taste great after this most excellent form of exercise. But don't grab just any brew after you log those overland miles, instead crack open a beer from Dogfish Head that's so perfect for après trail running that Merrell, a company noted for its excellent trail running shoes, just had to be a part of it.

Read more
Getting to Know the Lithuanian Beer Scene
lithuanian beer lithbeer

The fact that beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage isn’t that remarkable. What’s more impressive is how exceptionally vibrant beer culture has remained across different eras, with locals giving it documented props and shout-outs as far back as the 11th century. Lithuania is the eastern European nation most famous for amber Baltic shores, Charles Bronson, and its own scent. Beer, however, should probably join that list.
Instead of copying the numerous varieties developed by neighboring countries — Czech Pilsners, German Lagers, Belgian Krieks, etc. — Lithuanians source ingredients locally and produce their own unique genre. Earthy and yeast-driven, the most distinctive beer, dubbed kaimiskas, is most comparable to a farmhouse ale.
The country presently houses about 80 breweries, roughly half of which are micro in nature. Lagers remain popular there, as in most parts of the world, but Lithuanians seem to know they’re sitting on something indigenous and special with their kaimiskas. Born long before industrialization, they are living relics of an old agrarian way of life, and very much taste like it (in a good way). As Draft eloquently stated, these beers are “flux capacitors in liquid form.”
Much of the brewing activity takes place in the northern reaches of the country. The beers are made from distinctive strains of yeast, alongside a smattering of hops and often unboiled wort -- something of a rarity. The result is beer that’s decidedly rustic and beaming with Lithuanian terroir.
This is the kind of Old World beer brewed for and by farmers, at least initially. It survived wars, revolutions, ebbs and flows in the economy, and nationhood. It has remained mostly on the back burner but, at least within Lithuania, is a great source of pride and something that’s passed down from generation to generation. Villages always had, and still do to some extent have, brewers. And the good beer was treated like any great feat from a true craftsman, with respect and adulation. To drink one of these beers is to pay tribute to something much bigger and engrained than you might originally think. And, who knows, perhaps with a little nudge, Lithuanian Kaimiskas can at least be the next White IPA.
Lately, the Lithuanian craft beer scene has struggled against alcohol advertising bans and beer curfews. It’s a strange reality in a country that has been more or less supportive of the stuff for a thousand years. The capital city of Vilnius, especially, is known for going against the grain, producing micro-focused bottle shops and maintaining a general reverence toward the more creative local brews.
There are some options for getting the stuff here in the states and, earlier this year, one of the country’s famed yeast strains landed stateside. It never hurts to pester your favorite bottle shop, urging them to bring some of these wildly unique beer options to your neighborhood. Neighbors like Poland get more of the tourist limelight but next time you’re considering eastern Europe — in actuality or by the power of the internet or your most diverse bottle shop — consider Lithuania and its signature beer.
Want to try a Lithuanian beer? Here are three to seek out:

Rinkuškiai Zhiguly Grande 9.5

Read more