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Christmas beer - Segull 67

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Segull 67 is a small family brewery in Siglufjörður, in the north of Iceland, which was founded in 2015. They brew their beer in a repurposed fish factory and sound like a cool place to visit when in the north. Here is their homepage.


They have two Christmas beers, an amber ale and a mandarin session IPA. The amber ale is a solid beer, the malted barley gives it a warmer taste, as you would expect from a winter beer. The IPA tastes a sweet from the added mandarins and light, more like a summer beer. I do not particularly like IPAs, so I definitely prefer the amber ale, but I think if IPAs are your thing, it is worth checking out. The mandarins and hoppy taste of the IPA go well together.

Christmas beer - Álfur

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I think it is fitting to start the Christmas beer adventure with a micro-brewery called "Álfur" (elf). It is a young brewery, founded in summer 2018. They specialize in brewing beer out of potato peelings, a waste product of Icelandic potato farming. While I love the angle of sustainability and using local products, I was a bit skeptical. As a German I am culturally inclined to dismiss any beer not brewed according to the "Reinheitsgebot".


They have two Christmas beers, Jólaálfur (a lager) and Svartálfur (a potato porter). I tried the Jólaálfur first and really liked it. I is a darker, richer lager (which is exactly the kind I like), which might be due to the added potato peel, but I could not tell. It is a solid lager. Svartálfur is a porter and a bit to rough for my taste. I prefer my porter to be heavier on the caramelized malt. However, this was just a personal preference, if you like bitter, dark beer, it is a decent option.

Álfur sucessfully defeated my skepticism about potatoes in beer. I really like their focus on local ingredients and sustainability and they seem to know what they are doing. Here is their Facebook (they have no website). Check them out.

Christmas beer - once more with feeling

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5 years ago I tried all kinds of Icelandic Christmas beers and rated them. The results can be seen here. This year, to celebrate my blog coming back to live and to distract myself from the fact that I won't be coming home for Christmas, I decided to do the whole beer tasting again. I figured, that after five years , there will be some new beers to try. So I went on the webpage of the Icelandic state alcohol store, went to the category "Jólabjór", selcted "Iceland" as country of origin and ended up with 66 beers!

To prevent alcohol poisoning I decided to exclude beers from major breweries and focus on microbreweries only. There have been A LOT of new microbreweries, in 2015 there were maybe 6, now there are 18. They all have more than one Christmas beer, so there are still about 40 beers left, even with leaving out the ones that have not changed since 2015.

I will not rate the beer this time, there is no better Christmas beer than Jóla Kaldi Chocolate Porter. Instead, I'll introduce each brewery, their Christmas beers and comments from whichever friends I can rope into this.


Is the Icelandic police racist?

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Last month a picture of a police officer with patches of known neo-nazi symbols was published in one of the major newspapers, prompting a discussion about racism in the police. The police officer in question claimed they had been given the patches as presents and were not aware of their meaning. Even if this were true, this still leaves the question why someone would give a police officer these patches in the first place and if the Icelandic police is unaware of common symbols of hate groups in general. In response to the incidence an MP of the pirate party suggested that a committee should be established to investigate possible racism within the police. The police were of course outraged at the suggestion.

Earlier this year the police acquired a van for the purpose of better border control on harbours around the Reykjavik area. As this was in the middle of covid and the usual cruise ships were not visiting Iceland this year (good riddance) they decided that this van can also be used to drive around Reykjavik and stop cars with (and I quote) "Romanian looking" people in it and, well, frisk them.

Last year in march refugees protested their conditions in the refugee shelters and the drawn out process for asylum on Austurvöllur. During the same time workers who were on strike were also organising pickets and protests around the square. Additionally the kids from Fridays for Future were there every Friday. The refugees were met by 20 police (they themselves were around 30) and pepper sprayed during the peaceful protest. The workers (also around 30) and kids from Friday for Future (around 60) did not encounter any police, as they had adopted a deescalation strategy of plain clothed officers in a car around the corner.

The proposed committee to investigate possible racism within the police has not been established, so whether or not the Icelandic police is racist will remain a mystery.

Strætó a(nother) rant

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I do not like Strætó very much. Now in the pandemic they have been doing everything to justify my disdain for them.

They started out well. When the first wave hit, they took measures to protect their drivers. They taped off the front of the bus and made passengers go in and out in the back, holding up their bus card, easily keeping the 2m distance.
Then they decided they really would like their passengers to die. Instead of implementing any of the social distancing measures other bus companies around the world have been doing (taping off seats, deploying more buses during rush hour), they decided to cut the service. The only motivation was to use the crisis to cut costs, public safety be damned.
People using the public transport in Iceland are mainly blue collar, low income and essential workers, those who cannot work from home (cleaning staff, kitchen staff, hospital staff etc). With fewer buses running every hour, buses were more crowded. There was no mask requirement in the first wave.
In the second wave Strætó got an exception to requiring masks (usually if it is not possible to keep the 2m rule, masks are required). They went back and forth on whether they want to make masks mandatory anyway, until they came up with the rule that you are only supposed to wear a mask if your travelling time is more than 30 min. Because that is not complicated and confusing at all. They also decided that they do not actually care about the safety of their drivers, not requiring them to wear masks either and having people enter from the front, breathing in their drivers faces. Probably because people were using the measures from the first wave to use expired bus cards and we are all welcome to die to make sure Strætó makes a profit.

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