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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.

SegullChristmasbeer

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".

AlfurChristmasbeer

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.

Skál!





Christmas beer 2015 edition

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This year a few new Christmas beers were released from Icelandic breweries, providing an opportunity for me to have a beer tasting with my friends again. A lot of the new beers were dark beers, porters and bocks, probably due to the popularity of the Einstök Christmas beer last year.



Barleywines



Barleywines are very strong beer (around 10% alcohol) , which is why they are called wine despite being a beer. The high alcohol content and the fact that some of us had already had cocktails (not me ) lead to some flowery descriptions.

The first we had was Giljagaur from Borg brewery. Last Christmas they had Þvörusleikir, a beer that had my respect, despite it not being the type of beer I enjoy and which my flatmate really liked. Giljagaur is the second of the Jule Lads. He sneaks into cowsheds to steal milk.
The barleywine tastes like you know that Christmas is coming, but it is still some time away (my other flatmate had a poetic day). One can compare it to a dark winter night, according to another friend of mine who jumped on the whole being poetic about beer bandwagon. It is a low carbonated beer with a nice balance of bitter and sweet. There are slight hints of caramel and licorice in the sweet tones and not much of an aftertaste.

Jóli Barley Wine from Ölvisholt brewery had the nicer label, though it is a bit confusing as it is the same label and name as the Jóli Christmas Beer last year, which isn't the same as this one.
It inspired more beer poetry from my friends: "It tastes like Christmas morning with fresh snow. The Christmas tree is in the basement and there is a fire in the fireplace." Yet they actually liked it less than the beer before. There is a lot going on here, it is slightly citrusy with an oaky aftertaste, which might be nice, however it gets overpowered by the bitterness.


"Brown beer"


RIP wine glass, killed by Jeff and our dishwasher.

My (actually ex) flatmate and me decided to skip on going swimming and have more Christmas beers instead. We tried to be as poetic as the guys had been at the last tasting, but did not really succeed, maybe because we only had two 33ml beers with 6-7% alcohol for the both of us.

Potaskefill is another beer from Borg brewery and named after the Jule Lad which licks the pots after everyone had gone to bed. It is a "Brown Beer?" according to the label and confused Mariska who was in vain looking for something Christmassy about it. The description claims it has caramel, chocolate and coffee notes, none of us tasted them. It has a murky dark colour, is little carbonated and has a nice foam crown (as a German I appreciate beer foam). After I finished my glass and some effort I decided it tastes like the smell of pine. It is not bad, not too bitter, not too sweet, a beer you can give to everyone and which will be liked and then forgotten. Meh.

Boli a doppelbock from the mother company of Borg brewery and biggest beverage company in Iceland, Egills, was more memorable. You might want to drink this beer after a walk in the snow in front of a fire while the wind is howling outside. Ok, half a beer and poetry happens with me, in Icelandic they call this "hænuhaus" (chickenhead). Not that having a low tolerance for alcohol is a bad thing in a country where any of these 33cl bottles of Christmas beer cost something between 2-3 €.
Boli has a clear dark colour, is medium carbonated and has another nice foam crown (maybe I just get better at pouring?). The outstanding taste here is the smokey flavour. It is quite mild though and balanced out by the slightly sweet licorice taste. It isn't a beer I would drink all night, but I would enjoy a glass with my dessert.


Dark chocolate and bitter licorice



Jóla Kaldi Chocolate Porter was a beer I was excited about because a) chocolate and b) Jóla Kaldi was my favourite Christmas beer last year. It tastes like very dark chocolate (more bitter than sweet). Case closed, we can go home now, we have a winner. What there is still a licorice beer to be reviewed? Well I guess if I have to (my flatmate, who I still refuse to call ex-flatmate refused to give up the chocolate beer for science).

Steðji almáttugur jólaöl is the darker sibling of the Steðji Jólabjór which positively surprised me last year. Unfortunately here the licorice did not work out. The beer smells repugnant (can licorice rot?) It tastes like weirdly bitter licorice. This is the worst of the licorice added beers and the worst of the ones tried this year. Sorry Steðji.

A list!

  1. Jóla Kaldi Chocolate Porter -- mhhh chocolate

  2. Boli doppelbook -- smokey and interesting

  3. Giljagaur -- nice if you like sweelty, malted beers (but the Einstök Icelandic Doppelbock one is better

  4. Potaskefill -- good, but a bit meh

  5. Jóli Barley Wine -- interesting, but does not really come together

  6. Steðji almáttugur jólaöl -- what happened Steðji? You got Licorice and beer so right last year and now, ugh.


My favourite Christmas beer is still Jóla Kaldi, but Jóla Kaldi Chocolate Porter comes as a second and I prefer it over Einstök Icelandic Doppelbock, which I found a bit sweet.


Posted on - Categories: Jólabjór


Christmas beer day seven (last day!)

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For our last day we tried Christmas beer from the Ölvisholt brewery near Selfoss, who created two Christmas beers, one called Jóli, and another called Jólabjór. Ölvisholt makes one of my favourite beer, a red ale called Móri, so I was quite excited to test their Christmas beers.

Jóli
It is a dark brown beer with added ginger, cloves and cinnamon. It smells a little bit like gingerbread and is quite strong with 6.3%.
Christmassiness: One can slightly taste the warm winter spices.
Overall tastiness: My flatmate really did not like it. It is an ok dark beer, quite bitter with a strong aftertaste but nice and creamy. One can taste the spices slightly at the beginning. This beer will put hairs on your chest.

Jólabjór
It is a lighter red ale (5%) with the same spices as above and added orange peel. The orange taste overpowers the spice taste.
Christmassiness: Typical Christmas taste in beer
Overall tastiness: Nothing special really, but very drinkable. My flatmate liked it more because it was not as dark and bitter. I liked it less for the same reason. I found the orange and spices did not harmonize with the beer as much as the above.

Note on both: I was a bit disappointed, I had expected something a bit more creative than just adding spices. That said to me Jóli was the winner, the gingerbread spices seemed to be better suited for a darker beer and the added orange in the Jólabjór overloaded the beer with non-beer tastes.

The last list (with notes):

  1. Jólakaldi and Einstök Icelandic Doppelbock

  2. I had Einstök again the other day and liked it more this time. Both have a nice creamy Christmas taste going on only by the way the hops was malted. If you feel like a lighter beer, go for Kaldi, for a darker the doppelbock.

  3. Þvörusleikir

  4. They also achieve a lot of taste just using the usual beer ingredients. If you like hoppy beers (like my flatmate) this is a really interesting beer to try.

  5. Steðji Jólabjór

  6. It is possible to put licorice in beer and get something tasty, my mind is blown

  7. Jóli

  8. Solid dark and creamy beer with Christmas spices.

  9. Íslenskur Úrvals Jólabock and Gæðingur Jólabjór

  10. One a bock, the other (I insist to call it that) an IPA which are ok to drink

  11. Ölvisholt Jólabjór

  12. Too many added tastes, which is a bit sad, because I think the underlying red ale might be quite nice.

  13. Víking Jólabjór

  14. A drinkable red ale when there is nothing else around

  15. Tuborg Christmas Beer

  16. If you ever felt like drinking your Tuborg through a licorice straw (they do that with Coke here in Iceland) you will like this. Icelanders do.

  17. Gull Jólabjór

  18. Awful beer made worse by throwing orange into it. Radler gone very, very wrong.

  19. Egils Malt Jólabjór

  20. Sweet and sticky awfulness




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