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Christmas beer - Ölvisholt

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Ölvisholt is the micro-brewery that started it all. Founded in 2007 by two neighbouring farmers near Selfoss, they made the first beer in Iceland which prioritized quality over quantity. They have five different Christmas beers and to my delight, NONE of them are an IPA.


Hel: a winter porter, dark, slightly sweet, creamy, a perfect winter beer.
Heims um bjór, a red lager. Another really nice beer. A slightly darker lager with a bit of a caramel taste.
24: A barrel aged barley wine. This is a strong beer with an oak aftertaste from the barrels it was aged in. Again something for people who like whiskey or bourbon. This would be nice with Christmas dinner, it is a bit strong for just drinking just like this.
These beers are what I want from my Christmas beers, well made beers, achieving a winter taste just by using the traditional beer ingredients.

The other two beers use spices, with mixed results.

Jólabjór, a smoked bock with added cloves. The cloves completely overpower the beer and cloves are strange to use as a single spice, rather than as part of a spice mixture. If you are really into the taste of cloves, this is your beer, but then I have to tell you, you are a strange person, with strange tastes.
Jóla Jóra, a spiced imperial stout. Here we have a spice mixture. Much better than the above, you still have to feel like getting a full load of Christmas spices, but I guess this is why you are drinking a Christmas beer, right? And stouts are always a win with me.

To me Ölvisholt stands for consistent quality. May they continue to be the trailblazer of the micro-brewery movement in Iceland.

Christmas beer - Ægir

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Ægir is a microbrewery, which also was founded in summer 2018. They specialize in brewing beer for others. If you are a hobby brewer and developed a recipe you think is really good, they will work with you to perfect it, brew it and market it.

They have four different Christmas beers and I did not really like any of them.

The first one I tried was Heilög Eilífð Barrel Aged Pastry Stout. An imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. The bourbon taste is really strong and I am neither a bourbon, nor a whiskey person (it is rum or tequila for me). I cannot give an objective review of this beer, I could only drink one or two sips before I gave up. The beer was made in cooperation with Kex brewing (a hostel with it's own brewery) and some others.
The next I tried was the Jóli Bæjó, a session IPA made for Mói, a brewing club in Garðabær. I still do not like IPAs, nor do I think they are christmassy and I´m really skeptical of throwing oats into your beer, but it tasted like a not to hoppy, light and pleasant IPA. And I think it is really cool that Ægir gives small brewing clubs the opportunity to produce their own beer for the general public (home brewing is legal as long as it is for your own consumption and not sold).
Next up was Hóhóhó, a brown ale with orange and cocoa husks. Quite christmassy, one can say, basically orange chocolate beer. I did not find the brown ale anything special and the dominating flavours were the orange and cocoa.I don't like orange chocolate, so I did not like the beer (this is what happened if you add a lot of extra flavours to your beer, just stick with water, malt, barley and hops, people!)
Last was Ekkert sérstaklega jólaleg jól (not a very christmassy Christmas). True to name, it is basically a summer beer a light IPA with lime juice. And for whatever reason oats again. This is beer, not porridge, keep the oats out of it! I know I complained about adding flavours to beer just to sentences above, but the lime juice overpowering the IPA here made it better to me. On the can it says to drink it on the beach and yes, I would (as long as it is not an Icelandic beach).

Ægir's business model of cooperating with other brewers lead to a lot of different and experimental beers, not to everyone's liking. If you have a beer idea, give them a call, maybe your beer can be the next big thing in Iceland!

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.


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