After finishing testing and not being too impressed by the Christmas beer of the three biggest breweries in Iceland (Víking, Gull and Egils) it was time to move on to Microbreweries. This time we tested beer from two Microbreweries from the north of Iceland, Jólakaldi from Bruggsmiðjan in Árskógssandur in Eyjafjörður and Gæðingur Jólabjór from Skagafjörður. They are both pretty small and were founded recently, Gæðingur founded in 2011, has 6 fermentation tanks and Bruggsmiðjan, founded in 2005, produces around 300.000l of beer per year (one liter for each Icelander ).
Kaldi beer is generally brewed after Czech tradition and for their Christmas beer they used 3 different kinds of Czech malted barley. It is a red ale with 5.4% alcohol.
Christmassiness: Thanks to the malted barley it has a slight creamy taste of caramel. This is how I imaging Butterbeer from Harry Potter tastes like.
Overall tastiness: The sweetness of the caramel is balanced nicely by the slight bitter taste of the red ale. It is very smooth. You can taste that someone put thought and experience into this beer. This is a really really yummy beer.
This is a pale ale (4.6%) with malted barley. It is very hoppy and though it does not say Indian Pale Ale on the bottle, to me this is what it tastes like.
Christmassiness: It tastes like Indian Pale Ale, which neither I nor anyone else in our group associated with Christmas.
Tastiness: Grazing through a hops field. I don't like Indian Pale Ales. Fortunately this is were my co-tasters jumped in. They pointed out that, though it is a light beer, it has a very full taste and there is no bitter after-taste. It is definitely well made in terms how the tastes balance each other, similar to the Kaldi beer above.
Overall, we decided that during this tasting we got to appreciate the art Icelandic Microbreweries put in their beer. Both were really good beer in their categories, but everyone agreed Jólakaldi was tastier and actually tasted like we imagined a Christmas beer.
The list for now:
- Gæðingur Jólabjór (though I subjectively do not like the hoppy taste, it is a better beer than 3)
- Víking Jólabjór
- Gull Jólabjór
- Egils Malt Jólabjór