Although citizen-backed prohibition was once the law in Iceland, today the country produces and exports one-of-a-kind spirits and delicious beers that are uniquely Icelandic.
In 1915, Iceland banned alcohol from being manufactured, sold and consumed. The first and main spirit of Iceland, Brennivín was introduced to the public in 1935 when the government partially repealed prohibition. The stark, black label was created to be unappealing and limit the demand; however, it had the opposite effect. Today, the Brennivín label is a symbol of Iceland’s signature drink - and of Iceland itself.
Originally manufactured by the Icelandic government, Brennivín's distinct taste comes from caraway seeds and pure Icelandic water. Today, Brennivín is made by Ölgerðin, which was founded in 1913 and is the largest producer of soft drinks, beer, and spirits in Iceland. Traditionally, Brennivín is served chilled, either sipped with meals, or taken as an ice-cold shot. However, crafty bartenders have been finding new ways to use the spirit in various cocktails.
Although Brennivín was available beginning in 1935, beer remained forbidden until March 1, 1989, when the prohibition was finally lifted. One of Iceland’s best known beers, Gull (Icelandic for "gold"), has been enjoyed by Icelanders since "Beer Day." Gull is a pale lager brewed in the tradition of the German Münchener helles method, in which malt plays a major role. Its distinctive taste is derived from the pure Icelandic water and barley with which it is brewed. Gull is classic and crisp, has a clear golden sheen, small white head, light toasted malt nose and a fresh lemony tang. No wonder Gull has received a number of prizes, including the “World´s Best Standard Lager” at the World Beer Awards 2011.
The famous Icelandic brewery, Borg Brugghús, is a progressive craft brewery founded in 2010 that aims to incorporate Icelandic cultural traits and local ingredients into its wide variety of beers and pair well with food. Borg Brugghús has already received numerous awards at some of the world's most noted and influential competitions. Borg's imperial stout, “Surtur nr 8,” won the world's best barrel-aged beer at the World Beer Awards in 2017. In 2013, three Borg beers, the porter “Myrkvi nr 13,” the dry-hopped pilsner “Brio nr 1” and the IPA “Úlfur nr 3,” were picked as best in their categories, and in 2015, “Sólveig nr 25” was picked best in its category of strong wheat beers. In celebration of Iceland’s world cup run in 2018, Borg Brugghús teamed up with a Moscow brewery to create a special beer called Húh!
Today, Reykjavík boasts both a booming cocktail and craft brew culture, and almost every bar and restaurant in the city offers unique craft cocktails and locally brewed beers for your tasting pleasure.
Fun fact: No night out in Reykjavik is complete without a pylsa! An Icelandic hot dog is made from beef, pork, and Icelandic lamb and gives them a distinctly complex, savory flavor. Icelanders eat their hot dogs with all condiments, or “Ein með öllu,” including raw white onions, crispy fried onions, sweet ketchup enriched with applesauce, caramel-colored sweet brown mustard and remoulade!
What You Could Win
In celebration of Ölgerðin, we’re excited to offer one lucky winner (must be 21+) a prize pack that includes:
To enter through the form below, visit http://www.olgerdin.is/en/, click on “About Us” and answer this question: “Where and when was Ölgerðin established?” Enter the answer in the space provided in the form below, along with your information and click submit to be entered to win the prize pack.
Fill out the entry form by August 29, 2019 for a chance to win. The winner will be announced here on August 30, 2019.
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