There’s only a month left until Christmas so everything is covered in Christmas lights and fake (well, for now) snow in Iceland. Even my favourite retro radio station has morphed into a 24/7 holiday cheer monster, so no more cruising to cheesy 80’s Madonna songs, thank you very much, Christmas.
But of course, there are numerous advantages to the holiday season, and one of them is CHRISTMAS BEER.
You know that the time has come, when you have to search for a parking space in front of the liquor store, and the queues are zigzagging between the shelves, filled with people hanging on to their red-labeled bottles. Endless amounts of specially brewed awesomeness is coming to the Vinbúdin this time of the year, and we were eager to try and describe as much as we can to yours truly. I got some precious help from my Icelandic and Czech companions, I do not think I would have been able to make this journey on my own.
So here it goes, sorry if our highly sophisticated style is somehow fading on the way.
Ölvisholt Brugghús: Jóli
We were expecting a lot from this one, as the gingerbread man seems really happy on the label, and we were certainly not disappointed. Gingerbread men don’t lie.
Nice, deep brown colour, smells like cinnamon and well, Christmas. The head is basically non-existent. The ginger, cinnamon and negull (whatever the hell is this, because not even my viking did not know) undertones are very delicious. Quite high in alcohol (6,3%), so be careful with gulping it all the way down with your first rush of enthusiasm.
Föroya Bjór: Jóla Bryggj
Brought to us by our cousins from the Faroe Islands, we supposed this beer to be very exotic, but we were a bit disappointed not smelling the Christmas right away. Small, quickly disappearing head, light golden brownish colour. For the second smelling, I have to admit, it smells like those banana chocolates that resemble tasteless foam. Nothing special, disappointment no. 1.
Excitingly different bottle, promising label. Foamy, compared to the already tasted two beers. Not really Christmassy, no holiday taste, actually not different from the regular one, but not bad. Easy drinking, not too high on alcohol (4,6%).
Slightly black metal design. I jumped into this with doubts, as it has liqorice in it. Well, I don’t really know why I’m surprised, everything has liquorice in them in Iceland. It’s very „hobbsy” according to the boys, with a slight liqorice taste in the back of your tongue (someone is really pro here).
(We’ve just thought it started snowing already. No, it didn’t.)
-Oh lord, this one is in a CAN.
-This is going to be disgusting.
-CAN I skip this?
Still, the best head we had tonight and the most Christmassy design, going to serve its purpose as a Christmas decoration in the kitchen. Although, it smells sour and tastes like can. Not really disappointing, we knew it was going to be bad.
Danish, and there is glucose syrup in it. WHY. And mais. Double WHY.
Colour is the colour of piss after a night of heavy drinking.
I’ll just let the pictures talk for themselves.
Egils: Malt Jólabjór
Icelanders have an obsession with malt. Malt extract is a really sweet, refreshing beverage (where did this word come from?). At Christmas time they usually serve it mixed with Appelsín, which is basically the Icelandic Fanta, that makes it even more sweeter. However, Jólabjór is even better, as it also has alcohol, 5.6%, so you don’t even realize that you are getting drunk from something this awsome. Malt is all we need in the holiday season.
(We are listening to Cher.)
Egils: Jóla Gull
No heads going on lately, but there’s a head of Santa Claus on the bottle. Tastes like fruity chewing gum.
Kaldi has always been our favourite Icelandic beer, so the stakes are really high here. In the summer we had a pilgrimage to the North just to visit the small family brewery and taste as many beers there as possible. We ended up hitchhiking to the next town in the pouring rain with still full beer glasses. It was a day to remember.
Pleasant, burnt caramel smell, pleasant caramel taste.
Fuck, this is good.
Tuborg: Christmas Brew
Iceland’s favourite Christmas beer, although it’s Danish. There’s liquorice, it explains everything.
‘There’s nothing to disturb me, but nothing to surprise me’ – David.
‘It’s fine’ -Gudjón.
‘I’m just waiting for my Einstök’ – Dóra.
This is crap. We didn’t even open it. Save it for when it doesn’t matter.
Okay, we did open it, and as we had previously supposed, it was bad. The design is the same as of Tuborg, maybe to lure people to mix the two up, and end up going home with this one.
Einstök: Icelandic Dopplebock
Saving the best for last. It wasn’t a really fair game as we already know Einstök would win. And it really did. Beautiful head, beautiful dark brown colour, deep, aromatic taste. This is the beginning of a new love at 1 in the morning.