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Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

Let's drink beer: The Annual Icelandic Beer Festival

By Staff

  • Beers to you From Kex 2015 Annual Beer Festival. Cheers in Icelandic is skál! Photo/Valli

One of the simple pleasures of life is drinking good beer. To commemorate this world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, we have a special day in Iceland: the annual Icelandic Beer Day. This day of celebration is 1 March, which is the date when it became legal to buy beer in Iceland again, having been off limits from 1915 to 1989.

Originally all alcohol was banned in Iceland during the years of prohibition sweeping the world in the early 20th century, but when the ban was lifted in 1935 beer was left out. Strangely enough the nation was not trusted to consume the mildest form of alcohol while vine and strong spirits were allowed. The reason behind this madness is a topic for another article.

On the Beer Day you can sample the joyous mood in bars, breweries and restaurants around the island, with the main festivities though often moved to the closest weekend when 1 March comes up on a weekday. 


Beer infused Kex Hostel’s gastropub Sæmundur í sparifötunum will offer a beer orientated menu for the duration of the festival.l

The good people at the Reykjavík downtown hostel Kex Hostel have been building an ambitious festival in recent years but the 2016 event will exceed what they have done before. For the first time the program will include other location than the hostel as on the final night a large party will be thrown in an old factory and later art museum space on Skúlagata 28, next door to the hostel with live music, exclusive beers and beer oriented menu (NOTICE: The final night's location has been updated from previous version of this story).

The four-day festival kicks of on Wednesday 24 February and the final night is on Saturday 27 February. The price of a festival pass is 9.900 ISK (75 USD, 70 EUR).

The pass includes tasting of all beers at the festival, meet and greet with the people behind the beers, workshop, live music, a tote bag, some beer coasters, bar snacks and more.

Eight Icelandic breweries participate at the festival and six international breweries.

Read more: Iceland’s top 5 most popular beers are by local brewers

The Annual Icelandic Beer Festival

Wednesday 24 February
17-19 (5-7 pm)
Tasting Session at Kex Hostel. Breweries:
Kaldi (ÍSL)
Segull 67 (ÍSL)
Bryggjan Brugghús (ÍSL)
Ölvisholt (ÍSL)
The Commons Brewery (US)
Alefarm Brewing (DK)

Thursday 25 February
17-19 (5-7 pm)
Tasting Session at KeX Hostel. Breweries:
Steðji (ÍSL)
Einstök (ÍSL)
Vífilfell – Víking (ÍSL)
Mikkeller  (DK)
To Øl (DK)

Friday 26 February
17-19 (5-7 pm)
Tasting Session at Kex Hostel. Breweries:
Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson – Borg (ÍSL)
Bryggjan Brugghús (ÍSL)
pFriem Family Brewers (US)
Surly Brewing Company (US)

Saturday February 27
14 (2pm)
Workshop in Kex Hostel’s multifunctional hall Gym & Tonic. Meet the brewer, know his story. An intimate tasting session and a chat with one of the breweries from the festival.
17-23  (5-11 pm)
Supersession between 17-19 at Skúlagata 28 (101 Reykjavík) followed by live performance by the fantastic local band FM Belfast (no connection to North Ireland). (NOTICE: The location has been updated from previous version of this story).

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