Wherever we are in the world, we seek out local craft beer bars. We love learning the stories behind the breweries and tasting the unique local flavors. On our trip to Reykjavik, we were intent on sampling locally produced beer from Iceland (regardless of how much it cost!). In our endeavor, we discovered some of the best bars serving local Iceland craft beer in Reykjavik.
Craft Beer Reykjavik
Just as it seems is the case in cities around the world, craft brew is on the rise in Iceland as well. Breweries in Iceland are producing everything from tried and true Iceland lagers to unusual and expensive experimental beer in Iceland – and we were delighted to indulge.
We sampled an array of beers from Iceland craft breweries – and a couple of the commercially produced brews, too. That said, between the exorbitant Iceland beer price and the fact that we were actually there to see the sights meant we didn’t get to try as much Reykjavik craft beer as we would have liked.
While visiting an Iceland brewery was high on our list during our trip, we were short on time and settled for visiting Reykjavik pubs instead. However, we include recommendations from fellow travelers and highly rated tours to Icelandic breweries are at the end of this post.
Evolution of Craft Beer in Iceland
Icelandic beer has an interesting history that has left a huge impact on breweries in Reykjavik and around the country. Most notably, the country had a long-standing prohibition law that was in effect until the 1980s.
For 74 years, consumption of beer in Iceland was banned for local citizens. Brewing and consuming Iceland beer only became legal on March 1, 1989. The day is now celebrated annually as Iceland Beer Day. The beer industry in Iceland has come a long way since the prohibition in 1915, as evidenced by the number of pubs in Reykjavik.
It still took some time after the ban was lifted for craft breweries in Iceland to start brewing small-batch brews. Since 2006, however, Iceland craft beer has been on the rise. There are now more than 25 craft breweries around the country – as well as a recently opened Reykjavik brewery. Now the best pubs in Reykjavik are serving up the tasty, local craft brews.
Icelandic Beer Prices
Before we jump into our list of Reykjavik bars serving craft beer from Iceland, we need to take a moment to briefly discuss beer prices in Reykjavik. There is no way to sugarcoat it: the cost of beer in Reykjavik is outrageous.
Beer Price: Reykjavik
Like most things in the country, the price of beer in Iceland is expensive – as in, really expensive. Even mass-produced swill is painfully pricey.
In order to keep our budget in check, we consciously limited our drinking in Iceland and looked for Reykjavik bars with happy hour deals. Even with happy hour pricing, Icelandic craft beer is costly – and finding cheap beer in Reykjavik is practically impossible.
Therefore, in addition to drinking Iceland microbrewery beer, we also sipped pints produced by big-name Icelandic beer brands – which we claimed was for the overall Iceland beer experience (but was really to keep from
going broke overspending!).
We offer more tips about the cost of beer in Iceland throughout this post, including the actual price of beer in Iceland as well as tips for saving money while imbibing on Icelandic beer.
Nightlife in Reykjavik: Where to Drink Craft Beer Iceland
Reykjavik nightlife abounds in the center of town, where there are a plethora of pubs, clubs and bars. As we were more interested in sampling Icelandic beer than partying, we veered away from the themed bars on the main drag (American Bar Reykjavik and Cafe Paris, to name two). Instead, we sought out the best places to drink local beer in Reykjavik, Iceland.
As the trend of craft beer in Iceland continues to grow, more bars in Reykjavik are serving craft alongside commercial brews. However, we think the best bars in Reykjavik are the ones dedicated to the craft beer revolution – and we highlight those bars on our list.
The Best Places to Drink Local Beer in Reykjavik
In our search for bars in Reykjavik serving locally produced Icelandic beer, we discovered craft beer bars right in the heart of the city. A few places offer happy hour deals, which helped with the high Icelandic beer prices.
Sadly, one of our top 3 recommended Reykjavik pubs is now closed – so we have removed it from our list. However – as the saying goes – when one door closes another door opens. In the time since our visit, there are now quite a few new craft beer bars in Reykjavik – and we feature the top-rated spots on our list!
For each location, we include a link to Google Maps so that fellow visitors can easily route their way to these Reykjavik beer bars. We have also created a helpful map of Reykjavik craft beer bar locations, which is at the end of the post.
#1 Skuli Craft Bar Reykjavik
MAP. Skuli Bar has both craft brew and happy hour, so obviously it is one of the best places to drink local beer in Reykjavik. With a friendly bar staff and equally friendly patrons, Skuli Bar is one of the cool bars in Reykjavik that is a fun place to kick back and relax after a day of touring the Golden Circle. Dedicated to craft brew, the beers are tasty, too.
In the dim interior, the chalkboard displaying which beers are currently on tap is highlighted behind the bar. Their rotating list includes a range of styles produced by local brewers. Only select beers are offered at happy hour prices.
Pro Tip: Don’t order just by price! Beers are poured in different sizes (200 to 500ml), which – along with ABV – is indicated on the chalkboard.
We ordered one of each of the two happy hour options: Brio (Pilsner) and Myrkvi (Porter). Although I don’t usually indulge in porters, it paired brilliantly with the cold and dark weather occurring outside the window during our winter visit. Both beers are produced by Borg Brewery Iceland (Borg Brugghus), a microbrewery born from Olgerdin, Iceland’s oldest brewery.
Although it was suggested by the bartender, we passed on a shot of the local schnapps, Brennivin, which is the Iceland drink of choice when consuming the country’s (in)famous fermented shark. We also made sure to steer clear of an Icelandic stout with 14.5% alcohol content and a price tag of $15.50 a glass.
The Skuli Bar happy hour lasts from 3pm until 7pm. While it made the expensive Reykjavik craft beer less expensive, the beers were, no doubt, still expensive.
Cost: We had 3 Borg Beer Myrkvi porters (1000 ISK happy hour/1300 ISK list) and 1 Brio pilsner (600 ISK happy hour/900 ISK list), which at happy hour cost 3600 ISK, or about $28.50 USD.
#2 Microbar Reykjavik
MAP. Located on the opposite end of the square from Skuli Bar, Iceland craft beer bar MicroBar is found down a flight of stairs in a subterranean basement. The atmosphere is cozy, yet the room is reminiscent of an open, yet small, beer hall. The bar staff was quick to tell stories and aid in beer selection and recount the history of craft beer in Iceland. They have a few fun board games on hand, too – and, when the weather is nice in the summertime, there is outdoor seating on their patio.
MicroBar Craft Beer Bar Reykjavik features local Iceland craft beer on tap and a happy hour, too! However, the happy hour is only for a couple of hours and is limited to just one choice. Patrons can also opt for beer tasting boards, where you get to choose either 5 or 10 beers to sample from their list. While getting to taste an array of local products is a fun way to try the local beer, the pricing is quite high. (The cost of 10 samples is 5000 krona, which is about $40 USD).
Because of our late return on our Iceland South Coast Tour, we just missed happy hour. Since there were no deals to be had, we opted for glasses of our preferred style of beers. We ordered a Olgjorvi Pale Ale and Tumi IPA (which we ranked as the best beer in Iceland that we tasted!).
Both beers are crafted by Gaedingur Brewing, which was established in 2011. During our visit, there were six Gaedingur craft beers offered on tap, in addition to six others from around the country. MicroBar also carries a large selection of bottled beer – all craft, which makes it one of the best pubs in Reykjavik for craft beer.
Cost: We had 2 Olgjorvi APAs (1200 ISK) and 2 Tumi IPAs (1400 ISK), which cost 5200 ISK, or about $40 USD.
#3 Icelandic Craft Bar
MAP. Earning rave reviews from beer fans, Icelandic Craft Bar offers locally produced craft beer from more than 15 Icelandic breweries on tap and in bottles and cans. The bar features different happy hours throughout the week and events (like comedy acts and karaoke) in their basement, as well.
#4 Session Craft Bar
MAP. Featuring beers by Malbygg Brewery Reykjavik, Session Craft Bar is touted as a fun place to drink good beer. The bar staff is knowledgeable about the beers they offer on tap – from local products to craft finds from around the world. They have a happy hour, too!
#5 Bryggjan Brugghus Microbrewery Reykjavik
MAP. Claiming to be the first Reykjavik microbrewery, Bryggjan Brewery brews their beer right in the city’s Old Harbor. What makes it one of the best breweries in Reykjavik is that they provide a unique experience, in that guests can pair fresh brew from the source with classic Icelandic seafood. They also offer a Reykjavik brewery tour, brew and food pairings and beer tasting experiences.
MAP. With 30 beers on tap and a happy hour, Bjorgardurinn gets high ratings from fellow beer enthusiasts. The daily happy hour is from 3pm until 7pm and offers 10 discounted draft beers, as well as a price reduction on bottled beers. They also serve local eats, including a specialty sausage bar (with vegan options, too!).
#7 Bastard Brew Pub
MAP. Not a truly dedicated craft beer bar, but with a selection of craft beer on tap, Bastard Brew Pub collaborates with local brewers (Egirsgard and Malbygg) to produce in-house beers. They also have a keen focus on craft cocktails and an international kitchen (Taco Tuesday gets great reviews!).
#8 RVK Brewing Company
MAP. Proclaimed to be a gem of a find by those who discover it, RVK Iceland Brewery in Reykjavik produces a range of beers (using local ingredients!) on site. In addition to their beers, they have a few select taps available for other Iceland breweries, too. The taproom is open from 4pm until 10pm (until 11pm on weekends) and is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Interested patrons can book an RVK Reykjavik Brewery Tour, on request.
#9 Olstofa Beer Bar Reykjavik
MAP. Slightly off the tourist trail, Olstofa offers a selection of local and worldwide craft brew – and a happy hour! Dubbed a Neighborhood Pub, the staff is friendly and the atmosphere is chill. They are one of the few Reykjavik craft beer bars that have a smoking room.
#10 Karolina Craft Bar Reykjavik
MAP. Just opened in 2019, Karolina Craft Beer features local beers from Viking Brewery, Einstok and Borg (among others!). Stylishly decorated, the hip bar also offers hand made cocktails and pizza.
#11 BrewDog Reykjavik
MAP. It seems these days that there is a BrewDog in every city, so we were not too surprised to see one open in Reykjavik. In addition to their line up of brews, the BrewDog Reykjavik Beer Bar also pours locally produced Iceland craft beers and feature a full menu of pub food.
Craft Beer in Reykjavik Map
Use our map to find bars serving the best craft beer in Reykjavik!
Iceland Beer Tips
Now that you know where to find the best Iceland beer in Reykjavik, we have a few more tips about drinking beer in Reykjavik!
Gull Beer Iceland
Although Gull Beer is far from craft brew, the beer has a long history in the country – and it is often the cheapest beer in Reykjavik bars – so it is worth a mention, as it is found on menus around the country.
Gull beer is made by Olgerdin Reykjavik Brewing Company, the parent company of Borg. They have a history of brewing beer, distilling spirits and creating soft drinks in Iceland since 1913.
Their secret ingredient is that they use pure Icelandic water in their products. Although mass-produced, Gull Iceland Beer is a Reykjavik original and is practically the national beer of Iceland. It is not the best Icelandic beer – but trying one while in the country almost seems mandatory.
Cost: We had 4 Gull beers at a bar (that is unfortunately now closed) that had the best happy hour Reykjavik prices we found during our visit. Each half-liter beer was only 6000 ISK at happy hour.
Pro Tip: We highly recommend also trying the Olgerdin orange soda, Egils Appelsin. In fact, we think it is one of the best local products – and we feature it on our list of the Best Reykjavik Food.
Iceland Beer Tours
Take your Icelandic beer experience up a notch! There are several Iceland Brewery Tour and Reykjavik Pub Crawl options that help introduce visitors to Iceland beer. With the unique history concerning alcohol consumption, the emerging craft beer scene and a thriving nightlife in Iceland, there is plenty to learn…and drink!
Brewery Tour Reykjavik
Beer lovers have a couple of options when it comes to touring breweries in Iceland.
As we previously mentioned, Bryggian is a Reykjavik Brewery in the heart of the city. In addition to their Reykjavik brewery tour (book it here!), they also offer an Icelandic food and beer pairing meal (get the details!).
One of the other breweries in Reykjavik, Iceland – RVK Brewing Company – also offers tours on request.
Note: Olgerdin Brewery – the oldest Iceland Brewery and producer of Gull beer and parent company of Borg Brew – used to run fun and affordable Reykjavik brewery tours, but no longer do.
Sightseeing with Iceland Beer Tour
Visitors can also combine sightseeing or adventure activities with beer tasting (which we think is a fabulous way to explore the country!).
Borgarfjordur and Beer Trip
The Borgarfjordur Day Trip and Brewery Tour combines dramatic landscapes, waterfalls and craft beer into one day of fun! On the guided tour, participants visit two waterfalls, historic villages, hot springs and end with a final stop at a family-run Iceland microbrewery. Reserve your spot!
River Rafting and Beer Tasting
Embark on a river rafting adventure in the Gullfoss Canyon on the Hvita River. After rafting in the beautiful surroundings, please your palate with a tasting of 4 locally produced beers. Find out more!
Craft Beer Bar Crawl Reykjavik
A guided Reykjavik Craft Beer Pub Crawl is a great way to get a taste of the local beer and learn about the history of beer in Iceland. Let a guide lead the way on a beer tour in Reykjavik as you sample craft beer and snacks at 4 Reykjavik pubs along with like-minded travelers. Book it now!
DIY Reykjavik Beer Tour
Rather than joining a tour, thrifty travelers can crate their own budget Reykjavik craft beer tour. Simply use our recommendations and map to find the best beer in Reykjavik on a self-guided pub crawl!
Iceland: Price of Beer
There is no doubt that beer prices in Reykjavik are excessive – but, to be honest, nearly everything in Iceland is pricey. The entire idea of Iceland on a budget is somewhat of an oxymoron. It’s simply not a budget destination and buying beer in Iceland pubs is just not cheap…especially when talking about craft beer.
As budget-conscious travelers, we kept a close eye on craft beer prices in Iceland…and we were astounded. As world travelers and craft beer enthusiasts, we can confirm there are few places that come close to the high price of a pint in Iceland – with craft beer in Oslo and Singapore being nearly as expensive.
How Much is a Pint in Reykjavik?
A pint of mass-produced beer (like Gull, Kaldi or Brio) will likely cost less than 1,000 ISK (about $7.75 USD) – and will be priced even cheaper with happy hour deals. If you are a traveler that is more worried about Iceland beer price than drinking the best Iceland beer, then these are probably going to be your best Reykjavik beer options.
Craft Brew: How Much is a Beer in Reykjavik?
Craft beer, on the other hand, costs more…a lot more. First off, it is important to understand that most craft beer is not served by the pint. Rather, Icelandic craft beers are poured in smaller increments – often in 200ml or 400ml serving sizes.
The listed price for the small glasses of craft beer is rarely less than 1,000 ISK. However, when we did the calculation to figure out the price of a pint in Reykjavik, it reveled that craft beer pints can cost upwards of 3,000 ISK, which is equivalent to more than $20 USD.
While the high price of beer in Iceland – and more specifically of Craft beer in Iceland – is jaw-dropping, the craft beer in Iceland is incredibly delicious. So, perhaps instead of only considering the question “How much is a beer in Iceland?”, the question should be, “How good is the beer in Iceland?” We think it is pretty phenomenal.
Where To Find Cheap Reykjavik Beer
The price of a pint in Reykjavik can seriously put a dent in a travel budget. In fact, the #1 money-saving tip for budget travelers visiting Iceland is to stay out of Reykjavik pubs. While that may be fine for some travelers, we were not going to let the cost of beer in Iceland deter us from trying a few local brews at pubs in Iceland.
The best budget tip for where to buy alcohol in Iceland is at the duty-free shop at the airport, which you can do on arrival. However, unless you are traveling with a group or just like to drink alone, we don’t think the monetary savings are worth bypassing the experience of meeting fellow travelers and mingling with locals in the Reykjavik pubs.
Therefore, rather than eliminating the entire experience of rocking up to a bar and enjoying a pint of beer from Iceland, we recommend seeking out happy hours in Reykjavik. Sipping slowly and limiting your overall intake of Reykjavik beer can also help to keep the budget in check.
Reykjavik Happy Hours
The cheapest beer prices in Reykjavik are happy hour specials – and most of the bars in the city offer happy hour discounts. Each bar sets their own hours – and they range from all day events to one-hour sessions. Prices can be discounted a few hundred Krona to nearly half price. The best happy hour in Reykjavik are the 2-for-1 deals, but these deeply discounted deals are mostly found on mass-produced beer, rather than craft brew.
Some of the cheapest happy hour bars in Reykjavik are found at the intersection of Laugavegur and Klapparstigur at bars like Lebowski Bar, Bravo and Kaffibrennslan. However, don’t expect craft beer to be included in their specials. Some hostels offer good prices on beer, too – like at the Kex Hostel happy hour.
Craft Beer Happy Hours
Most of the dedicated craft beer bars in Reykjavik offer happy hour specials to make Iceland craft beer a little more affordable. In our list of Reykjavik craft beer bars, we highlighted some of the best locations offering happy hour deals.
While opting for Icelandic craft beer over mass-produced beer will certainly increase your spending, we think it is well worth the upgrade. The cost of beer in Reykjavik is already expensive…it may as well taste good, too!
Want more tips of things to do in Iceland? Use our 3-Day Iceland Itinerary to help plan your trip!
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