The Christmas season is the time of delicious food and beverages. From eggnog to mulled wine, to cinnamon hot chocolate and a pumpkin spiced latte and of course micro brewed Christmas beers. All these drinks share one thing in common, they are all full of spices and rich flavors that warm us up from the inside! No surprise there, as for most places in the northern hemisphere, Christmas is a cold and dark time in which a little bit of brightness goes a long way, especially if it tastes good as well! Iceland in the past few years has experienced a sudden boom in Christmas beer production and consumption. Pretty much every single brewery has created something special for this time of year, and it would surprise you just how many different types of beer are produced on our small island. Following is a list of my personal six favorite beers of the season with taste descriptions and lovely pictures, so that you can surely find what you are looking for, enjoy!
This delicious rich beer is on the darker side with a beautiful dark caramel-brown color. The first flavor notes include old fashioned black liquorish and deep caramel followed by dark chocolate. It is pleasantly sweet to begin with yet as the sip ends the flavor changes, and becomes hearty yet subtly bitter. This is a truly rich beer with a complicated flavor that could be overwhelming for those used to simple lager beers. If you like an IPA though, give this a try, for though it is much sweeter and spicier it will please your need for full flavor.
The first obvious flavors are vanilla, liquorice, nutmeg and cloves so it is pleasantly and heavily spiced. As one drinks more there appears what tasted almost like cola flavor. The color is a dark chocolate brown and this beer provides you with something you would expect from a flavorful and satisfying Christmas beer. It has an easy going bitter end followed by the smooth vanilla flavor.
Kaldi produces a solid Christmas brew, with a shiny amber color. It has a balanced and soft flavor profile comprised mainly by a combination of hints of sweetness, hopps bitter with a crisp aftertaste. It is a solid and enjoyable beer, which is special enough to feel festive but light enough to drink several of.
Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson is the largest brewery in Iceland and is best known for their award winning Gull lager. They have also produced a product deer to all Icelanders called Malt Extract Soda, which is a drink made through a particular germinated barley process. This beloved drink is almost alcohol free and during Christmas is mixed with an orange soda also created by Ölgerðin called Appaelsín. The beer called Egils Malt Jólabjór is essentially an alcoholic version of Malt. It has a very sweet profile, with the major flavors being burned caramel and molasses. The beer is slightly less sweet that the original Malt, but it shares the quality of being rather simple yet satisfying. This is a beer that you could drink a lot of, especially if you like Malt.
Ölgerðin's biggest competition on the market is the producer of this beer, and is a brewery called Vífilsfell. They are best known for producing the Víking lager beer. This is the Christmas version, and this year it turned out better than I had expected. It has a warm amber color and the flavor profile can best be described as a hoppy lager. It is not very spiced or adventurous, but as a Christmas version of a lager beer it is pleasant. Well balanced, though not very complex.
My first reaction to this beer was 'wow, how delicious'! This is an unfiltered beer, which provides it with a hearty and deep flavor. The most dominant of which is a creamy caramel with rich sweetness that is just right, as it doesn't go overboard. It has a slight hint citrus and a full bodied flavor and is a dark chocolate color. This beer is not as demanding as the Dopplebock, for it is less intense, and has a very smooth finish. It is perfect to pair with the Christmas dinner and even better with desert.
Hands down my favorite of the six has to be Gæðingur Jólabjór. It is both great if you want to go out and have a couple festive Christmas beers, yet it would also pair well with the main meal on the 24th and 25th of December. Though, for many the Víkingur Jólabjór will be their favorite as a great flavorful alternative to their usual tap lager choice at a bar. The best choice of all however, is definitely to drink one of each and have a jolly night!