Beer from 66 degrees north (nearly)

Week 28

An excursion to Iceland this week, which is almost on the Arctic Circle, around 66 degrees north. Beer was banned there until the late 1980s, and is still not easily available in shops – it can only be bought from government liquor stores, which are few and far between. Bars, as such, are not an Icelandic thing (Reykjavik aside, which in part resembles Newcastle’s Bigg Market) although you can buy a beer in cafes and restaurants. Before visiting the volcanic island, I’d tried the very decent Einstok bottled beers, readily available in England. The first few beers I drank while there were from the large (for Iceland) Viking Brewery, but later highlights included the very enjoyable Kaldi dark lager (5 per cent) from Dalvik on the north coast, and the splendid and splendidly named Lava beer from the Olvisholt Brugghus (brewpub, literally) sited near the Hekla volcano. Lava is over 9 per cent, a rich chocolatey smoked Imperial stout. These spellings are not quite correct, since I lack an Icelandic keyboard – their alphabet has 33 characters! Now back to work……

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