Iceland has a burgeoning craft beer culture, with numerous bars dedicating their efforts to the finest in micro-brewing.

Do you want to experience the drinking culture in Iceland? Are you Looking for the best bars in Reykjavik for craft beers? Read on to learn about Reykjavík's ever-growing craft beer culture. 

The Rise of the Craft Beer Culture

To the delight of locals and visitors alike, the trend for brewing and drinking craft beer is picking up momentum in Reykjavík. In the past, downtown bars predominantly served mainstream lagers such as Víking, Gull or Carlsberg, and for a long time, Icelandic beer culture simply didn't develop.

This is in part due to the fact that in the early 20th century, Icelanders perceived the act of drinking beer to be unpatriotic—beer was the national drink of Denmark, from whom Iceland was trying to gain independence. In fact, beer was once considered so unpatriotic that it was banned in the country until 1989

Nowadays, however, you can find a fine selection of craft beers in nearly every bar in downtown Reykjavik; a victory for the people, if ever there was one! If you are looking for the very best, allow us to present the Craft Bar Trinity in Reykjavik (a term coined by the beer enthusiasts within Guide to Iceland... no one else will know what it refers to). 

A MicroBar taster tray, offering you the chance to explore all the different types of brew on offer.

The holy trinity consists of Skúli Craftsbar, MicroBar, and Mikkeller & Friends. Many amongst us have also argued for the inclusion of hot newcomer, Bryggjan Brugghús (thus making a less memorable 'holy square').

All of these locations are within an easy walking distance from each other, making it easy to tipsily make your way from one hot spot to the next. You know what they say: when in Iceland, drink as the Vikings do! And if they don't say that, perhaps it's because we decided to coin that phrase as well. 

Skuli Craftsbar – The Classy

Skúli Craftsbar is the best spot to dip into the craft beer scene for the first time. It's also arguably the best start to your afternoon/evening in downtown Reykjavik. The bar offers happy hour prices from between 2pm and 7pm. 

At Skúli Craftsbar you can find an excellent variety of up to 14 different beers on tap. The bar has a strong focus on the award-winning recipes from the Borg brewery and boasts a warm and relaxed atmosphere; the interior is complemented with a bright wooden bar and sophisticated artwork, making it the most elegant and refined choice among our preferred spots.

Skúli Craftsbar is the most sophisticated of the Craft Bar options in Reykjavik.

The beer, perhaps, is not cheap, but you can choose from some of the best beers in Iceland, served by very knowledgeable and friendly staff. If you are in the mood for trying different brews, they also offer small tasting glasses; a major bonus for your wallet!

Staple drinks at Skúli include the award-winning Bríó (Pilsner), Garún (Imperial Stout) and Úlfur (Indian Pale Ale), all descendants of the Borg Brewery. If you would like to try something more experimental then you should ask for Leifur, named after the famous Icelander Leifur Eiríksson (or Leifur the Lucky) who discovered America many years before its perceived discoverer, Christopher Columbus. 

Considered a Nordic saison (or pale ale), Leifur is brewed with an arctic thyme that is native to Iceland. It offers a fresh taste and is perfect to drink during a bright Icelandic summer night—or the perfect drink to brighten you up during the long, dark winter.

In recent times, the bar has also opted for "tap takeovers" where other breweries from Scandinavia (and other parts of the world) can come and surprise guests with their own national brews!

Skúli Craftsbar has a wide variety of different brews just waiting for you to try them!

If you'd like to go even more avant-garde, try ordering a so-called Tilraunalögun (literally translated to “experimental brew") – a peculiar brew that, as of yet, has no name and is only served to test the market.

In our case, we found the concoction to be similar to a sour ale, but with a more potent, unique and memorable taste. Some connoisseurs have even been able to detect hints of a geothermal hot spring... this is truly a taste for the most ambitious of drinkers! 

Guests to Skúli Craftsbar can choose from lagers, pale ales and eccentric brewing recipes from across Iceland.

If the current mixture of beers on tap does not suit your taste, bear in mind that there is a massive selection of premium bottled craft brews from all over the world available too. Just ask your friendly bartender. 

Skúli Craftsbar
Address: Aðalstræti 9, 101 Reykjavik
- Opening Hours: Sunday - Thursday 2pm – 11pm | Friday & Saturday: 2pm – 1am
- Happy Hour: 2pm – 7pm
- Price: 900 ISK and up

MicroBar - The Pragmatic 

Right around the corner from Skúli, you'll find MicroBar, one of the oldest craft beer bars in Iceland. Its ambience and interior has more of a modern and pragmatic approach than its counterpart's and is in fact in slight contrast to what one would normally associate with the craft beer culture.

Regardless, the beers are top-notch and you can choose from up to 10 beers on tap, plus a large variety of bottled craft beers. 

The bar used to be located in Austurstræti - in the bowels of the City Center Hotel - but due to its high popularity, the owners decided to cross the street and expand their premises. Having done so, they now operate one of the trendiest craft beer bars in the whole of Iceland. 

MicroBar is one of the oldest craft bars in Reykjavik, having served its own brews for around three years.

If decision-making is not your forte, you can order a beer tasting tray for a special price. With your purchase made, you will be enticed by a plethora of choice, straight out of Gæðingur brewery—what Borg beer is to Skúli, Gæðingur beer is to MicroBar!  

Gæðingur is a small brewery in north Iceland, owned and operated by the same people as MicroBar itself. No wonder then that special effort has been made to ensure that the brewery's best products find their way to the MicroBar's taps.

Switching over from the quirky and experimental brews so prevalent in Skúli, we recommend you try one of the stronger, darker choices here. If you happen to appreciate the rich and strong taste of chocolate or coffee, the Stout from Gæðingur will be your new best friend—or your worst enemy the morning after.

If you and your friends are not overly enthused by fancy craft beers, you can also enjoy a traditional pilsner from Kaldi brewery, namely the Czech Budweiser. 

Sometimes after exploring different tastes, it's easier and most satisfying to hit a traditional lager. Bliss.

- Address: Vesturgata 2, 101 Reykjavik (Basement of Reykjavik Restaurant) 
- Opening Hours: 4pm – 12:30am
- Happy Hour: 5pm – 7pm
- Price: 700 ISK and up 

Mikkeller & Friends – The Tasteful

Among our distinguished bars and pubs, Mikkeller & Friends is the most unique in terms of its atmosphere and interior design, making it a cosy choice to visit either on your own or with friends.

Mikkeller & Friends has some incredibly eclectic and cozy interior design.

But, if you've already had difficulty choosing amongst all the beer options we mentioned above, then the variety on offer in Mikkeler & Friends will make your life even more complicated.

Here you can choose amongst 20 different beers on tap and the small glass option, like in Skúli, comes in handy if you'd like to try before you buy.

At Mikkeller & Friends, you can choose from up to twenty different beers on tap.

Beer experts already know that Mikkeller is a Danish company brewing in collaboration with established microbreweries around the world. With that being said, it is no wonder the brewery operators decided to open a bar in downtown Reykjavik, strengthening the craft brewing culture even further.  

Here you can find beers on tap that you can hardly find anywhere else. For example, the Hverfisgata Pils (Hverfisgata is the name of the street where the bar is located), a fresh and easy-to-drink lager.

Other examples are Sur Citra, an IPA style brew concocted with skins of citrus fruits, adding a fruity and summery touch to a hoppy brew, and then the Hverfisgata Spontan, a Reykjavik exclusive that offers quite the surprise tastewise.  

It's your choice entirely whether you choose to drink light, dark or both!

Mikkeller & Friends
Address: Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavik
- Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 5pm - 1am | Friday & Saturday 2pm - 1am |        Sunday 5pm - 1am
- Happy Hour: There is no happy hour
- Price: 800 ISK and up

Bryggjan Brugghús - The Newcomer

As detailed, the craft bar scene used to be dominated by the three bars mentioned above. Knowing the thirst for quality brews, however, hot newcomer Bryggjan Brugghús decided to break the mould; instead of simply offering quality beers, why not make them too?

The bar's philosophy is to bring the best nightlife ingredients straight to the customer. Live music... CHECK! Great food... CHECK! Craft brews made on location, TRIPLE CHECK! What else could a city slicker need? 

An example of the brewing equipment used by BB.

Located in the harbour, their large building accommodates the necessary equipment to make their tasty brews. They are in strong allegiance to the seasonal brews and always launch their own twist on what are now starting to become mainstream winter, summer and Easter beers. Bryggjan Brugghús always does things its own way!

We can particularly recommend Hop Dylan and the fruity yet bitter IPA, always on tap, and applauded by the beer connoisseurs of the capital. The brewery is also a large provider of red ale and lager, both of which have been highly praised by the local and international community. 

If too many beers are making you a bit peckish, they have an excellent dinner/lunch menu on the other side of the bar. If you are not game for a big platter, the snacks are definitely worth mentioning too!

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, do not hesitate to ask the bar staff for their brew of the month. This is not limited to just beers; all possibilities are offered! Beer cocktails... at this hour, why not?

Though beer in Iceland is expensive, there are numerous deals on offer, from 2 for 1 deals to afternoon Happy Hours.

Being one of the largest venues, able to accommodate groups of all sizes, Bryggjan Brugghús decided to branch out even further and offer beer tours, complete with an obligatory beer tasting.

One of their knowledgeable staff will walk you around the brewing premises (conspicuously hidden behind a massive glass wall on the main area of the bar) and explain the process of brewing "liquid bread", as well as the importance of using quality materials.

BB offers its patrons a variety of tipple choices.

One more thing, if you are looking for a good plan for Sunday and you need to add a touch of class to your drinking time, they are actually one of the best venues to listen to live jazz. Every Sunday from 21:00 you will be able to enjoy locals doing their own take of Americas's best musical export.

Bryggjan Brugghús
- Address: Grandagarði 8
- Opening Hours: 11:30am – 11:00pm
- Happy Hour:  4pm - 7pm
- Price: 800 ISK and up