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Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

The “Christmas beer” is coming! Christmas beer sales have increased 150% in the last decade

By Staff

  • A glass of cold craft beer The Kaldi Christmas beer is already available on tap at select bars, including Kaldi bar, downtown Reykjavík, but you need to wait to 13 November for it to arrive on the shelves of ÁTVR stores. Photo/George Leite

One of the things which mark the coming of the holiday season in Iceland is the seasonal “Christmas beer”. Some bars in Reykjavík are already selling Christmas beer on tap, with some of the Icelandic micro-breweries having released their seasonal brews on tap. However, the real beginning of the “Christmas beer season” is marked by the arrival of the seasonal varieties on the shelves of the state liquor stores, which will take place on 13 November this year. 

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Viking Christmas beer It's big brother the strong (5.6%) lager beer Viking Gylltur (Golden) is Iceland's far most popular beer.

34 varieties to choose from
This years’ selection will include 34 different varieties, compared to 29 last year, ensuring beer lovers will have a lot to choose from, or many different varieties to sample.

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

Sigrún Ósk Sigurðardóttir, vice president of ÁTVR, the state liquor monopoly, tells the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that while the stores have been selling seasonal Christmas beers since 1989, when beer was made legal again after having been banned since prohibition was introduced in 1915, it is only in the last ten years or so that the sale of seasonal brews has taken off. In 2015 ÁTVR sold 268,000 litres (70,000 gallons) compared to 670,000 litres (180,000 gallons), an increase of ca. 150%.

Not an addition: The holiday season is simply becoming beer season
Sigrún tells Fréttablaðið the sales of Christmas beer do not increase alcohol consumption over the holidays, as the sales clearly come at the expense of other varieties. “We clearly see a movement from other varieties at the same time. This is not an addition.”

The release of each season’s Christmas beers is always waited with significant anticipation by beer lovers. The Icelandic brewery releases its own special seasonal Christmas beer, with the micro-breweries going to great lengths to come up with new, exciting and innovative brews to complement the ginger bread cookies and holiday spirit.

In the next weeks we at Iceland Magazine will do our best to offer you a guide to this season’s selection.

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