Icelandic Beer To Drown Your World Cup Sorrows
Kerry A. Dolan
Forgive me, Iceland, but the only local drink I remember from my trip there last decade is Brennivin – a licorice-y clear spirit that comes with enough of a kick that its black label should read as a warning.

But the craft beer renaissance has reached the shores of the North Atlantic island with Einstök, a brewery 60 miles shy of the Arctic circle in the fishing village of Akureyi. The brewery first began making beer in 2011, and has been making its way into the U.S. since 2012. It’s now available in 16 states, including California, Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey.

Beer making in Iceland has a curious history. At the start of the 20th century beer was generally frowned upon in Iceland since it was associated with Denmark, the nation Iceland wanted to be independent from (a status finally attained in 1944.) In 1915, the temperance movement swept through Iceland, as it did elsewhere, and all alcohol was banned until 1935. Even at that point, beer over 2.5 percent alcohol by volume remained banned in the country, since beer was considered the cheapest alcoholic product to make and therefore the most likely to be abused. Stronger beer was legally only seen as part of the personal items of incoming air pilots and crew.

Remarkably, it wasn’t until 1989 that the ban was lifted on all beer in Iceland. Each March 1 now, Beer Day (or bjórdagurinn for those practicing their Icelandic at home) celebrates the repeal. Today, about 80 percent of domestic alcohol sales at Icelandic stores are beer, according to the U.S. website, Export.gov.

Einstök was founded by a trio of Americans in partnership with a local brewery. According to Einstök, the water used for the beer starts as rainfall or ancient glacial melt that comes from a mountain called Hlķšarfjall. It then flows through an ancient lava field where it is naturally filtered and naturally high in pH, with a balance of calcium and magnesium, according to the company in a 2016 post on its website.
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