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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Iceland - Egils Gull & Burning Bread

I'm in Iceland. The country not the supermarket.

I walked into a shop earlier and they were selling beer for the same price as Diet Coke. Everything is so expensive, but the beer is the same price as Coke. I bought some flat breads and they tasted like burning; imagine the smell of a barbecue when you attempt to clean it the morning after use - well it tasted like that. It tasted like someone grabbed it whilst they were fleeing a burning building. Why would you save baked goods from a burning building? If bread is at the top of your "must save" list then you need to get a cat or something.

The beer turned out to be 2.5%, which is probably why it was so cheap. It was called Egils Gull and, as luck would have it, the mini bar in my hotel room happened to have a Gull branded glass. It tasted terrible; like soda water with a drop of beer concentrate in it. Oddly sweet, a carbon dioxide metallic quality and some limp bitterness to finish.

I get the feeling that they don't much care for beer over here.


Ed said...

It's probably all they can afford now!

Mark Dredge said...

"I'm in Iceland. The country not the supermarket." Brilliant.

This sounds horrendous. Do they make any other beers?! A cold country like that surely needs some big bruisers to warm you up...

And what's with that bread?!

Mark said...

I didn't really check before leaving, but I'm assuming the low ABV beer in supermarkets is something to do with the law and liscencing. I think they might have government run shops that sell the stronger stuff.

Mark: Exactly what I was thinking! Some Whisky-infused monster would be exactly right for the freezing nights over here. We're heading into the city today, so I'll be on the look out.

Finished off the rest of that bread this morning. Tasted like I was eating last nights ash tray. Yum.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right about the law: I recall that my friend saying something about beer of normal ABV essentially being banned (at least historically) from most outlets, so there's a habit of buying low ABV beer and topping it up with vodka. The UK government should take note.

Beer was banned altogther until 1988! http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/11/world/beer-soon-for-icelanders.html

Mark said...

Hadn't heard about the Vodka beer thing, that sounds terrible! It is a legal thing though, shops can't sell beer over 2.25%, so you end up with loads of weaker versions of standard beers. Very odd.

You can only buy stronger beer from government run shops called Vinbud. I found this out the hard way ... but I also managed to find a branch of the Vinbud nearby! ;)

Anonymous said...

When I was in Iceland in the 90s, as well as the 2.25% Egils Gull in the supermarkets and the 5/6% stuff in Vinbud, there was an 8% (I think) Egils beer only available duty-free - and the duty-free shop was in the *arrivals* terminal at Keflavik. Mixing the two together produced a reasonable drink...

Iceland was one of the last (non-Muslim!) countries in the world to abolish prohibition on beer - and it had kept a ban on beer long after it re-legalised wine and spirits, as the local temperance lobby was especially anti-beer.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in northern Iceland, member of a small beer club here. You need to go to "Vinbud" store to get strong beer. The government has a monopoly on selling beer above 2.5%

Beer was allowed in Iceland 1. march 1989 - a very good day for many of us.

There are good beers made here in Iceland, just go to ratebeer.com and browse for "Iceland" to find them. For example "Ölvisholt Lava" (imperial stout) gets 99 points for overall score.

Mark said...

Hi Anon. I did manage to find some good (stronger) beer in the end. I even managed to find the Lava (which was great)! Heard the brewery is out of business now though. Is that true?

Have a look here: http://www.beerbirrabier.com/2010/12/iceland-i-found-beer.html

and here: http://www.beerbirrabier.com/2010/12/ive-found-it-readers-beer-central-in.html

Thanks for the comment! :)

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