Austria and Iceland

My wife and I just got back from a two-week trip to Austria and Iceland, one week in each. Needless to say I took the opportunity to try new beers.


We were in Austria for a frend’s wedding. We stayed mosty in Salzburg, but were first up in the mountains in Assach. What I learned over the stay there was that most bars and restaurants seem to have only one beer, or at least a few beers but all from the same brewery. And most seemed to be Märzens. I tried quite a few, but since lagers never seem to excite me, they were all fine. The one that I really liked was the Stiegl Paracelcus Zwickl, a really nice unfiltered beer. Yes, a lager, but I really enjoyed this one. I will definitely be on the lookout for more beers of this type.

The last night we were there, we went to Alchimiste Belge, a Belgian beer bar. They had six or eight taps, and a lot of bottles. One of the taps was Stella, which I have a severe dislike of. For the first beer, I got my wife a tap beer: Echt Kriekenbier, from Brouwerij Verhaeghe. This had a really nice sour cherry taste to it. I got a bottle of La Trappe Tripel, from Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven. Very nice Tripel. My wife had another Echt Kriekenbie, and I got a Trappistes Rochefort 10, a Quadrupel from Abbey Notre-Dame de St. Rémy. This one was really delicious. Taste of sugar-coated candies. All at 11.3%! I was going to stop there, but then I saw the bottles of Lupulus, from Brasserie Les 3 Fourquets, and had to ask. I’d really been starving for hops and this looked like something I might need. Sure enough, the bartender said it was super hoppy and in his opinion the best beer they had there. Sold. And it was quite hoppy and quite delicious. I haven’t seen this in the US, but will be on the lookout, partially because it was so good, and partially to see if part of that was more because I was so starved for hops. If anyone is ever in Salzburg, I highly recommend Alchimiste Belge.

Other beers had:

Schladminger Märzen
Schladminger Schnee Weiße
Trumer Pils
Stiegl Goldbräu
Weissenburger Pilsener
Murauer Märzen
Zipfer Märzen


Iceland was very interesting in every way, very much including beer. Our first few days there were filled with a lot of activity; strenuous hike through a lava tube, glacier hike, scuba diving Silfra between the tectonic plates…. I was noticing that the beer with dinner and such for those first few days was pretty weak and boring, but didn’t put a lot of thought into it. Then I finally looked it up and learned that all beer in Iceland, unless in a bar or a government-sanctioned facility, is a maximum of 2.25% ABV. That explained it. This is due to prohibition limiting beer to be a maximum of 2.25% ABV, which was repealed in 1989.  It seems some of the bigger breweries there have their lighter versions and then the “real beer”. I started to try their real ones, but they just tasted like lager to me. Nothing exciting. In our own hotel’s bar, I did get to try one of their microbreweries’ beers, Snorri Nr. 10 from Borg Brugghüs. This is a spiced lager. Pretty good, but the flavors were also pretty muted. Another night with dinner I had a really good summer beer from Viking, one of their larger breweries, called Sumaröl. It was very cloudy, which I always love, and quite citrusy. The last night we were there we made it to Micro Bar, a really nice little bar featuring Icelandic microbreweries and international beers. There was a lot of Mikkeller. I asked about Evil Twin, but he said he has been trying to get it but has gotten no responses. This is where I finally got to try an Icelandic IPA, which I had read about. Röðull from Ölvshult Brugghús. I read it classified as an English IPA, and for that it was very good. I don’t think it would hold up to most American IPAs. My wife had a hefeweizen, Hveitibjór from Gæðingur. This one was also really good. That was our last night, so we unfortunately didn’t get to try any more beers from microbreweries. Next time.

Other beers had:

Viking Léttöl (I think – hard to tell which one sometimes)
Viking Classic
Cobra Premium (in a Nepalese restaurant)
Egils Gull (2.25%)
Egils Gull (5%)
Tuborg Grøn (Green) (Danish)
Tuborg Classic (Danish)


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