It may come as a surprise, but Iceland has not one but two annual beer days! The official Beer Day falls on March 1st to celebrate the end of prohibition of beer in 1989. The second just so happens to fall today; it’s the Christmas Beer Day, and it begins at precisely 8:59 PM in bars across Reykjavík.
Danish in origin, this festivity is the creation of the Tuborg brewery, and it has been an annual event in Denmark since 1990. This joyous day falls on the first Friday of November and is nicknamed ‘J-Day’ since Christmas beer is ‘Julebryg’ in Danish and ‘Jólabjór’ in Icelandic.
Today, Tuborg’s Christmas beer arrives on tap to bars across the capital (and in some other larger towns in the country), and starting the minute before 9 PM, ‘Snjórinn fellur’ begins. This translates to ‘the snow is falling’, a reference to the original commercial that ran in Denmark in 1990 to advertise the first ‘J-Day’. It has aired on Danish television every year since making it the longest running commercial in Danish history
It also sits quite nicely with the settling of winter and the coming of Christmas which can only mean…festive beer!
The event is celebrated by Happy Hour and discounted prices while stocks last and the giving away of merchandise such as Tuborg Christmas hats. It’s an evening well-attended by locals and in previous years, kegs have routinely run dry, leaving behind a very merry crowd willing to continue the festivities with another brew.
Many Icelanders keenly anticipate the sale of Christmas beers and with the explosion of breweries and craft beers in the last few years, there is no shortage of suds from which to choose. Over 60 varieties of Christmas beer will go on sale in state liquor stores (Vínbúðin) from November 15th, and there’s often a scramble for people trying to figure out their favourite. Delectable noel notes include hints of caramel, cinnamon, roasted malt, liquorice and pine amongst countless other herbs and spices.
Some staple Christmas beers can be expected; however, most breweries will make considerable efforts to produce a unique vintage for each new year. Sampling and judging each new creation has turned into somewhat of a sport amongst beer, and some choose to collect the bottles.
Although first available on keg, Tuborg will not be the only company to offer the festive fizz on tap so feel free to ask bar staff about which Christmas beers they have on draft and get into the Yuletide spirit!
The Danish Pub at Ingólfsstræti 3 is the obvious place to go to immerse yourself for Tuborg’s beer o’clock! There are however other establishments offering deals including Public House Gastropub at Laugavegur 24 and many more.