Whey, Ale & more

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From early on Icelanders drank a lot of whey. A mix of soured whey and water was an everyday-drink. Sometimes it was flavored with creeping thyme, berries or sheep sorrel. Whey becomes slightly alcoholic as it is soured, as such the process is similar to the fermentation of ale. Whey is used to make a variety of drinks today, as it is known to be wholesome. You can even get a whey drink flavored with blueberries.

Alcoholic beverages
The selection and quality of Icelandic microbrews is especially striking when we consider the fact that beer was banned in Iceland as recently as 1989. Icelandic beer culture has evolved rapidly in the past few years, as several excellent microbreweries and microbrew-pubs have opened up. Today locals and travellers alike can choose from a wide selection of local brews.

There are several craft distilleries in Iceland making vodka, gin and whiskey as well as berry or birch liqueur. Iceland´s signature liquor is Brennivin, often used to swallow down our fermented shark. An excellent combination!

Icelanders are big coffee drinkers. Coffee is not grown in Iceland (except for a few beans in the experimental greenhouse in Hveragerði on the south coast, where they also grow bananas). Coffee and coffee beans are therefore imported. Today a few Icelandic companies import coffee directly from coffee farmers, burn and roast the coffee here. Icelanders didn’t begin roasting coffee until the mid-18th century; before that, the people at Skálholt (ancient bishop seat) made a porridge from the unroasted beans. By around 1760, green coffee had become a common product: practically every home had their own roaster and grinder, and by 1850, coffee had become an inseparable part of the working day. By the end of the 19th century coffee was thoroughly intertwined with Icelandic culture, much like it is today. Read more.

Kombucha is another drink that is being made in Iceland, and since it is made from fermented and flavored tea, the process is reminiscent of soured whey. Kombucha is thought to be good for digestion.