Gleðileg jól

Happy Christmas from the land of the midday gloom! It can be quite pretty sometimes. Still quite looking forward to the mad daylight in England when I go back tomorrow.



Recently I went with Grétar and a lot of his friends to the "beer school" in Ölgerðin, in the big building where they actually do the brewing and that. For those of you not familiar with Icelandic beer culture, the two main breweries are Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson (who make Gull and Tuborg, two of the most popular lagers in Iceland) and Vífilfell (who make Víking, the other popular lager). Both companies also make a lot of other drinks, soft drinks and juices and so on, but who cares.

A subsidiary of Ölgerðin is the microbrewery Borg, which was also in the same building. There are various other microbreweries in Iceland (Kaldi and Ölvisholt come to mind... there are probably more?), but basically when you go to the pub, unless you go somewhere fancy like Microbar, the beers on tap are going to be Tuborg and/or Gull or Víking. Nowhere sells lagers from both breweries, it's like a Pepsi / Coke thing going on. Of course there are usually a few bottled Icelandic varieties available also.

Anyway, it was super fun and really interesting. The guy told us a bit about the general history of beer, loads of cool stuff about the history of beer in Iceland and how it came to be banned / re-legalised, about how beer is made, the main ingredients and their varieties, what effect that has on the taste and so on. We got to taste a few different sorts of beer (as well as unlimited-within-reason Gull) and also go to see the brewing equipment (in the microbrewery and the big brewery). A highly recommended evening's entertainment!


Icelanders tend to think that lýsi is some sort of miracle substance that will preserve your health forever. I always thought that it looked kind of gross, and that since I'd managed to survive so far without it, and pretty healthily as well, I'd just give it a miss. However, it has come to my attention that it is physically impossible to get enough vitamin D in an Icelandic winter without taking some sort of supplement. And that vitamin D deficiency can cause fatigue, which maybe isn't helping mine? So I thought maybe it would be worth it to get some lýsi after all. I was going to get the one you can take in pill form so you don't actually have to have cod liver oil in open contact with your tongue, but I couldn't find any in Melabúðin. Instead I went for the lemon flavoured version, because I thought it would be slightly less gross. Drinking a tablespoon of oil in the morning is actually not as bad as it seems like it would be (not saying I like it), and the lemon helps I think. Haven't really noticed much of an effect yet, but I only got the bottle a few days ago. It certainly can't be doing any harm. There's no way I'm drinking this stuff come the spring, though.