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A Strong Icelandic Beer, So Good They Named It Twice


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tarra Dame



When it comes to food and travel, there is nothing quite like immersing yourself in the local cuisine and experiencing the unique flavors and culinary traditions of a destination. One country that has become increasingly popular among food and travel enthusiasts is Iceland. Known for its stunning landscapes, geothermal hot springs, and rich cultural heritage, Iceland is also gaining a reputation for its culinary scene, particularly its beverages.


In recent years, Icelandic beer has been making waves both locally and internationally. One particular beer that has caught the attention of beer lovers around the world is a strong Icelandic brew, aptly named “So Good They Named It Twice”. This beer not only embodies the craftsmanship and creativity of Icelandic brewers but also reflects the cultural significance and innovation that Iceland is known for.


In this article, we will explore the origins of Icelandic beer, delve into the story behind the double name, learn about the process of crafting this exceptional brew, and savor the flavors through tasting notes. Additionally, we will discuss the cultural significance of Icelandic beer and how it has become an integral part of the country’s social fabric. So, grab a pint and join us on this journey to discover the world of Icelandic beer.


The Origins of Icelandic Beer

Beer brewing has a long history in Iceland, dating back to the time of the Vikings. The early settlers of Iceland introduced the art of brewing, using ingredients such as grains, herbs, and wild berries to create their beverages.


However, with the adoption of Christianity in the 11th century, beer production faced significant challenges. The Christian church, influenced by continental Europe, discouraged the consumption of beer and imposed heavy restrictions on brewing. As a result, beer brewing almost disappeared in Iceland for several centuries.


Fast forward to the 19th century, when Iceland gained more independence from Denmark, there was a renewed interest in Icelandic culture and traditions. This resurgence also brought back the love for brewing. Beer brewing was once again allowed, and Icelandic entrepreneurs began experimenting with different recipes and techniques.


However, it wasn’t until 1989 that the Icelandic government fully legalized beer. Until that point, beer with an alcohol content over 2.25% was banned in Iceland due to a historic misunderstanding of a law. This day, March 1st, is now celebrated as Beer Day to commemorate the end of the ban.


Since the legalization, the Icelandic beer scene has seen tremendous growth and innovation. Local breweries have emerged, each with their own unique style and flavors. The desire to use locally sourced ingredients and showcase Icelandic traditions has become a hallmark of Icelandic beer production. From traditional styles to experimental brews, there is a wide range of options available for beer enthusiasts to explore and appreciate.


Today, Icelandic beer has gained international recognition, with many breweries winning awards and exporting their products to different parts of the world. The unique natural resources of Iceland, such as pristine water, wild botanicals, and volcanic landscapes, contribute to the distinct character and quality of Icelandic beer.


With a rich history and a vibrant modern scene, Icelandic beer has become a symbol of the country’s creativity, resilience, and love for quality craftmanship. The next time you find yourself in Iceland, be sure to raise a glass and toast to the long and fascinating journey of Icelandic beer.


The Birth of the Double Name

One of the most intriguing aspects of Icelandic beer is the tradition of giving beers double names. This unique practice is rooted in Icelandic culture and adds another layer of charm to the already fascinating world of Icelandic brewing.


The double names of Icelandic beers often consist of two words or phrases that are repeated, creating a rhythmic and memorable combination. For example, the famous beer “So Good They Named It Twice” perfectly captures this tradition. This playful naming convention is not only catchy but also serves as a reflection of Icelandic humor and linguistic creativity.


The double naming tradition dates back to the early days of legalizing beer in Iceland. At that time, the government imposed strict regulations on the labeling and advertisement of alcoholic beverages. To comply with these regulations, brewers had to come up with creative ways to showcase their products while adhering to the legal restrictions.


By giving their beers double names, brewers found a loophole that allowed them to express their branding and promote their products. The repetition of words within the name added a touch of distinction and memorability, making it easier for consumers to identify and remember their favorite brews.


Furthermore, the double naming tradition has become a way for Icelandic breweries to showcase their uniqueness and creativity. It is an opportunity to play with words, generate intrigue, and create a sense of anticipation for the flavors that lie within the bottle.


Beyond the marketing aspect, the double names of Icelandic beers also serve as a reflection of the Icelandic language and its poetic nature. The Icelandic language is known for its rich vocabulary, elaborate grammar, and historical connections to Old Norse. This linguistic heritage is celebrated through the double naming tradition, adding an extra layer of cultural significance to the beers themselves.


Today, the double naming tradition continues to thrive in the Icelandic beer scene. Breweries take pride in coming up with clever and memorable names for their creations, often drawing inspiration from Icelandic folklore, nature, or contemporary themes. Each double-named beer tells a story and invites beer lovers to embark on a sensory journey of taste and imagination.


So, the next time you come across an Icelandic beer with a double name, be prepared to indulge not only in the flavors it offers but also in the fascinating tradition and cultural richness behind its unique moniker.


Crafting a Strong Icelandic Beer

One of the standout characteristics of Icelandic beer is its strength. Icelandic brewers are known for their expertise in crafting strong and robust beers that pack a punch in both flavor and alcohol content. So, how do they achieve this impressive feat?


One of the key factors in crafting a strong Icelandic beer is the careful selection and balance of ingredients. Local breweries often opt for high-quality malts and hops, sourced not only from Iceland but also from around the world. The malts provide the base for the beer, contributing to its color, body, and sweetness, while the hops add bitterness, flavor, and aroma.


Water, another critical ingredient, plays a significant role in Icelandic beer production. The pristine water sources found in Iceland, thanks to the country’s abundance of glaciers and volcanic formations, provide a high level of purity and unique mineral composition. This water is essential for achieving the desired taste and texture in the final product.


Traditionally, Icelandic brewers are known for their commitment to using local and natural ingredients. They take advantage of the stunning landscapes and diverse flora found in Iceland to incorporate botanicals, such as wild herbs and berries, into their recipes. These botanicals not only infuse the beer with distinct flavors but also pay homage to the country’s rich natural heritage.


When it comes to the brewing process, Icelandic brewers are known for their attention to detail and their commitment to traditional brewing methods. These methods may include step mashing, long fermentation times, and cold conditioning, all of which contribute to the complexity and depth of flavors that can be found in a strong Icelandic beer.


Another technique used in crafting strong Icelandic beers is yeast management. Brewers carefully select yeast strains that can withstand high alcohol environments, ensuring a thorough fermentation process and maximizing the potential of the beer. This results in a well-balanced and harmonious final product, where the alcohol is integrated seamlessly with the flavors and aromas.


Overall, crafting a strong Icelandic beer is a combination of artistry, skill, and a deep understanding of the ingredients and brewing process. Icelandic brewers are constantly pushing boundaries and experimenting with new techniques to create beers that not only satisfy the palates of beer enthusiasts but also showcase the craftsmanship and innovation that Iceland is known for.


So, the next time you raise a glass of a strong Icelandic beer, take a moment to appreciate the dedication and expertise that went into crafting this exceptional brew. It is a testament to the passion and creativity of Icelandic brewers and an invitation to savor the bold flavors and unique character of Icelandic beer.


Tasting Notes and Flavors

When it comes to Icelandic beer, the range of flavors and tasting notes is as diverse as the country’s breathtaking landscapes. Each brew tells its own story and offers a unique sensory experience. Let’s dive into the world of Icelandic beer and explore some of the common flavors and tasting notes you can expect to encounter.


1. Crispness and Refreshing Bitterness: Many Icelandic beers exhibit a refreshing crispness with a balanced bitterness. The use of hops, both local and imported, contributes to this characteristic. You may experience a pleasantly bitter kick on your palate, complemented by a clean and refreshing finish.


2. Herbal and Botanical Infusions: Icelandic brewers often incorporate local herbs and botanicals into their beers, adding an intriguing twist to the flavor profile. Expect to encounter hints of juniper, birch, angelica, and other wild botanicals, which infuse the beers with a unique, earthy, and sometimes floral character.


3. Rich Maltiness: Many Icelandic beers have a strong malt backbone, providing a rich and robust flavor profile. You may notice notes of caramel, toffee, and even hints of chocolate, adding depth and complexity to the brew.


4. Fruit and Berry Infusions: Drawing inspiration from Iceland’s abundant flora, some beers feature additions of local fruits and berries. These infusions impart a delightful sweetness and fruity acidity to the beer, creating a harmonious balance with the other flavors.


5. Smoky Undertones: In the tradition of Icelandic cuisine, smoky flavors occasionally find their way into beers. Some breweries experiment with using smoked malts, creating beers with a subtle smoky undertone reminiscent of traditional Icelandic smoked foods.


6. Yeast-Derived Esters: The choice of yeast strains is crucial in beer production, as they influence the aromatic profile. Icelandic beers may showcase yeast-derived esters, which can contribute to fruity and spicy aromas. You may detect hints of banana, clove, or other delicate flavors derived from the yeast.


It’s important to note that while there are some general flavor profiles associated with Icelandic beer, each brewery and beer will have its own unique characteristics. Whether you’re exploring an IPA, a porter, a farmhouse ale, or a traditional Icelandic-style beer, each sip of Icelandic beer promises to be a journey of flavors and a chance to discover new taste sensations.


So, the next time you have the opportunity to enjoy a glass of Icelandic beer, take your time to savor each sip, allowing the flavors to unfold on your palate. From the refreshing bitterness to the botanical infusions and rich maltiness, Icelandic beer is a true celebration of flavor and a testament to the creativity and innovation of Icelandic brewers.


The Cultural Significance of Icelandic Beer

Icelandic beer holds a special place in the country’s cultural landscape, representing more than just a beverage. It has become a symbol of Icelandic identity, a way to connect with traditions, and a means to foster community and celebration.


Beer holds historical and cultural significance in Iceland, especially due to the ban that was lifted in 1989. The end of the ban on beer marked a significant moment of liberation for the Icelandic people, allowing them to embrace and celebrate their own traditions and cultural practices.


Since then, beer has become deeply ingrained in Icelandic social life, often enjoyed at gatherings, festivals, and even family events. It has become a staple in Icelandic celebrations, such as Þorrablót, a mid-winter festival where traditional Icelandic food and drink are enjoyed, including Icelandic beer.


Additionally, beer has transformed into a medium for storytelling and cultural expression. Icelandic breweries often incorporate elements of Icelandic folklore and mythology into their branding and beer names, creating a connection between the past and the present. This blending of the old and the new is a testament to the importance of heritage and the desire to preserve and celebrate Icelandic culture.


The local beer scene has also become a source of national pride, with breweries not only showcasing Icelandic ingredients but also championing sustainable brewing practices. The commitment to using local resources, supporting local farmers, and minimizing environmental impact aligns with Iceland’s values of environmental stewardship.


Furthermore, Icelandic beer has become a source of inspiration for other creative industries. Chefs and food artisans incorporate beer into their recipes, creating unique beer-infused dishes. The connection between beer and food has given rise to beer and food pairing events, further showcasing the versatility and complexity of Icelandic beer.


On a more personal level, beer has become a means for Icelanders to connect and bond with each other. It is a catalyst for social interaction and a way to strengthen relationships. Whether it’s sharing stories over a pint at a local pub or participating in beer-related events, beer has become a conduit for fostering connections and creating a sense of community.


In summary, Icelandic beer has transcended its role as a mere beverage and has become an integral part of Icelandic culture. It signifies freedom, celebration, and the preservation of traditions. It fosters a sense of national pride and promotes sustainability. Through its incorporation of folklore and mythology, it connects Icelanders to their heritage. Moreover, it serves as a catalyst for social interaction and community-building. Icelandic beer truly represents the cultural fabric of Iceland, making it a must-try for those seeking to understand and experience the essence of this remarkable country.



Exploring the world of Icelandic beer is like embarking on a sensory journey through the rich landscapes and cultural heritage of Iceland. From its origins rooted in Viking history to the modern-day craft breweries pushing the boundaries of flavor and innovation, Icelandic beer offers a captivating experience for beer enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.


Throughout this article, we’ve delved into the origins of Icelandic beer and its journey from prohibition to becoming a symbol of Icelandic identity and celebration. We’ve discovered the unique tradition of double naming, which adds a distinctive charm to the beers and reflects Iceland’s linguistic creativity. We’ve also explored the craftsmanship behind creating strong Icelandic beers, emphasizing the meticulous attention to ingredients, processes, and local resources.


Tasting notes and flavors have showcased the diversity and complexity of Icelandic beers, with crisp bitterness, herbal and botanical infusions, rich maltiness, and even hints of fruit, berries, and smoke. Each sip offers a glimpse into the natural beauty and cultural richness of Iceland.


Moreover, we’ve unraveled the cultural significance of Icelandic beer, how it has become intertwined with Icelandic traditions, celebrations, and storytelling. It symbolizes liberation, national pride, and environmental consciousness while fostering social connection and community building.


In conclusion, Icelandic beer is a perfect embodiment of the fusion of tradition and innovation, nature and craftmanship. It represents Iceland’s passion for quality, uniqueness, and sustainability. It has evolved from a forbidden beverage to a beloved cultural icon, igniting a sense of pride and curiosity among locals and visitors alike.


So, the next time you find yourself in Iceland, be sure to immerse yourself in the world of Icelandic beer. Seek out the local breweries and explore their offerings, indulge in the flavors, and embrace the spirit of celebration and community that surrounds this remarkable beverage. Skál! Cheers to the fascinating journey of Icelandic beer!