One night in January this year, Sarah and I decided to join the Taste the Saga beer tour at Ölgerðin brewery in the name of research. She wanted to include it in a piece she was preparing and I decided to tag along just to see what it was all about. I had also been made exile from my home because the husband was hosting his annual lamb chop party where no women are allowed. The lamb chop party is basically an evening where a group of almost middle-aged men pretend they can still drink like they did in their twenties while they eat a gargantuan amount of lamb chops.
It was an unlikely pair that waited for a bus at an undisclosed guesthouse close to my home this dark Friday night: A young vibrant citizen of the world vs. the overworked semi-suburban housewife. The housewife was me, by the way, except I don’t really cook and only do chores when I absolutely have to. I also don’t live in the suburbs but you get the picture.
Because of our age difference and my maternal/mentor-like feelings toward her (seriously, the family and I wanted to adopt her – come back Sarah!) I thought we’d just have a civilized evening filled with polite laughter and condescending feelings on my part over the silliness of today’s youth.
Instead, we ended up having blast. And we got really really drunk. Or maybe that was just me.
To my defense though, in this day and age, I only have to smell alcohol to get drunk. This is what 6 years of minimal sleep and a lot of stress will do to you. And old age, probably.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the Taste the Saga tour. We got picked up and driven to the Ölgerðin brewery which is the oldest brewery in Iceland that is still in operation and the birthplace of the popular lager Gull which has been mispronounced by tourists of all nationalities for decades. Or you know, almost three decades because we were not allowed to drink beer until 1989 and all. It’s also the home of Borg “micro” brewery, a favorite of many a beer aficionado here in Reykjavík that is constantly coming up with new delicious brews. The tour is basically a fun non-stuffy lecture about the history, or saga (hence the name), of beer in Iceland with a generous helping of samples in Ölgerðin’s beer school. Our group consisted of about 20 or so people that were of all ages and from all over. Our lecturer was fun and knowledgeable and I can say without any uncertainty that no one was bored.
There was a lot of beer on offer, including a few of the Borg beers which are more to my taste, and because this is Iceland everyone also got a shot of Brennivín. Some more than one. Not me though – I know you were thinking it! The beer samples were more generous than I had thought, actually, which was the likely culprit of my sudden inebriation.
After the history lesson, we took a stroll around the brewery and got to taste some more beer straight from the cow. At that point, everyone was already a bit tipsy and the group had even developed its own insider humor that kept everyone giggling. It was just a genuinely good time.
After a very enjoyable time at Ölgerðin, the whole group was driven downtown where we could get dropped off at Laugavegur, the main drag in downtown Reykjavík, or back at the hotels. In the bus, a group of us decided that it was too early to call it a night so we all went to a bar together were we sat well into the night sampling some more local beers. All in the name of research, of course.
If you’re looking for a fun activity to do, alone or with some friends, I would recommend the Taste the Saga tour. I would also recommend that you try to be open and social and who knows – you might make some new friends. Just make sure you pace yourself so you remember their names.
Unfortunately, as of July 1st 2018, the Taste the Sagas beer tour is not longer on offer.