Skjálfti | Ölvisholt Brugghús

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69 Ratings

Brewed by:
Ölvisholt Brugghús

Style: California Common / Steam Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jdhilt on 07-27-2008

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Ratings: 69 |  Reviews: 48
Photo of OscarMaad
4.75/5  rDev +28%

Perfect in most ways. A complex yet easy to drink.
Can't wait to try it again. and again.

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Photo of irc
4.65/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A top notch bottled wheat. Sharp citrus with a nice head on the pour. Clean finish. The light amber colour was surprising. I thought it a most delicious pint and would partake of it's wheatie-citrus-ness again. And again. And again. And again. But probably not again after that.

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Photo of StephenRich
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An earthquake hits on Ontario as a volcano erupts in Iceland. Well, thats only partly true. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano has of course been erupting and Iceland, disrupting flights all across the worls, but Ontario has not been hit by an earthquake - hitting shelves at LCBO's all across Ontario is Ölvisholt Brugghus Skjalfti (Skjalfti is Icelandic for Earthquake).

It is a bit of a miracle that the Skjalfti has made it to Ontario. It is brewed by Iceland's number 1 craft brewery in terms of sales and exports; a company that is only 2 years old. But, from 1915 to 1989 beer was banned in Iceland! Ölvisholt Brugghus has defied all the odds by brining unique and flavorful craft beers to the Icelandic beer market which was previously dominated by the bland light lagers which plague much of the world. So well done Ölvisholt Brugghus! It is always a pleasure to see people around the world celebrating the real flavors that craft brewed beer has to offer.

Luckily for us now, the Ölvisholt Brugghus Skjalfti becomes the very first Icelandic beer to ever be sold in Ontario. It is available in 500ml bottles at 5% abv. It has been brewed with a 3 varieties of hops, 5 barley malts, and malted wheat giving it a surprisingly unique and complex flavor profile.

For 74 years beer remained an illegal beverage in Iceland, but now each year on March the 1st Iceland celebrates Beer Day - I think we should be doing the same. Helping ring in this holiday are beers like Skjalfti, a Premium Lager with huge complex flavors and massive quenching capabilities. It did really take me by surprise.

I opened the Skjalfti cold around 5C (40F) as is appropriate for a refreshing lager of this sort. Right from the get-go this beer impressed me. The pour was luscious and smooth building a golden and amber orange beer with lots of life, excitement and depth. The beer was transparent showing rich colors and glowing gold in the light. A softly dense and perfumey head built about two inches gently above the beer in a pillow of off-white delight.

Right away this is why I was surprised and impressed. I have had so many bland pale beers which claim to be a Premium Lager - the Skjalfti really proved to be crafted with passion and heart. It showed real golden copper colors and rich character erupting from the beer.

In I went for a nose, but not to much is there. Really though by definition a Premium Lager is not going to burst with aroma. But soft pale malts and earthy herbal hops played lightly in the air brining with them touches of apple, citrus, light caramel and biscuit.

Here came the real treat - the Skjalfti lets in a big wave of refreshing but creamy pale malts, wide and crisply bitter hops with delicate ripe fruit and floral flavors. The malts show great complexity and full body roundness with soft caramel, toffee, and hints of pepper. Hops play a balancing role here with fresh earth and light pine urging in great crisp bitter flavors and a supremely satisfying zest.

As the beer warms a touch it looses none of its quenching power but gains all of its flavor. Bread and biscuits begin to emerge along with a warmer caramel and big and juicy hops which once again balance the scale evenly. The overall production here is perfect - complex, malty and lightly sweet, with great big bitter hops that wrap around your palate with ease.

The mouthfeel was also perfect aiding the beer's overall impression. It was smooth and lively showing precise carbonation without being aggressive or effervescent. It provided a medium soft body with dept and sophistication.

The finish was on the mark - quenching and crisp without snapping or biting you. It was lightly dry but long with sweet malts fading into your palate. A perfect match for the summer heat. This beer would be so perfect with so many dishes. Almost anything fish, weather it is strong or light will work perfectly with the pale malts and delicate floral flavors of the beer. Pasta, red meat, BBQ, pub fair, Indian, Thai, and on and on. Really because it is 5%, full bodied, perfectly balanced and amazingly refreshing, if will be genuinely delicious with about anything except deserts. Even at that, I bet its nice with cheesecake. I had it with sushi, and it was the perfect compliment and quencher.

Really I am very happy to have enjoyed this beer, and am happy that the Skjalfti will be available at the LCBO. It can be hard these days to find a good full flavored lager - the Ölvisholt Brugghus Skjalfti is a Premium Lager which honorably reflrects the style, and has provided me with the perfect solution!

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Photo of CanuckRover
4.16/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks wonderful. Big, thick, dense, eggshell head fills up the top quarter of my pint glass. Lacings are nice and big all the way to the bottom. A very light amber with plenty of tiny bubbles floating to the top. 5 for appearance, looks great.

Yum. Nice caramel-y bread on the nose with just a subtle note of light fruit, peach maybe. A whiff of pint hints at the hops to come.

First impression is of a really well made, quality lager. Nice, refreshing, American hops right up front. A touch of sweet grapefruit followed by some piney bitterness that holds on to the tongue through to the aftertaste. Good rounded malts in the middle. Nice soft bread with just the slightest caramel sweetness. Pine and bread come together in the finish to give herbal mustardy type flavour. Nice long finish with plenty of hop resins.

Great mouthfeel. Not too much carbonation, really lets the flavours come out.

High marks for this one. Will it knocn you off your feet? Nope. But I can't come up with any drawbacks, and it fits the style to a 't'.

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Photo of pootz
4.09/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


pours a deep gold-amber lager in the flute, copious 3 finger frothy off white cap lasts and laces up the glass. Wonderfully unique aroma...great clean lager malts;bready, biscuity a touch of caraMunich over essentially Ale hopping: Cascade citrus, pine and grass.

Nice round mouth feel...Big malts in the front balanced well with citrus and pine resinous hopping...stays balanced into the finish which is clean, lightly bitter and lightly dry.

A very satisfying but quenching lager with the unique character of ale hopped balance. Great innovation, I want more of this.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.08/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Fizzy white head seems to be going fast but the middle is nice and pillowy so I'm hoping for some good lacing. Tons of carbonation on a hazy orange body. Head has calmed down now and is champing through midway with a nice one finger cap of thick, rocky, gorgeousness.

S - Could smell tons of fresh hops when I poured this. Grapefruit, orange. Nice citrus all over, a nice change for a lager. Slight grain.

T - Nice mild citrus hops. Really minute bitter finish appropriate for what this is. Crisp and refreshing at the same time.

M - Carbonation is less fierce than it looks. Keeps it dancing on the tongue with it's light-medium body.

D - High. A good refreshing lager with a nice hop kick.

Another well crafted beer from these guys.

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Photo of biegaman
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Iceland may be known for its snow and eruptive volcanoes but this beer has little of the white stuff and a carbonation that could hardly be described as explosive. Its burnished golden colour, oddly enough, approximates a tropic sunset; it's somewhat unrepresentative of a country that sees only a few hours of daylight for half the year!

But hey, it looks good and, besides, the aroma is even more atypical. It has a significant sulfur-y component and an impressively confident bouquet that is ripe with hoppiness. Flower petals, earthy herbs and dried citrus shavings make for a lager as appetizing as it is unique while biscuity malts and heavy doses of lemon and grass add the finishing touch.

Such substantial hopping in lagers is still fairly rare - surprising considering just how delicious and distinctive the result is. I'm not saying I prefer the taste of hops to malts - both are flavourful in their own rights - but I do find the hop flavours can, in many ways, be better appreciated when showcased in lagers which can provide such a clean, neutral backdrop.

To be more specific, those hoppy flavours include foremost a dry and earthy grassiness as well as a bright, citric lemony attribute (both of which could not possibly be any tastier). Lesser, and more abstract, notes of pine and flower petals are also noted although they rank about on par with the tastes of toffee biscuits and honey smeared on toast.

It's befitting that the beer was brewed right over top of where the American and European continents come together - it has the refinement and quaffability of a traditional European lager but also the brawny bitterness and in-your-face hopping done the American style.

While I may not be able to pronounce its name, I can say for certain that Skjálfti is good beer and Ölvisholt Brugghús, seemingly, is a gem of a little brewery. The name of the beer translates to 'earthquake', ironic considering it brings the two continents' styles together rather than dichotomize them. I understand that Icelanders have a reputation for drinking a lot - but with offerings like this who can blame them?

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look (3.5/5) ~ Pours a deep gold, which is a bit light for the style. Clarity is fairly good, but not ‘brilliant.’ Head is good: cream coloured; raises well of an average pour; falls at a normal pace with no real lacing; and comes to a cap that lasts quite a while.

Smell (3.5/5) ~ A decent malt-hop balance. Hops have a good helping of pine and a bit of floral to them. The malt is caramel-like and nutty. Fairly crisp finish. I think that the aroma hops are not present enough for the style, although the smell is nice and balanced.

Taste (4.5/5) ~ A great balance of malt and hop bitterness. The malt is bread-crust and caramel, with a hint of melanoidin fruitiness (almost grape-like). The hops are of the same character on the palate as on the nose with a bit more of an herbal note, though I would characterize the hop flavor as medium-low. Hop bitterness is assertive and sets of the malt extremely well: the finish fades into a nice mix of lighter malt notes and hop bitterness. Finish is average-dry.

Feel (3.5/5) ~ Medium body and medium-low carbonation. There is a bit of an oily, mouth-coating feel from the hop oils, which compliments the long finish nicely by giving you something to chew on.

Generally, I’m not that big of a fan of brews where the hop bitterness outweighs the hop flavour (but that’s a personal preference and I’ll have to dial it in with a few more steam beers to see what’s good for the style) Anyway, I found that the style was really well balanced and delicious. A good one!

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Photo of thehyperduck
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; no date given. This is the first time I've ever had a steam beer - and while I'm glad to tick off another style, it also means that anyone who bothers to read this review should probably take it with a larger grain of salt than usual.

Pours a lovely golden-amber colour, completely translucent and highly effervescent. Topped with slightly more than one finger of puffy, white head that lasts a few minutes before dissipating into a thin, creamy cap. Enjoyable aroma of biscuity malts, caramel and some floral citrus notes - good, but kind of weak in intensity.

The flavour is pleasant, and well-balanced. The bready, biscuity malt and slight honey sweetness work well together with the floral, vaguely herbal elements of the hops. There are also hints of orangepeel and appleskin, so the overall profile has a nice fruity character to it. Dry, citrusy finish with lingering bitterness. Light-bodied, with good, crisp carbonation that is neither too powerful nor too weak. Easy to drink like your typical lager/pale ale, and the balanced flavours would make this a pretty good session option.

Final Grade: 4.00, an A-. This is the second Icelandic beer I've had - both from this brewery - and I've been quite impressed with each of them. I've been meaning to try a steam beer for a while now, and although Skjalfti doesn't exactly have the brand recognition of Anchor Steam, I still think this made an excellent introduction to the style. It's a little pricy to be a realistic session option in these parts, but easily worth a try, and I will probably pick it up again some time.

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Photo of 31Sam13
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Niklas
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of Marvicsin
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of EliotTruelove
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of VelvetExtract
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brillaint copper with a nice tall head that recedes quickly and leaves decent lacing. Very clear.
The aroma is dominated by light citrus and spicy and hops over subtle malt sweetness.
The flavour is lightly roasty with medium malt sweetness and a refreshing bitter finish. Flavourful and drinkable lager not unlike Anchor Steam.

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Photo of Derek
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Golden-yellow with a fluffy white head, good retention & lacing.

S: Floral with hints of grass & marmalade, fresh baked bread, pleasant subtle hints of yeasty sulfurs.

T: Floral, citrus rind, grass, bready, slight sulfury character from the yeast, hinting at diacetyl close the the flavour threshold (in a good way). Moderate bitterness. Nice.

M: Smooth, moderate body with an off-dry finish.

D: A great drinker.

Reminds me of Brooklyn lager, though I think I like this one better!

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Icelanders have only been allowed to brew beer for 20 years (Mar. 1, 1989), but apparently they've picked up a few things along the way. This beer completely allayed my fears about an Icelandic import brew, and I'll definitely be back for more.

Poured into a nonic. A copper-golden hue, about a 1/2 inch of head. Decent retention: a substantial ring survives, as does some patches of lacing.

Nose is terrific. Apple, hops, resin, lemon, caramel.

Taste isn't far off. A bready, malty character pairs well with juicy, herbal hops. Citrus, caramel and a good piney, earthy character make for a highly drinkable brew.

Slightly watery, but with a decent level of pucker from the juicy hops, it's really hitting the spot on a warm evening such as this. Medium, biting carbonation.

Well done Iceland! A great example of the style, very drinkable and refreshing. Sleeper hit for the summer.

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Photo of stulowitz
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear golden. Thick with head that holds.

Sm - Citrusy and spicy hop aroma. Very appealing.

T - nice toasty caramel with big hop taste. Little buttery. Ends in a nice tasty bitterness.

M - full bodied good carbonation

D - This is a very drinkable product. Interesting enough to keep going back to and pairs superbly well with varyous dishes. Both the aroma and taste of this beer has changed alot since it was first launched back in march 2008...towards hops, hell yeah!

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Photo of mrnobody
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a clear amber with one finger of soapy white head that disappears immediately.

S: Smells of European hops; a clean pilsener-like aroma.

T: At first, I thought again of a pilsener but this has more heft as well as a bit of robust smokiness. I can certainly see the style similarity to something like Anchor Steam and this compares favourably.

M: Medium mouthfeel with suitable carbonation.

D: The drinkability is very good. I could see enjoying this a lot in the summer.

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Photo of TerryW
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice solid effort out of Iceland. Pours a short head that settles to a creamy looking heavy film. Surrenders some very nice curtainy lace all the way down the glass. Clear medium amber in colour, very active in the glass with lots of small bubbles rising to the top.

Fresh fruity hop aroma with a hint of grass and pine. Very appetizing nose. Nice gentle hop bitterness up front, with a sweet malt backbone that comes around to a lingering bitter finish. Very tasty, very nicely balanced, nothing to overwhelm.

A nice drinking beer worth trying.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.93/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle, an unheralded addition to the LCBO's summer release.

Pours a crystal clear golden hue, a few shades darker than your average pale lager that glints a coppery almost pink. Two to three fingers of pillowy head build and then slowly recede to leave a nice covering and spots of lace.

Nose is all lemon and grass, a hint of other citrus fruits and a floral touch as well. Light biscuity malt backing. Smells fresh.

Floral arrangements, fresh cut grass, lemon zest, a slight hint of minerals, biscuity malt, honeysuckle sweetness, dry finish - all marks of a pretty darn good lager. Slightly heavy on the carb (only slightly) but it aids the quick disappearance from my glass.

An excellent summer quaff, it's only too bad that the price doesn't correspond. Still, a quality offering and I would gladly try whatever else makes its way here from the far-off land of ice.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very clear, golden orange topped by a mousse-like, frothy head that laces splendidly. We're off to a good start here.

The aroma is soft pears and mild candied fruit with ample toffee notes and potpourri. We're two for two so far.

The taste is a great balance of toasted, bready malt, somewhat caremelly, pit against a minty piney bitterness. Very full flavoured, very fresh with a nice lush green grassiness herbal bitterness to it. Nice.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied, very crisp and satisfying.

This beer smacks of quality and has a very unique personality all its own. I dig it.

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Photo of bryehn
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, yellow-tinged amber colour with a thick head that leaves a fair amount of lace before settling as a thin layer.

It smells just wonderful to me. Freshwater and deep, bready malts with a real hoppy spiciness in its backing and a candied sweetness that comes through as it warms.

The taste is like toasted malt, but it also has a real fruitiness to it, as well as a light, lemon zest citrus accent. There's also a decent hoppy spiciness here, it's a very intriguing beer for certain.

The mouthfeel may keep me from having more than one at a time because I find it heavy on the tongue. There is a real bread-like quality to the finish, but there is a decent prickly carbonation at least.

Pleasant and unique (to me at least) offering that I'll have to try again.

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Photo of drpimento
3.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a bottle of this in Stockholm last weekend. Poured with a white light head and lace. Color was slightly hazy medium amber. Aroma was nice with a slightly smokey & very slight citrus and apricot characteristics. Flavor's the same. Nice body. Excellent finish. A session beer.

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Photo of Danielr26
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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Skjálfti from Ölvisholt Brugghús
Beer rating: 3.71 out of 5 with 69 ratings