Skjálfti | Ölvisholt Brugghús

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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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Reviews: 48 | Ratings: 67
Photo of bylerteck
4.08/5  rDev +10.3%
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 StephenRich
4.38/5  rDev +18.4%
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 ecoastman
3.3/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I didn't expect to find this one under a California Common / Steam Beer lager category but then again why not? The brewers tell you more about Icelandic earthquakes than the beer and the intended style on the label.

Overall, a decent beer that has much more flavour than a typical Euro Lager - not even compareable really. But I'll probably only buy it again the next time I'm in Iceland.

The appearance is a hazy straw colour with a head that recedes leaving no lacing. Sweet malt and earthy-pine hops are balanced in the light aroma. But there's a medium-high level of bitterness that stands out which lingers too long in the aftertaste for my palate.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear light gold and decent head. Nose has an odd fruitiness to it, lychees and tropical fruit. Fairly bitter and sharply carbonated, again with a lychee flavour. Quite dry and a bit astringent with a herbal hop. Light toasted grain and caramel round out the flavours. A little bit on the acidic side as well. This one could use a bit more sweetness to balance the hops, but overall drinkability isn't bad.

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Photo of TerryW
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
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 biegaman
4.07/5  rDev +10%
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 MasterSki
3.72/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Birthday gift from cousin Dan. Best before January 20th, 2001. Served in a mug.

A - Pours with a half-finger of eggshell foam that sizzles to a partial cap. Body is a hazy peach color with tons of bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass.

S - Smell has some nice citrus hop character - ripe oranges mingle with a nice clean sugary malt character. There's a bit of lemon sourness and earthy spice too but they are in the periphery.

T - Taste is a little less interesting, with more spice and pepper flavors instead of the sweet juicy citrus of the nose. The malt character is also more bready. Not bad, but a bit of a letdown.

M - Carbonation is a little high, and the body is a touch grittier than I prefer. Body is medium and of sufficiently heft, and the finish is slightly dry.

D - Nice solid, session brew. I dig the idea of a hopped-up steam beer, and the nose on this one is quite enjoyable. If it tasted a bit more like it smelled I'd actually get this semi-regularly.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.93/5  rDev +6.2%
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 Sammy
2.88/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Yellow body with initially a foamy head. Wafts initially a cheesy aroma, then reverts to a neutral one. A little lagerish taste, a tad beow average mouthfeel. Drinkable, but not too drinkable, and 500 ml. is too much for me. Rather uninteresting overall.

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Photo of bobsy
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Its easy to try a beer from a different country, but its often hard to chalk up the ones that are any good. I've never been much of a ticker, so I usually pass by all the crappy lagers from exotic places, but I was excited to see the local government monopoly add this Icelandic effort to its latest release.

Skjálfti pours a radiant gold with an off-white head that laces like a dream and shows great retention. As a beer its off to a flyer, and the nose hints at the promise that this could be a fantastic lager. Its full of lemon, and crisp malty goodness, along with hints of grass and herbs.

The flavour is great, with a nice herbal lemon hop profile and a soft malty body.A light bitterness provides a crisp finsh to a mildly sweet sip. Nice and refreshing in the summer heat. Not overly-complex, but certainly an easy-drinking lager. The medium-light body and pillowy carbonation add to this impression.

A decent lager, and one that I could happily drink on the patio. Perhaps not enough complexity for many repeat visits, buta good 'lawnmower' beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.54/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: Poured a bright golden color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of clean cereal with light residual sugar notes. Taste is also dominated by floral cereal with a clean dry finish with some subtle residual sugar notes. There is also some light cooked vegetables which I could have done without. Body is quite full with slight oily texture with good carbonation. Not bad thought it doesn't really stand out and the light DMS touch is not that pleasant.

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Photo of Derek
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
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 kwjd
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a copper colour with a nice white head. Smells sweet like fruit candy almost. Taste has some hops with a strong malt backbone. Very bready type taste that has some type of fruit in there. Very smooth and a great drinker. Probably not going to buy a lot at the price in Ontario, but a very nice beer.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
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 MeisterBurger
3.91/5  rDev +5.7%
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 CanuckRover
4.16/5  rDev +12.4%
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 ludachris
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright and hazy amber hue with one finger of fluffy cream coloured head yeilding after an aggressive pour, displaying good retention and leaving sticky and thick legs of lace.

Fresh doughy bread, lemons, a bit of pine, and a fruity undertone I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe raisons? Whatever it is, the nose is quite inviting.

The bready malts play as more of a backbone in the taste with a long lemony/grapefruit snap being the most prominent thing going on, eventually leading to a pleasantly bitter herbal hop finish.

Mouthfeel is clean, cirsp, balanced, and dry at the end thanks to the hoppy finish. I'm drinking this on a warm spring (feels like summer) night, and it suits it perfectly. Flavourful and sooo refreshing.

I felt almost obligated to pick this one up because of the rarity or rather lack of availability of the style, and I'm very happy I did. On a hot summer's day, this beer would be on my top three to turn to. Worth a try for sure, and the perfect season to do it.

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I just saw this today at the LCBO, how nice to be the first reviewer from Toronto for a change. Big foamy off-white head, three fingers, low moderate carbonation, lots of sticky sheet lace. In due course, the head settled into a few large beige blotches floating atop a clear copper brew. There was a citrus fruit hoppy aroma on the pour and more sweet apricot and bready malt nose after it breathed; quite a pleasant smelling beer. The taste was more malty than hoppy with pine flavour and a resiny mouthfeel, earthy swallow, more pine and bitterness in the long lingering finish. Mouth is pine resiny, medium body, buttery texture. No hint of volcanic ash whatsoever. Overall, not bad at all and I'd gladly have another.

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Photo of pootz
4.09/5  rDev +10.5%
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 mfkr
2.38/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A - Golden orange liquid, with a small white head that leaves some lacing.

S - Lots of sweet malt and some hops.

T - Lots of malt, butter, hops, the taste felt a bit artificial.

M - Medium body and carbonation.

To sweet and buttery in my opinion.

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Photo of drpimento
3.89/5  rDev +5.1%
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 stulowitz
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
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 jdhilt
2.73/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a one finger white head that lasts leaving a good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Malty/hoppy nose. Flavor is almost balanced leaning to hoppy, slight bitter finish. 330ml bottle 249 ISK ~ $2.99 Vínbúõin Hvolsvelli, Iceland. The name means earthquake - very appropriate for the country. From my notes - 7/22/2008.

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Skjálfti from Ölvisholt Brugghús
3.7 out of 5 based on 67 ratings.
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