And now, on to cheerier stuff. I wrote this last week but forgot to publish it. Also, note that this post might be boring if you don't care much about beer :)
Over the last couple of years, I have gradually gotten into good beer, often Belgian. Philly might not be the greatest city (sorry, Philly-lovers), but it is blessed with two Belgian food and beer places (Monk's and Eulogy). After trying some of the beers there I was hooked. Unfortunately, laws in Pennsylvania mean that buying beer by the bottle is quite difficult, so you end up having to buy it by the pack (6) or case (24) depending on the availability. And with those beers costing up to 5$ a bottle (sometimes more) at the store, getting a case would be too expensive. Plus it would take quite a while to go through.
Luckily, I had found a place in Maryland (only 45 minutes away from my former residence) that sold all kinds of good beers by the bottle, and I made several trips there and tried lots of good beers. It was great!
Coming to Iceland, things went downhill on the beer front. All the alcohol has to be bought from the state store (Vinbuð), including beer, so at the store downtown they seem to have about a dozen or so different kinds of beer, most of them being the typical pilsner kind (think Coors / Miller /Bud from the US, Viking / Thule / Egils from Iceland). So, few good options. Moreover, beer (as well as any alcohol) is expensive here, so buying it from the store ends up being about 3$ a bottle (for a basic beer).
However, the other day I stopped by the Vinbuð store in Kringlan, and walked around the aisles... Till I found.. Belgian beers! Now admittedly, it's not an amazing selection, but they had at least 10 different kinds of those. Plus a few interesting non-Belgian beers.
Also, the prices ranged from 200 to 350 kronur (3 to 5.5$) which is the same as I would pay in the US for those beers. Since drinks here seem to be (highly) taxed by alcohol content instead of by price, most beers end up within a narrow price range regardless of their original pre-tax price. This makes a good beer a better value in comparison to a standard one. So a Miller (MGD) would cost 3$ (compared to 1 or less in the US) while a blue Chimay costs 5.5$, about the same as the US.