Shortly after Kex opened in Reykjavík in 2011, owners Ólafur Ágústsson and Kristinn Vilbergsson began contracting with local breweries to create their own range of beverages, and soon branched out to collaborate with other brewers across Europe.
At the zinc-topped bar inside ground-floor restaurant Dóttir, you'll find house cocktails, aquavits, a wine list, and a wide-ranging list of craft beers, including several from the hotel's own brand. For its Portland outpost, Kex is working with Carston Haney at Ross Island Brewing, and the range starts with a couple of its Icelandic counterparts. Kølski is the house take on Kölsch, a refreshing, albeit unchallenging, light blond ale. Steroids to Heaven, originally born from a partnership with Denmark's To Øl, will appeal to those looking for a juicy IPA with a touch of earthy English ale character.
For aficionados of fruited sour beers, the rotating Forbidden Fruit series has already graced the taps with a tangerine and sea salt variant. The sours have their own Icelandic twist: The bacterial cultures used for souring come from skyr, a thick Icelandic yogurt that also makes a great dip for the house's french fries.
Depending on when you visit, you might also find a couple of collaborative beers on tap, like tart Gretta Sour IPA, brewed with Mikkeller, or Viking Juice Pale Ale, a rather bitter ale made with Gigantic Brewing. If it's on, the Coffee + Cream Porter, while not particularly high in alcohol, has a fine roast coffee character and a malty, creamy touch, making for a pleasing post-dinner drink.
Want something with more oomph? Go for an aquavit. The tasting flight includes Danish Aalborg, Norwegian Linie, and Iceland's own Brennivin, with its distinctive caraway snap, which is also a base for the Duchess, blended with white vermouth and fino sherry. And if you're looking for a little wintertime warmth, steer toward the jólaglögg, wine mulled Icelandic style.
DRINK: Dóttir, 100 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-346-2996, kexhotels.com/eat-drink/dottir. 7 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 7 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.