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Photo for: KHB Brewery & Distillery: Gold and Silver Winners at the London Beer Competition

Insights

KHB Brewery & Distillery: Gold and Silver Winners at the London Beer Competition

Helgi Sigurðsson of Iceland's KHB Brewery & Distillery shares insights on their award-winning journey, the inspiration behind their craft, and future aspirations in the global beer and spirits market.

At the 2024 London Beer Competition (LBC) the Icelandic brewery and distillery, KHB Brugghús won gold for Naddi (in the International Lager category) and silver for Jola-Naddi, in the same category.

An interview with Helgi Sigurðsson, from KHB, was arranged for feedback following the success of their beers at the 2024 competition and this is his feedback.

Please provide an introduction to your company.

“We're [husband and wife team] Helgi Sigurdsson and Audur Vala Gunnarsdóttir, the dreamers behind KHB Brewery and Distillery, nestled snugly in the heart of Borgarfjordur Eystri, Iceland.

“Our journey began in 2020, a tale spun from a shared love of craftsmanship and a thirst for something truly unique. It was then that we embarked on a journey that would lead us to the heart of tradition, and the cutting edge of modernity.

“Picture this: a quaint village, its streets winding around one of the oldest houses in the area, a relic of 1897. Within those weathered walls, we found our home, our sanctuary for brewing and distilling magic. Here, amidst the whispers of history, we set out to create something truly special.”

Image: Helgi Sigurdsson and Audur Vala Gunnarsdóttir

What was it that prompted you to start brewing and distilling?

“Our venture into distilling began with a chance encounter at a trade show in London. That's where we met the folks behind iStill, pioneers in distilling technology. Inspired by their vision, we dove headfirst into crafting Landi, the original Icelandic Moonshine. 

“Guided by Audur's sister, Esther Kjartansdóttir, a master distiller trained at the esteemed iStill University, we perfected the art of capturing the rugged spirit of our homeland in every drop.

“But why stop there? In 2021, we unveiled KHB Gin, a tantalizing blend of tradition and innovation. With eight hand-selected spices dancing alongside the vibrant notes of our homegrown lemongrass, each sip is a journey through the Icelandic landscape, a tribute to our roots.

“And then there's beer — the golden nectar that brings people together. Our journey led us to the beer mecca of Plzen, where we crossed paths with Josef Krýsl, a brewing maestro with a legacy at Pilsner Urquell. Under his watchful eye, our master brewer, Þorsteinn Brandsson, honed his craft, learning the secrets of brewing that have been passed down through generations.”

What was your awareness of the competition before entering and what motivated you to enter? 

“I was looking for some competitions to enter for our products as I wanted to get a comparison with other brands. I knew we were doing some good stuff but wanted the international recognition that we could show to to buyers and distributors.

“So we found [details about] your competition online and liked what we saw.”.

What has been the impact on the company as a result of winning the awards?

“First we entered our KHB GIN in 2022. We received a silver medal and instantly the sales number grew here in Iceland. 

“Here the gin market, like everywhere, is big and lots of brands, and especially in a small market like Iceland, where the big distributors have the monopoly on the bars and restaurants, this was very important for us to showcase our gin. 

“We then entered again with the hin in 2023 and also our moonshine, Landi. The gin received another silver medal and the Landi got bronze.

Image: Winners of 2024 London Beer Competition.

“Then our beers were sent this year and we have got a lot of attention as we received one gold and 3 silvers. As every beer is linked to a folk story and by scanning the barcode, you will go to our website where you can listen to the story in English — so, there is like a short play about every beer.” 

How have you communicated the awards to your customers?

“We have sent out a notice to all buyers in our region and also got a piece in the local newspaper. We have our awards on our printed materials, menus, and so on.”

Comparisons to other competitions

“This is our only competition.”

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Which markets would you like to increase awareness and distribution?

“Our focus is mainly on the domestic market and we are trying to get the attention of restaurants and bars.”

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Beer Competition. Enter your beer before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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