Iceland doesn't treat cetaceans the way most of the world wants them to be treated. Like Japan and Norway, Iceland has continued to hunt fin and minke whales in defiance of an international moratorium on the practice. It's not a challenge to find a restaurant serving whale meat in the capital city of Reykjavík. With all this in mind, is it really surprising that Iceland's whaling business has recently teamed up with a brewery to produce "whale beer"?
Hvalur, the company managed by "the Icelandic Ahab" Kristján Loftsson, is providing whale meal—a byproduct of processing the animal's meat and oil—to Steðja Brewery to create a limited edition product tied to Iceland's annual mid-winter festival Thorrablot. The beer, marketed as a drink for "true vikings," will only be available from January 24 through February 22. It's 5.2 percent alcohol and is supposedly "healthy" by virtue of containing whale, which is, according to the brewery, high in protein and low in fat.
Dagbjartur Ariliusson, the brewery's owner, told reporters that whale beer makes sense in the context of Thorrablot and the country's history. For many centuries, he said, they have celebrated this festival by eating "cured food, including whale fat, and now we have the beer to drink with this food." Pickled whale blubber is a traditional Thorrablot menu item.