Latest ’whale beer’ in Iceland: what a load of b*lls!

In what feels increasingly like a warped version of the Hokeycokey (in… out…in...out), ‘whale beer’ will once again be on sale in Iceland from January 23rd – but with an obscene twist. This time it will be flavoured by smoked fin whale testicles. Yes, really.


Whale beer #1 – January 2014

Last January, we reported on the sale of ‘Whale Beer’, brainchild of the Steðja brewery in Iceland. The launch of the beer, which contained a small amount of whale meal, was timed to coincide with the Icelandic mid-winter festival of Þorrablót (Thorrablot) in honour of the Norse god, Thor, a reinvented 'tradition'. At the time, brewery owner, Dabjartur Arilíusson, declared: "This is a unique beer, brewed in collaboration with Hvalur hf.  Whale beer will include, among other things, whale meal.  Whale meal is very protein-rich and has almost no fat in it.  That, along with the fact that no sugar is added, makes this a very healthful drink and people will be true Vikings drinking it."

However, before it hit the shelves, the beer was banned by the Public Health Authority in Vesturland, where the Steðja brewery is located, as the whale meal – which contained amongst other things whale intestines - failed food hygiene regulations. Days later, the Fisheries Minister overturned the ban and ruled that the beer could indeed go on sale. It rapidly sold out – but there followed a final twist in October, when the original decision of the Vesturland Public Health Authority to ban it was upheld.

Whale beer #2 – January 2015

Undeterred, the Steðja brewery announced today that it is brewing a beer using smoked fin whale testicles which will be available later this month. Aptly named Hvalur 2, the beer is a blatant plug for the source of the whale testicles - once again, Kristjan Loftsson’s fin whaling company.

In an interview with Visir today, Dabjartur Arilíusson boasted “We want to create a true Þorri (Thorri) atmosphere and therefore, we decided to use smoked testicles from fin whales for flavouring the beer. The testicles are cured according to an old Icelandic tradition, lightly salted and then smoked. We put a lot of effort into this and it’s a long process” – adding that each brewing had contained one testicle.

The Þorri festival is of course known for offering dishes which include fermented shark and smoked ram’s testicles, so offering dung-smoked whale testicle beer is clearly playing to the 'Viking' theme.

Is it legal?

Despite being legal this time (it appears that the use of this whale ‘product’ has been authorised by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, MAST, and Visir reports that Helgi Helgason, Director of the Vesturland Public Health Authority, has confirmed that the brewery has been authorised to sell beer brewed with whale testicles), the move is certainly highly provocative and a cheap marketing ploy, but that is nothing new for Kristjan Loftsson.

There is more to this, however, than mere sensationalism – this is a calculated move, not only to dishonour a beautiful and endangered creature by using its most intimate of body parts as a marketing tool, but also sends a clear ‘two fingers’ to the conservation community and those who love and respect whales.

And again, there’s more to this than meets the eye – beyond the hype, the reality is a man who is clinging on stubbornly to a dying industry, constantly casting around for new ways to offload his goods. Yes, it is cynical, but it is also desperate. Loftsson is likely sponsoring this beer and it will be costing him a lot of money, at a time when he is experiencing increasing difficulty in offloading whale meat, even to Japan.

Right-minded people would no sooner drink beer brewed with whale testicles than they would order similar drinks made with tiger, elephant or rhino testicles and our hope, of course, is that visitors to Iceland - a truly beautiful country with lively, friendly people - will treat this latest offering with the disdain it deserves.

Truly scraping the bottom of the barrel.

 Please join us and support our campaign to end whaling in Iceland!

Comments on this product (please be polite!) may be sent to the relevant authority:

Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST)


As an Icelander I am more than willing to say that this is one disgusting product and also happens to be derived from an animal that unfortunately was hunted and killed in a very barbaric and inhumane fashion. Stick this beer where the sun doesn't shine.

good on you!

Nice! I desperately want to visit Iceland - been obsessed for years! - but every time I hear something like this I hesitate. Still, I am planning a trip in Jan or Feb next year. I just want to make sure I miss this festival. :)

Well said. Please spread the word among Icelanders. Thank you.

Appreciation for your beliefs and for expressing them here, Kristjan. Curious, what percentage of Icelanders do you think feel as you do?

I am confident that a strong majority feel as I do. Propaganda and faulty science will likely keep the remaining deniers lost in the fog.

Thanks for that link. I find one critical element in the debate to be how this question is asked. If asked "should Iceland be sanctioned , forced to stop whaling?" Then the outcome is different with support in the lead.
However , if asked "since no real economic benefit is derived from whaling and since this portrays a negative image and produces significant stalemate with neighboring allies , should we end this ?"

This is where the tide turns greatly in favor of ending whaling.

I don't have much to say about the political viewpoint. However , if Sovereign Nation is left out entirely and the economic and human values are the primary focus in the whaling debate , then we are well on our way to end this cruel madness.

Now I have to reply to my own comment since I forgot to enter my name in my reply :-)

You're right . There are a lot of good people in Iceland .

Thank you for sharing, makes my heart sing. :)

Agreed x

History will show we ended whaling just in the nick of time. Shame on you, Iceland!

They seem to be desperate to get whale into their diet, don't eat it drink it? Really?! Bloody weirdos, horrible people that buy this beer, I hope they choke on it!

So what is a limit and who will follow the terrible fate of whales? A thought which came to mind.
I ponder tomorrows thirst, yes wonder what may be the future taste of my kind...
An opening line, from a book of Painted Poems by me.

For all concerned, some improvement in Iceland:

(add www to >)

This product should be illegal.killing and hunting whale simply to make unhealty drink to human consumption is trully disgusting activity. Stop being greedy.

What happened to sanity in this world Iceland hang your head in shame this will rebound on your country and I for one will vote to veto your country from someone who lives in an evironment that is lucky to have the privilege of having whales and sharks in their waters without exploiting them. You are living in the past. If you are not careful it will be you who are the endangered species.

What a disgusting episode in our life - you have to be KIDDING Iceland.

Is there a campaign link via which we can protest to the brewery or Icelandic authorities?

David, there is now a link, at the end of the blog above, to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) who have some authority of whether whale products can be used in human products.

And I will emphasize what Vanessa said. Speak your mind , for sure. But , be polite. Drivel and vitriolic comments are hard to take seriously.