We’ve seen some pretty weird things done with beer in the past – zombie beer brewed with smoked goat brains, garlic-flavored beer, and even a beer-based breakfast spread. But this Icelandic beer has got to be the most outrageous beverage we’ve ever come across. Believe it or not, it’s flavored with fin whale testicles smoked in sheep poop!
The special edition beer is a product of Icelandic microbrewery Steðji – they came up with the blend for the country’s mid-winter festival Thorrablot, which starts next week. Named Hvalur 2, the drink has an alcohol content of 5.2 percent. “We smoke the testicle by the old Icelandic way, with dried Sheep shit, and this method gives the beer a really unique smoke flavor,” said Steðji co-owner Dagbjartur Arilíusson. “At Thorrablot, we eat ram’s testicles, rotten shark, soured whale fat, etc, as we did in the old days. We think this product will suit the festival really well.”
Interestingly, Hvlaur 2 is actually the second whale-flavored beer from the brewery. Last year they teamed up with whale hunting firm Hvalur to make a beer out of whale meal, a byproduct of processing whale meat. That beer was temporarily banned by public health authorities. This year though, the brewery claims that they have all the necessary permits to sell Hvalur 2.
Photo: Steðji Brewery
The folks at Steðji claim that Hvalur 2 is healthy and perfect for ‘true Vikings’, because whale meat is low in fat. But the drink has not been well-received by animal rights activists and anti-whaling campaigners, who are already unhappy with Iceland’s practice of commercial whaling, despite an international ban. Fin whales, in particular, are classified as endangered on the conservation Red List.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) group condemned last year’s whale-flavored beer. “Reducing a beautiful sentient whale to an ingredient on the side of a beer bottle is about as immoral and outrageous as it is possible to get,” they said. “The brewery may claim that this is just a novelty product with a short shelf life, but what is the price of an endangered whale which might have lived to be 90 years.”
“This is a calculated move, not only to dishonor a beautiful and endangered creature by using its most intimate body parts as a marketing tool, but also sends a clear ‘two fingers’ to the conservation community and those who love and respect whales,” WDC campaigner Vanessa Williams-Grey said this year. “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 will treat this latest offering with the disdain it deserves,” she added.
But Arilíusson defended his brewery’s products, insisting that there was nothing unethical about the practice. “We live in a country that allows whaling and the whaling is very controlled by the Icelandic authorities, but fisheries here are self sustainable and very responsible,” he explained. “According to our research, the fin whale in North Atlantic is not at risk of extinction.”
Photo: Steðji Brewery
In fact, Arilíusson argued that the beer was in line with the nation’s heritage – owing to their climate, Icelandic people have always made food out of all possible ingredients. “We consider this ingredient to be in the style of Thorrablot,” he insisted. “We want to create a true Thorri atmosphere, and therefore we decided to use smoked testicles from fin whales for flavoring the beer.”