Iceland condemned over ‘whale beer’

Beer02A new beer in Iceland which its makers say contains dead whale has been criticised by conservationists.

Icelandic brewery Steðji and whaling company Hvalur had joined forces to launch the beverage, which they claimed contains whale meat. The beer, which was meant to go on sale just before the country’s midwinter festival, was being marketed as healthy because whale meat contains a lot of protein and very little fat, while the beverage had no added sugar.

Steðji’s website stated that those who would drink the beer would become “true Vikings”. The brewery was  heavily criticised by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), an environmentalist group that earlier protested the alleged use of fin whale meat in dog food.

The group’s whaling campaign leader in Iceland, Vanessa Williams-Grey, said there is now less demand for whale meat, and fewer people are consuming it. Despite the progress, she described making whale an ingredient in a beer as about as “outrageous and immoral” as it can get.

Williams-Grey went on to say that the brewery may say it’s only a novelty product with limited shelf life, but pointed out that the endangered whale used to make it could have lived to be 90 years old.

Steðji owner Dagbjartur Árilíusson had announced that the beer would go on sale between  24 January and 22 February. However, the idea turned out to be against the law. “[whaling company] Hvalur does not have a licence to produce bone meal for food service purposes,” Helgi Helgason, the managing director of the West Iceland Health Supervisory Authority, told reporters. “As a result, we had to put a stop to it.”

Dagbjartur declared that he had no intention to fight the health supervisory’s decision.