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Iceland Brewery Makes Beer with Whale Meat

If geography was any indication of beer geekdom, then the people of Iceland will soon be able to drink a beer made with whale meat.

Steojar Brewery has partnered with Hvalur, a whaling company, to brew a 5.2 percent whale meat lager that hearkens back to their Viking brethren. Brewery owner Dagbjartur Ariliusson said the beer is made with, among other things, whale meat. The beer is meant to coincide with their annual mid-winter festival honoring the Norse god, Thor.

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Ariliusson defends the beer as traditional and explained that it's being made only for the annual festival. The brewery also said the beer is very healthy, being high in protein, low in fat, made with no added sugar and that people who drink it will become "true Vikings."

But the Ariliusson's got whaling conservationists pissed off. Vanessa Williams-Grey, head of the whaling campaign for Whale and Dolphin Conservation, is particularly appalled as this comes at a time when demand for the meat is finally declining.

"...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. The brewery may claim that this is just a novelty product with a short shelf life, but what price the life of an endangered whale which might have lived to be 90 years?" Williams-Grey said in a statement.

The WDC's been onto Hvalur for years, once helping to expose the use of endangered fin whales in dog food and how the company used fuel made from dead fin whales to power its own hunting vessels.

Whale hunting is a tradition in Iceland dating back as early as the 12th century. Iceland, as well as other countries such as Japan, participates in whale hunting under an objection to the moratorium on commercial whale hunting set by the International Whaling Commission.

Residents of the Faroe Islands, a island belonging to Denmark located north of Scotland, kill about 950 long-finned pilot whales annually in a community-wide hunting tradition called grindadráp, where islanders gather to kill whales by the pod for non-commercial purposes and divide the meat among the community.

Even worse for beer collectors, the beer won't be exported, Ariliusson says, which will make it difficult to obtain beyond Iceland's borders. It will be available in Iceland only, between January 4 and February 22.

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David Minsky is U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky

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