Icelandic Whale Testicle Beer Sparks Debate

Moby and Ahab

Beer has been brewed with everything from beef heart to Ibérico jamon, but Icelandic brewery Stedji latest release takes the cake. Or the whale. Their Hvalur 2 release is made with, “pure Icelandic water, malted barley, hops and sheep shit-smoked whale balls.”

The Guardian reports that the exotic/repulsive beer has sparked controversy with whale conservationists, who accuse Stedji of catering to the Icelandic whaling industry’s interests. Stedji brewer Dagbjartur Ariliusson defends the brew, as well as Icelandic fisheries, asserting, “We live in a country that allows whaling and the whaling is very well controlled by the Icelandic authorities, but fisheries here are self sustainable and very responsible.” The opposition, however, criticizes the brewery for grossly disrespecting an endangered species and those who are trying to protect it. Vanessa-Williams-Gray for Whale and Dolphin Conservation likens consuming Hvalur to drinking a concoction make with rhino or tiger testicles.

Hvalur 2 was brewed specifically for the Þorri Feast, an Icelandic tradition celebrating the Thundergod Þor wherein viking style grub like “Pressed sheep testicles, whale blubber, seal’s flippers, sheep’s head jam, smoked lamb and singed sheep’s head” is served. For last year’s feast, Stedji produced Hvalur 1 using whale meal, which was promptly banned by Iceland’s Ministry of Industries and Innovation due to the fact that “whale hunting company Hvalur hf. did not have authority to sell whale meal to Stedji.”

Certainly Hvalur’s shock value has elicited responses raging from fascination to repulsion, forcing a country to consider whether long-held traditions should be abandoned if they don’t agree with modern ethical and environmental responsibilities. [The Guardian] [Image: Flickr/jmpznz]