‘Whale Beer’ Sold In Iceland Sparks Controversy, Brew Called ‘Immoral’ For Containing Endangered Animal’s Meat

 @ZoeMintzz.mintz@ibtimes.com
on January 08 2014 2:09 PM
fin whale
An Icelandic brewery's "whale beer" has stirred controversy after it announced it will sell the unique brew at the country's midwinter festival later this month. Wikimedia Commons

An Icelandic beer company is making waves – and not necessarily the good kind -- after announcing a beer that contains whale meat.

The Icelandic brewery, Steðji, partnered with the whaling company Hvalur to create a beer that they say is healthy from the protein found in whale meat. The 5.2 percent beer will be sold in Iceland only between Jan. 24 to Feb. 22 and is not being made for export, the Guardian reports.

"This is a unique beer, brewed in collaboration with Hvalur hf. Whale beer will include, among other things, whale meal,” Brewery owner, Dabjartur Arilíusson, said. "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."

While the company admits that its ingredient is unusual, it maintains that Icelanders will try the brew.

"Doubtless some people won’t like it, there is a certain risk and we are aware of that ….. we hope Icelanders will like it as we're naturally addressing it to Thorrablot, when people eat and drink various things which they normally wouldn't,” he said, referring to the country’s midwinter food festival, where the beer will be sold.

Conservationists criticize the whale beer, saying the company is on a “desperate hunt” to find new ways to sell the animal’s meat despite the fact that demand for whale meat is in decline.  

“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?” Icelandic whaling campaign leader Vanessa Williams-Grey said, calling the beer “immoral.”

Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a UK environmental group, says whale meat has been used in unusual ways previously. Last year the organization says it helped expose the use of endangered fin whales in dog food and says the whaling company uses fin whale oil to power its vessels.

Last June, Iceland participated in a controversial commercial whale hunt after a two-year break. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission imposed a global moratorium on whale hunting, citing the sharp decline of the whale population. Only Norway and Iceland have resumed commercial whaling in defiance of the agreement, news.com.au reports.

"Whaling is brutal and belongs to a bygone era, not the 21st century," John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK, said in June. "It is deeply regrettable that a single Icelandic whaler backed by the government is undermining the global ban on commercial whaling, which is there to secure the future of the world's whales."

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