Do Or Don't: Drinking Icelandic Dead Whale Beer

What happens when a brewery and whaling company team up? Exactly what you think: whale beer. Now, I've consumed some extraordinarily weird things: camel brains, human placenta, KFC, but I don't see myself bringing this brewsky to one of Katz's bottle shares because I don't want to have the following conversation: would you drink beer brewed with bits of whale?

Steðji, one of Iceland's best-known breweries, created a beer in conjunction with Hvalur, a whaling company that sells meat, oil and other products under an allegedly complicated-to-enforce international permit. The beer will only be sold in Iceland, and was brewed specially for a traditional midwinter festival. But while people — mainly tourists, FYI — demand whale meat for the novelty of simply being able to eat it, whaling will still remain a profitable industry. Yes, it's barbaric. No, the meat's not even that awesome. But how about the beer?

Now it's not brewed INSIDE a whale or infused with whale bacon; the label's not printed using whale tears and, to be fair, Icelandic people have been consuming whale products as responsibly as survival in that region of the world allows, for hundreds of years. The ingredient in question is whale meal, the solid meat-bone-"other" by-product of extracting the valuable oil and meat. It is by no means the primary reason for hunting whales, but rather a way to use every part of the animal, and Steðji's beer is not made FROM it, it's made WITH it. Likely in an amount we'd call a "sprinkle." Possibly a "dash." Plus, it's allegedly pretty nutritious, as only folks who had been consuming it for generations could attest.

The backlash, naturally, has been swift and furious. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Group is not happy with the product or the marketing suggesting that "true Vikings" drink whale beer. But with whaling, once an important industry, on a steady and consistent decline with the advent of products that don't require taking down a majestic sea-beast, Steðji's been pretty unapologetic about their animal rights values.

So there's a glass of whale beer in front of you. It doesn't have a tiny whale in there, no whale jerky floaters or anything. It's 5.2% and crafted by master brewers. Do you drink it?

More important beer questions on Food Republic: