Sometimes it needs weird things to put a country back on the map. A seasonal beer from Iceland will for sure fall into this category. Steðji Brewery, founded in 2012 in Borgarfjörður, Iceland created in 2015 this beer which is made with whale testicle that’s been smoked in sheep’s dung. Because of its success, Hvalur2, as it is called, is now brewed every year for the annual Thorri festival in January and February. The giant whale testicles which weigh 15 to 18 pounds each are bought from an Icelandic company that is allowed to hunt 150 pieces of fin whale every year.
Dagbjartur Arilíusson, the owner of the Steðji microbrewery, explains the production process in detail: “We get the testicles frozen from the whaling company, and we have a licensed butcher chop it up for us to use. The testicles are cured according to an old Icelandic tradition. The testicles are salted, and then smoked with sheep dung. A whole testicle is used in every brewing cycle, and then the beer is filtered and pasteurized.”
Anti-whaling campaigners criticize the product. “This is a calculated move, not only to dishonor a beautiful and endangered creature by using its most intimate of body parts as a marketing tool but also sends a clear ‘two fingers’ to the conservation community and those who love and respect whales.”
“We eat rotten (fermented) shark, sour (cured) whale fat, ram´s testicles and so on because that’s what our ancestors ate,” says Ariliusson. So the beer pairs perfectly with the Icelandic traditions and the celebrations of the Thorri feast each year. “We consider this ingredient to be in the style of Thorri,” he adds. Thorri is a midwinter festival, named for the month of Þorri of the historical Icelandic calendar. The historical context is from the Orkneyinga saga, where Þorri ("Frost") is an early Finnish king, the son of Snær ("Snow").