Home Beer On Iceland’s dung-smoked whale testicle beer

On Iceland’s dung-smoked whale testicle beer

Yep, you read that right. Our Q&A with brewer Dagbjartur Arilíusson.
SHARE
, / 18
CATEGORIES: Beer   Travel  

Hvalur 2, the whale testicle beer // Bjorn Ludviksson for DRAFT

Hvalur 2, the whale testicle beer // Bjorn Ludviksson for DRAFT

Fin whale testicles may not seem like a natural ingredient for, well, anything. But Dagbjartur Arilíusson, owner of the Steðji microbrewery in Iceland, disagrees: Whale testicles—actually, whale testicles smoked with sheep dung—are the signature ingredient in his seasonal beer, Hvalur 2. It’s all part of the brewery’s passion for ingredients unique to its far corner of the world.

(DRAFT) How did you come to own a brewery on a farm in the Icelandic countryside?
(Arilíusson) We started in 2012 because we own this farm in Borgarfjörður [West Iceland] and we wanted to have a job near us at home. We were thinking outside the box. Beer is a passion, and German beer making inspires me, so we connected with a German brewer in Iceland because we were interested in the German purity laws.

What’s special about the beers you brew?
We have four kinds of beer—dark, lager, ale and strawberry fruit beer. We also have seasonal beers like our Christmas beer that uses raw licorice as an ingredient, our October beer that includes red barley and pumpkin seeds, and our Easter beer that is brewed with cocoa and Icelandic seaweed. The theme is always to include something Icelandic.

You also brew beer made from fin whale testicles…
We started last year with our first whale beer, Hvalur 1. The health department didn’t want us to produce it at first, but we were allowed to. The beer used whale meal as an ingredient, and it was something new for Iceland. It sold out almost immediately. This year, for Hvalur 2, we wanted to keep the concept, but use a different whale ingredient. We decided to use fin whale testicles.

How, exactly, do you brew with whale testicles?
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. We put a lot of effort into this, and it’s a long process.

What’s the beer’s connection to Iceland’s annual food festival, Thorrablot?
We wanted to create a true Thorrablot atmosphere that celebrates traditional Icelandic food. Every winter, Icelanders gather to eat traditional food that sustained our ancestors for generations. This is very popular here in the countryside, and we wanted the beer to be released at the same time of the festival. The dishes we eat include boiled sheep heads, liver sausage, ram testicles, fermented shark, wind-dried fish, smoked lamb meat, and blood pudding. We thought that Hvalur 2 would fit in well with Thorrablot by using an ingredient that is a little different.

Does the criticism from whale conservationists bother you?
It actually brings more attention to the beer, which is a positive thing. Most of the protests come from people outside of Iceland. People have to remember that the fin whale is not endangered in the North Atlantic, and Iceland is known for sustainable fishing and setting quotas for our whale hunt. There’s actually a lot of demand for our beer to be exported, but there are laws that limit which countries can import it because of anti-whaling laws. The beer will sell out in Iceland, and people from other countries want a taste.

Any new beers on deck?
We’re always thinking of how to use different Icelandic ingredients in our beer. It started with beers that use Icelandic seaweed and whale ingredients, and we’re thinking about other ideas like including Icelandic moss in a beer; we’re experimenting right now with an ale that has a lemon flavor.

 


Brewery Travels
draftmag.com

Brewery Travels: My Favorite Brewery/Beer from Each State

In my ongoing quest to visit breweries all across this great land, I have now surpassed the 400 mark, and they’ve been spread across 37 states and 175+ cities. To celebrate this landmark, I’ve put together a ‘Special Edition’ of Brewery Travels: A rundown of my favorites in each of the states visited so far.

CATEGORIES: Beer   Feature   Midwest Breweries   Midwest Feature   Northeast Breweries   South Breweries   Travel   West Breweries  

draftmag.com

Why a Miller Lite Was the Best Beer I’ve Ever Had

I’ve worked in craft beer for nearly five years now. I’ve had the fortune to try some truly amazing brews: Pliny the Elder, Heady Topper, Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout. Supplication? I’ve got one in my mini-fridge. The reason I’m telling you this is because I want to frame my statements here properly. I’ve had good beer, trust me. The best beer I’ve ever had, though, was a Miller Lite.

CATEGORIES: Beer   Feature   MIDWEST   Midwest Feature  

18 Comments

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

205 queries in 2.613 seconds.