Brewers, on the whole, are a curious and creative bunch. Over the past year we’ve seen beer made out of Sriracha, scrapple, and even frozen pizza and cash. While there’s no real need for legal tender in our glasses, innovation only occurs when boundaries are pushed, so we’re generally content for brewers to keep experimenting. But there’s one new ingredient that has conservationists up in arms: whale.
Last January, Icelandic brewery Steðji launched a limited-run beer made with fin whale meal, a byproduct of reducing the whale’s flesh into oil. The brew was named Hvalur—after the whaling company that supplied the dried, ground fin whale—and was available on the domestic market for a few weeks only, timed to coincide with an Icelandic winter festival when cured whale is traditionally eaten.
Fin whales are the second largest mammals in the world, after blue whales. (Photo: Flickr/WhaleRiot)
Although the product was slammed by environmentalists (fin whales are an endangered species), it sold out almost immediately, reports Icelandic news site Visir. However, a public health and safety board has since ruled that beer containing whale meal (which can be made from viscera and intestines) is not safe for consumption, and prohibited its sale in the future.
This winter, however, Hvalur is back by popular demand. Steðji brewery is getting ready to launch Hvalur 2 on January 23, but to comply with the health board’s ruling, the beer was made without whale meal. Instead, reports Visir, it contains smoked fin whale testicle.
Hvalur and Hvalur 2. (Photo: Stedji)
“The testicles are cured according to an old, Icelandic tradition, lightly salted and then smoked. We put a lot of effort into this and it’s a long process,” brewery co-owner Dagbjartur Arilíusson told the news site. While endangered whale nut beer would make most Americans uncomfortable, Iceland has a long history of whaling and is also home to the world’s largest phallus collection, so Hvalur 2 may yet prove to be as successful as its forebear.
The beer isn’t being made available for export, but any adventurous stateside drinkers hankering for a taste of whale ale should track down Lost Rhino’s Bone Dusters Paleo Ale instead. The amber ale is brewed with yeast scraped from fossilized whale bones, which means no whales were harmed in order to produce it.