Whale Testicle Ale and Other Misadventures in Brewing

Stedji latest edition of its Hvalur seasonal featured smoked whale testicles.
Stedji latest edition of its Hvalur seasonal featured smoked whale testicles.Image courtesy Brugghús Steðja

Icelandic beer lovers have a one-of-a-kind brew thanks to local brewery Stedji. The outfit just released a seasonal winter ale featuring whale testicles smoked over sheep manure. The brewers caused waves last year when they released the first version of the beer, called Hvalur (Icelandic for whale), which featured the meat, oil, and, bones of endangered fin whales. This year’s sequel, Hvalur 2, has taken it a step further by brewing with one smoked testicle per batch of beer. After the brewing cycle, the beer is filtered and pasteurized.

Stedji’s owner, Dagbjartur Arilíusson, said that the concept was inspired by wanting to create a beer with Icelandic ingredients that would pair well with traditional local foods such as blood pudding, liver sausage, and fermented shark.

Environmentalists and national health authorities question whether beer is fit for consumption. Anti-whaling and food safety regulations in all countries except for Norway and Japan (which don’t recognize global whale protection treaties) have banned the sale of the beer and it’s importation, so don't look for it at Whole Foods.

Hvalur 2 isn’t the first beer to have taken its ingredients too far. In a similar vein, Denver-based Wynkoop Brewing created the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout using 25 pounds of roasted bull testicles last year. That same year, Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon debuted a brew with a more human element: its Beard Beer was fermented with yeast cultured from the brewmaster's beard hairs. And while not an ingredient, in 2010, the Scottish BrewDog released a 55-percent alcohol beer called The End of History, which came bottled in taxidermied stoats and squirrels. Small brewers aren't alone, Anheuser-Busch has (too) long sold Bud Light Chelada, a variation heavily flavored with clam juice and salt.

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