Iceland passed Prohibition laws in 1915, but but lifted the ban on wine and spirits after only a few years. Ironically, the ban on beer remained, as people feared that the low cost of beer would encourage drunkeness. Of course, Icelanders found a way to get drunk off of beer despite the ban; they simply mixed hard liquor with the non-alcoholic beers available at the local supermarkets. In the late 80s Parliament came to its senses and repealed the ban on beer, making it legal again on March 1st, 1989.
Now Beer Day in Iceland is celebrated every March 1st to commemorate the repeal of the 75-year ban on beer.
In Reykjavik, the event is celebrated with – as expected – lots of drinking, all-day (and all-night) pub crawls, and special parties at local bars. Consider it the Icelandic version of St. Patrick’s Day. Though you won’t find people wearing green, you will find people starting their celebratory day of drinking with breakfast. Many bars open early and host all day parties for the occasion.
If you’re in Iceland on Beer Day, be sure to raise a pint with the locals (check out the English-language paper, the Reykjavik Grapevine for details on events). To learn more about beer in Iceland, you can book a brewery tour in Iceland, visiting the country’s oldest brewery, the Olgerdin Brewery in Reykjavik.
- Katie Hammel