Iceland Mag

9 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

Today is the annual Icelandic Beer Day: 29 years ago the Beer Ban was lifted

By Staff

  • Kaldi The first Icelandic craft beer, introduced by the microbrewery Kaldi in North Iceland. Photo/George Leite

Every year on March 1 Icelanders celebrate the annual "Beer Day". The reason is that on this day in 1989 Icelanders were allowed to buy beer at bars and liquor stores for the first time in nearly three quarters of a century. Beer had been illegal since prohibition was introduced in 1915. In 1935, when prohibition was lifted, beer remained off-limits. Why beer was still illegal, while vine and strong alcohol was allowed, is still hard to understand!

Read more: The Downtown Microbrew Walk: A guided walk through the history of beer in Iceland

On March 1 1989 when beer was legalized after remaining banned for 74 years Icelanders flocked to the state monopoly stores Vínbúðin (alchol is still only sold in the state operated monopoly stores) to sample the once forbidden drink. On that first day Icelanders bought 340,000 cans of beer.

Since 1989 Icelanders have quickly learned to both drink and make beer. Today the best sold beer brands in Iceland are all Icelandic, and Icelandic micro brewed beer has won awards and international praise.

Read more:  An Icelandic microbrew revolution

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