Thirty years of beer

On March 1st, 1989, the ban on beer in Iceland was finally lifted after 74 years. Thirty years later, Iceland celebrated with a nationwide Beer Day. Icelanders were sure to get out and celebrate the end of a sobering period in style.

The ban was initially implemented in 1915 when the population voted for the outlaw of alcoholic drinks. Other drinks were later allowed given that Iceland needed to be able to continue to trade with overseas nations—often meaning that alcohol would need to be exchanged one way, or another. Repeals to the ban were put forward in 1933, but the majority vote was to keep beer illegal.

Beer began to become more popular amongst Icelanders who had the ability to travel and taste it overseas. Icelandic bartenders responded with the ‘bjorliki’ cocktail, a pseudo-beer made by blending non-alcoholic pilsner with aquavit.

Modern-day Iceland has strict laws surrounding their alcohol. Apart from bars, alcohol is only sold at government-run monopoly store with limited opening hours and high taxes.