Iceland, National Beer Day – 1st March

Lief Ericson Statue Reykjavik Iceland

“Drink is a sort of anaesthetic, it diminishes the pain…and I did quite enjoy the days when one went for a beer at one’s local in Paris and woke up in Corsica.” – Peter O’Toole

In Iceland March 1st is National Beer Day and a sadly missed blogging pal Richard explained why…

“Before I talk about beers and bars, here’s a bit of history that might surprise you. Prohibition was introduced in Iceland in 1915, and although spirits and wine were later allowed, beer was still outlawed until 1989. The beer ban was finally lifted on 1st March that year, a day celebrated annually by the nation as Beer Day. Beer festivals, pub-crawls and drunken debauchery allegedly ensue. I’d loved to have experienced Beer Day in the bars of Reykjavik, but unfortunately got there four days too late!”

I imagine Richard found Reykjavik a little quiet as it recovered from a collective hangover!  I would like to but here is a word of caution, if like me,  you are tempted to join Icelanders to celebrate 1st March then be sure to take a lot of cash because beer (and everything else as it happens) is very expensive.  Here is a top tip – if you are travelling to Iceland and you want some spirits, beer or wine then be sure to visit the airport duty free shop after you land because here alcohol can be bought for almost sensible prices.


But Iceland isn’t the only place to celebrate a National Beer Day.

National Beer Day is celebrated in the United States every year on 7th April, marking the day that the Cullen–Harrison Act which repealed prohibition became law.  After being signed off by President Franklin D. Roosevelt it is alleged that he said “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” 

Everyone seemed to agree with him because it is said that on the day that the Act was passed into law people across the country consumed one and a half million barrels of beer to celebrate.  This raises a question mark for me – during prohibition who brewed one and a half million barrels of beer and why?

Not satisfied with National Beer Day, the USA has a second day of celebration on 27th October which is celebrated as National American Beer Day.  There are more than two thousand breweries that manufacture beer in the United States and I suspect that they all taste the same.


In 1990 I first visited World Disney World in Florida and spent an hour or so at EPCOT World Showcase.  After a whirlwind tour of the World we came eventually to the United Kingdom, designed to look like a typical British village with shops, thatched cottages and gardens. The shops sold British goods, such as tea, toys, clothing, and Beatles merchandise. I was fed up with it all by now and bypassed Hampton Court and the Cotswold village and aimed for The Rose & Crown Pub which at least served English beer.

I ordered a pint and so did an American guest but he took one sip and his face distorted in agony at the taste (English beer has flavour whereas American beers do not), he said ‘What the hell is that?” and slammed it down on the bar and left.  I was tempted to take it but the bar staff, obviously used to this reaction, swiftly took it away and poured it down the sink.

EPCOT UK Barmaid

And another day to mark in the diary in the USA is 24th January which is Beer Can Appreciation Day which celebrates the day in 1935 when beer was first sold in cans.

National Beer Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated on 15th June which is a happy coincidence for me because that also happens to be the day of my birth.  15th June was chosen as the day of celebration not in recognition of my birthday however but rather because it happens to be the day in 1215 when Magna Carta was signed by King John and the Barons at Runneymede and article 35 of the Charter stated “Let there be throughout our Kingdom a single measure for wine and a single measure for ale…”


During research I have been surprised to find no mention of a National Beer Day in Australia but someone suggested to me that is probably because every day is Beer Day in Australia.

If they ever did have a National Beer Day I would suggest April 30th to celebrate a gargantuan beer drinking achievement.  The Australian cricketer David Boon (who had a moustache so huge it had to be taken out twice a day for a walk) famously drank fifty-two cans of beer on a flight from Sydney to London before the 1989 Ashes tour, breaking a record of forty-four set by Doug Walters and Rod Marsh on an earlier flight.

Boon himself played down the achievement by pointing out that they were only small airline sized cans.

David Boon Australia Beer


29 responses to “Iceland, National Beer Day – 1st March

  1. Off to get myself a beer. Thanks for the suggestion.


  2. A good read 🙂 Most days are beer days for him unless he is driving.


    • Same for me and now the recycling collection has been reduced to fortnightly I get my exercise walking to the bottle bank!


      • Spain is good on recycling. We have the ordinary bin and a plastic/can bin just putside, and bottles and paper down the town. Gib is not as good 😦 Recyclers are further away so consequently people don’t bother. Streets are too narrow, parking is tight as it is blah blah.


      • I have never been 100% convinced about the value of household recycling. Money would be better spent dealing with and enforcing against careless (criminal) litter disposal. I went to Turkey a couple of years ago and was stunned by the level of roadside litter that will never, ever be picked up and dealt with!


      • They introduced litter enforcement officers here (or some such similar crap title). Trouble was, the government hadn’t passed the required legislation for the officers to enforce anything 😀 Toytown rules!


  3. 7.2% vol. I think I’ll give that one a miss.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a civilized country


  5. I had a young man in my class a few years back who was on the books with Nottinghamshire and his coach was David Boon who, via the young man, did confirm to me the truth of the story. My pupil was extremely impressed with Mr Boon, of course!


    • What about snooker player Bill Werbeniuk – 76 cans of lager during a game with John Spencer in Australia in the 1970s;43 pints of lager in a snooker match/drinking contest against Scotsman Eddie Sinclair in which, after Sinclair had passed out following his 42nd pint, Werbeniuk was reported to say “I’m away to the bar now for a proper drink”; 28 pints of lager and 16 whiskies over the course of 11 frames during a match against Nigel Bond, in January 1990 – after which he then consumed an entire bottle of Scotch to “drown his sorrows” after losing the match.

      He died aged just 56!


  6. The big brands are pretty much what you expect of American beers – insipid, served too cold, but most of those breweries you note in your text make small batch artisanal brews that Europeans needn’t sniff down their noses at. It is the best thing to happen to brewing in this country. Many are associated with restaurants, where they are the exclusive brew served. They range in styles typical of Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, even England, and can be worth seeking out.


  7. Oh, oh, you wound me deeply with your disdain for our breweries. I did some volunteer work in France with a man from Australia, and commented once that I had tried Foster’s but didn’t care for it all that much. “Because that isn’t beer!” he retorted. (btw, the place I truly believe does not understand beer properly is France. My goodness.) It occurs to me that exports are most often the worst possible excuse for beers. I’m hoping that’s your American beer experience, so I can forgive you with a glad heart. Excuse me while I head off to drink a pint of a local craft brew and drown my wounded pride. (and P.S. recommend an English beer for me, will you? Something I might be able to find imported here?)


  8. My hobby for many years has been home brewing of beer. Then I switched to whisky. Anyway here are two quotes that need replaying.
    “Beer is God’s way of saying he loves us” (Not theologically correct but anyway…)
    “Whisky is what beer wants to be when it grows up.”


  9. It seems unimaginable that Canada doesn’t have a national beer day! It’s as ludicrous as Australia being without one.


  10. Pingback: National Beer Days | Age of Innocence

  11. In Melbourne we celebrate National beer day every tomorrow.


  12. Pingback: Festival Days – March 1st | Have Bag, Will Travel

  13. One of the few occasions when I’m with the Americans in the Taste Department. Not a fan of beer, so the less taste, the better! Don’t knock me off your list of blogging pals …


  14. I want to know if you drank any of that Icelandic beer


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