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Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

The Þorra-beers will soon hit the shelves, including a 14,5% imperial stout from Borg microbrewery

By Staff

  • Surtur 8.2 Imperial Stout Strongest beer brewed in Iceland, 14,5% abv, named after a fire giant from Norse mythology. Photo/Borg brugghús.

Soon the Þorra beers will hit the shelves of the ÁTVR liquor stores. According to an announcement from ÁTVR the stores will offer 10 different seasonal beers from January 21 to February 20. Perhaps the most interesting of these is a record strong Surtur. This Imperial Stout will have an alcohol content of 14,5%, making it the strongest beer ever brewed in Iceland.

Þorra-beers have in recent years become an indispensable part of the traditional Icelandic mid-winter feast Þorrablót.

Read more: The great mid-winter feast named Þorrablót, in honour of the Nordic god of thunder

Surtur is a deep black Russian Imperial Stout. Borg will be selling two different Surtur brews at the ÁTVR liquor stores. A Surtur 8.2 which is aged on American bourbon barrels, and a Surtur 8.4 is aged on Scottish Single Malt barrels. Both have an alcohol content of 14,5%.

A fire giant from Norse mythology
Surtur means the black or swarthy one, and is the name of a fire giant In Norse mythology. He is one of the guards of the world of Múspell, the realm of fire. At the time of Ragnarrök Surtur will then ride around the worlds of the gods and men along with the other sons of Múspell, burning the world with his sword of fire. He will also kill the god Freyr in battle during Ragnarrök. Freyr is one of the Æsir, a god of fertility, sun and rain.

The word surtur has also been used in Icelandic as a derisive term for people of colour, causing some controversy when Borg first introduced a Surtur beer in a 2012. In an interview with the local news site pressan.is at the time Sturlaugur Jón Björnsson, one of the master brewers at Borg brewery, said that the name was not intended to have any racist undertones, but was a simple reference to the black colour of the beer and Norse mythology. He also pointed out there were a number of places in Iceland which are named after Surtur, including Surtsey island and Surtshellir cave.

We could add that by re-attaching the term surtur firmly to it’s origins in Norse mythology and associating it with a popular beer and a fire giant, it is potentially robbed of its potency as a racial slur.

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