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Massive military bar crawl a boon for Icelandic capital’s bars

Tim Nelson
October 29, 2018

There’s been a lot of talk these days about how demand for beer is down. We just don’t drink it as much as we used to, it would seem, given the proliferation of alternatives available on the market.

Well, don’t tell that to the more than 6,000 US sailors and marines who passed through Reykjavik over the weekend, because they apparently drank Iceland’s capital dry. According to reports from Icelandic news outlet Visir, the soldiers docked there during a break from NATO exercise Trident Juncture in the North Atlantic. Once on land, they quickly polished off all of the available beer at multiple restaurants and bars across the city of roughly 127,000 residents.

Lest you accuse these military men and women of being nothing more than uncultured swine, it’s important to note that they simply wanted to sample as much local craft bjór as possible. Some of the bars and restaurant owners that Visir spoke to said that the thirsty troops had a taste for local lagers, shunning more common imports. Chief among the domestic offerings was Gull, an Ölgerð Egils Skallagrímssonar brew that proved particularly popular. Military news outlet Stars and Stripes notes that the insatiable demand meant that Gull had to dip into its reserves and do emergency resupplies at area bars.

Ingvar Svendsen, who pours pints at the aptly-named American Bar, said the establishment did twice the business it expected to over the course of the weekend. “We had to send people out of the bar to our warehouses to bring beer back as quickly as possible,” Svendsen told Stars and Stripes. “Other bars ran out of beer altogether.”

Though one would assume that the presence of 6,000-plus thirsty sailors and marines would make for a boisterous scene, Svendsen said the massive bar crawl ended up being a relatively civil affair. “[They] were very polite and friendly, and caused no problems at all,” he said. “It looked like they were having a lot of fun. It was fun for us too, having them there.”

This isn’t the first incident this year that involves an invading force depleting a European city of its beer supply. Soccer fans did the same thing in Moscow during the World Cup back in June. And with an even larger military contingent set to converge in Norway for the next phase of the NATO exercise, you could say it’s a pretty good time to be a Scandinavian beer company.  

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