Several thousand American military personnel who were in Iceland for a training exercise nearly drank the country dry.
The troops—most of whom were from the Navy—guzzled so much beer that bars had to make emergency deliveries and steal from the stock of other nearby bars. The troops are in Iceland for a massive NATO training exercise—the biggest since the Cold War—local media reports that around 6,000 to 7,000 troops were stomping around Reykjavík, population 123,000, during the Great Beer Downing.
The drinkathon took place in the third weekend of October and lasted almost half a week—from Wednesday to Sunday, according to local media—and from all accounts, the bar owners didn’t seem to be prepared for how much beer these troops wanted to guzzle. The bar owners fought a valiant fight, calling in reinforcements. This meant borrowing beer from better-stocked bars and calling up a delivery service for rushed orders of beer at times. According to Icelandic Magazine, one blogger who surveyed the damage done said that the bar owners, while doing their best, "were fighting an overwhelming force.”
“We had to get extra of beer and strong wine,” Ingvar Svendsen, the owner of Reykjavík’s America bar (one of the popular bars among the soldiers) told VICE. “They were nice and had a lot of fun.”
It wasn’t that the troops were drinking shitty, shitty American beer on international turf either, no, according to local media, they actually were partial to the local flavours. “They drank some Icelandic beer on their farm trips, and [a bar owner] said they were diligent to taste local species,” reads a whimsically translated passage from local media. Svendsen reiterated this to VICE saying, “they loved Trash Can and the Icelandic beer platter.”
Trash Can, for those of you not familiar with Icelandic energy drink based cocktails, is a drink made from vodka, gin, rum, blue curacao, and tequila—it’s topped with an upturned Red Bull (think of a bulldog but for that guy in the My New Haircut video) In terms of beer, well, their drink of choice was Ölgerð Egils Skallagrímssonar’s Gull which, according to some pretentious beer websites I just checked, seems like a middle of the road lager that probably goes down well after a hard day working on an aircraft carrier.
Iceland, as I’m sure you’re aware of, is sparsely populated country with only about 338,349 in the entire nation. With their capital housing just over half of that, it’s easy to see how thousands of thirsty rowdy soldiers could do some damage to the national beer supply. The reputation of the soldiers precedes them it seems because Svendsen had a simple answer when asked if he was surprised by how much they boozed.
“No,” was all he said.
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