Published February 21, 2018
If a new bill becomes law, homebrewing of alcohol for personal consumption could be made legal in Iceland.
The bill in question, submitted by the Pirate Party with support from MPs from the Reform Party, the Independence Party and the Social Democrats, would simply involve removing three words from Chapter 2 Article 4 of the existing alcohol law: “or personal consumption”. In other words, homebrewing in order to sell alcohol would remain illegal should this bill pass, but Icelanders would be able to brew at home for personal use without fear of reprisals.
The bill argues that “alcohol consumption is an integral part of Icelandic culture”, as anyone who has wandered through downtown Reykjavík on a weekend night can likely attest. Homebrewing is popular in Iceland, and equipment for brewing beer is even available in stores in Iceland, but it remains technically illegal. The bill furthermore points out that Icelandic microbrews, and interest in Icelandic beer both at home and abroad, has been on the rise.
Despite the multipartisan support, it should not be taken as a given that the bill will be made law. It was last introduced in the 2015-2016 parliamentary session, but was never taken up for discussion.
Another factor to consider is Iceland’s seemingly contradictory attitudes towards alcohol. While Icelanders love to drink, beer was prohibited until 1989. Furthermore, the sale of alcohol in private shops is banned; alcohol for retail purposes may only be sold in government-run shops.