There will be a few hangovers in Iceland tomorrow, for today is beer day and there will be much quaffing. They've certainly got plenty to celebrate with 21 of their own lagers, stouts, beers and ales.

In 1915, prohibition of all alcoholic drinks began in Iceland. Over the years, the ban was partially lifted to allow wine and sprits, but the beer ban continued right up until 1st March 1989. Since then, beer production has thrived and beer has become the nation's favourite alcoholic drink. Seventy percent of the beer drunk in Iceland is domestically produced.

Before the ban, thirsty and inventive beer enthusiasts created fake beer by adding the local fermented potato spirit to non-alcoholic lager. Both were legal, so a bizarre concoction was born.

Nowadays Iceland produces some great beer. Its quality can be attributed to the clean, soft water used by the breweries, melted from glaciers and filtered through lava fields. It is filtered but not chemically treated at all, and that makes a huge difference to the final product.

Today's celebrations will involve quite a bit of beer drinking, with many people taking part in the 'rúntur' or 'round tour', a bar crawl around Rekjavik until the early hours.

If you're lucky enough to be joining the fun, the finishing point of the rúntur for many locals is ending up at a Pylsur (hot dog) stand in the harbour that sells delicious lamb and pork sausages in a bun with remoulade and onions.

And if you wake up with a sore head the next day, pay a visit to one of Rekjavik's lovely public pools. Float about and soothe away the headache in the geothermally heated water. It'll sort you right out.

For those of us not in Iceland today, let's raise a glass of the fizzy amber stuff and say Skál!

 

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