10 years ago

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 1999, 12:00am

REYKHAVIK (January 21): BREWERY companies from both sides of the Atlantic are clamouring for the right to sell beer in Iceland for the first time in 74 years.

Officials said on Thursday about 19 companies from the United States and Europe had sent tenders to Iceland, which in March would end the distinction of being Europe's only ale-free country.

Pubs and taverns are springing up all over the island and tables for March 1, which Icelanders are calling B-Day, have been booked up for months in advance.

Introduced in 1915, Iceland's prohibition laws were aimed at the selling rather than the drinking of alcohol.

The ban was lifted long ago for sales of wines and spirits, but opponents of beer sales said they would lead to more drunken driving.