Beer flowed freely in Iceland for the first time in 74 years today as the last vestiges of prohibition came to an end.
Lines formed outside some of the nation’s 17 state liquor stores. Waiting patrons applauded when the Snorra Braut liquor store in central Reykjavik opened for business at 9 a.m.
Icelanders voted for prohibition in a 1908 referendum. The law didn’t take effect until 1915, when it was assumed the last alcoholic beverage on the island had been drunk.
The ban was repealed in 1933 but, through a legal quirk, beer with alcoholic content above 2.25% remained under prohibition. A powerful temperance lobby kept it that way until last May, when Parliament voted 13 to 8 to lift the ban effective March 1.
The luxury doesn’t come cheap.
With the government levying a hefty tax, a glass of beer in a bar costs $3.90 to $4.80.
Reykjavik Police Chief Boedvar Bragason said his force was on heightened alert for drunk drivers.