By Jan Olsen

Copenhagen, Denmark - A native Greenland entrepreneur on Monday presented the Arctic island's first domestic beer, brewed on water at least 2 000 years old and melted from Greenland's vast ice cap.

The first 66 000 litres of a dark and a pale ale were produced at Greenland Brewhouse, the first-ever Inuit microbrewery in Narsaq, a hamlet in southern Greenland.

"It is the only beer in the world based on water that comes from Greenland's pure ice cap," Salik Hard, the Greenlander behind the four million kroner (about R4,75-million) project, said as he presented the brews in Copenhagen's downtown Tivoli amusement park.

"Today, with all the pollution ... you cannot get cleaner water than melted ice cap water," hard said.

The brewery opened in June with the capacity to produce up to 400 000 litres a year. The beer is shipped from the semi-autonomous Danish territory to Stralsund, on Germany's north coast, to be bottled.

Hard told The Associated Press that after "so many microbreweries sprouted these years in Denmark, we decided we also wanted to be part of the trend."

Greenland Brewhouse will mainly target the Danish markets. The beer - also to be sold in Greenland once bureaucratic red tape regarding bottle recycling is resolved - will be available in Danish shops at 37 kroner for a half-litre bottle.

Hard said he was in talks with Flensburger Brauerei that bottles the Greenland beer to sell the brew on the German market, and several American companies also have shown interest.

The brewery in Narsaq, 625km south of the Arctic Circle, also plans a Christmas beer for the end of 2006 and hopes for a fourth brew next year.

For now, it has only three employees - Hard, his partner Steen Outzen and brew master Rasmus Broge.

Another brewery, the Godthaab Bryghus, owned by Danish restaurant chain Hotel Hans Egede and specialising in brewing its own beer, will open August 17 in Nuuk, the Greenland capital. It will be able to produce 40 000 litres a year, to be sold only in the hotel bar and restaurant.

Greenland's 2,2 million square kilometres are covered at 85 percent by an ice cap that is up to 4 000 metres thick. - Sapa-AP