I don't know about you, but when I think about Vikings consuming their favourite beverages, I picture them drinking from large drinking horns, wooden tankards, or silver cups.
Their culture of drinking alcoholic beverages is evident in Norse mythology and many movies based on them. Needless to say, the Vikings were known as heavy drinkers.
But have you ever wondered what the Vikings drank from their drinking vessels? In this article, we’ll discuss the Viking’s favourite alcoholic beverages and delve into their history.
The Viking’s Favorite Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol was a large part of Norse culture.
Aside from mere entertainment and pastime, the Norse believed that consuming alcoholic drinks was a requirement to formalize treaties, deals, marriages, and while performing other ceremonies.
Mead - The Drink of The Gods
For the Vikings, mead was more than just a drink, it was also a religious fixture with a rather interesting story.
According to the Old Norse Mythology, two families of Norse gods, the Æsir and the Vanir signed a peace treaty and spat on a bowl to seal their bonds and friendship. From this bowl rose Kvasir, the wisest of all men.
The Vikings believed that mead originated from the blood of Kvasvir after he was murdered by two scheming dwarves.
Outside of Norse mythology, mead is actually a fermented beverage made from honey, water, and yeast.
Often referred to as the “drink of the Gods”, mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages ever made with its use dating back to around 4,000 years.
In the Viking culture, mead was usually reserved for the wealthy and to be consumed during special occasions.
Ale - The Commoners Choice
Since mead wasn’t very accessible to Norsemen of all classes, the middle and lower classes mainly chose to drink ale.
Ale was a staple in Norse culture. It was commonly consumed, not only during festivities and ceremonies but was part of their way of life.
In fact, it is believed that Norse people, even the children, drank ale more than water because it had to be boiled as part of the brewing process making it safer to drink.
However, the ale they consumed wasn't believed to have strong alcoholic content but it was high in caloric content. So the heavy consumption of this beverage was often used to fill caloric needs.
Like mead, the Viking's ale only required three ingredients. They are water, barley, and yeast.
Fruit Wine - Budget Wine Substitute
Odin, the king of the gods in Norse mythology, is believed to only drink wine.
Wine is made from fermented grapes and was imported from Germania and Francia. Due to the transportation costs, these wines were very expensive and were often reserved for the highest-ranking Vikings for use on special occasions.
Fruit wines, on the other hand, were made locally using a variety of local fruits, not just higher-priced grapes.
The fermentation process was still the same between wines and fruit wines, but the freely available local ingredients resulted in a much lower cost.
Since the Norse didn’t know how to distil liquor to make what we know as spirits, fruit wines were considered their strongest locally-produced alcoholic beverages.
Fruit wines are fermented alcoholic beverages made from a variety of fruits that grew locally.
Since the Norse didn’t know how to distil liquor, fruit wines were considered their strongest locally-produced alcoholic beverages.
Alcoholic beverages have been around for long before medieval times. Some findings date alcoholic beverages dating back to 7000BC. So as you can imagine these beverages have come a long way.
Back in the Viking age, Vikings drank Mead, Ale, Fruit Wine and Wine. Each drink was used for certain purposes and while Wine & Mead were reserved for the wealthy and special occasions, ale and fruit wine were more commonly drunk.
These alcoholic beverages formed a vital part of their religious beliefs and their cultural way of life.