Most people imagine the Vikings as fierce warriors, sailing around in their longships and pillaging villages. And while it’s true that they were excellent warriors, they were also pretty good at drinking.
Drinking was such an important part of Viking culture that there were special rules and customs.
So, what did the Vikings drink?
The most popular beverages among the Vikings were beer and mead. Beer was made from barley, water, and yeast, while mead was made from honey, water, and yeast. Wine was also popular among the Vikings.
In this article, we’ll look at the drinking culture in Viking society, the different types of alcoholic beverages, and the different drinking vessels used.
Viking Drinking Culture
Vikings hail from Scandinavia, which is located in northern Europe. The climate there is cool, and the winters are long and dark. So it’s no wonder Vikings developed a drinking culture to help them get through the long, dark winters.
Drinking was an important part of Viking culture, and it was considered a sign of honor to be able to drink a lot of alcohol without getting sick or passing out. This is because Viking culture was very competitive.
To show that you were the best, you had to be able to drink more than anyone else.
Drinking was seen as a way to bond with other people and show guests respect. Therefore, it was considered rude not to drink when offered a beverage. There were also special rules and customs surrounding drinking.
For example, spilling your drink was considered bad luck, and you were supposed to finish it before leaving the table. Vikings utilized various vessels such as horns, bowls, and cups to drink.
Different Types of Viking Alcoholic Beverages
The most popular beverages among the Vikings were beer, mead, wine, and cider.
Viking beer was made from barley, water, and yeast. The barley was first crushed and mixed with water to make a mash. This mash was then left to ferment for a few days before being boiled.
Once it was boiled, the yeast was added, and the mixture was left to ferment for another week. After that, it was ready to drink.
Mead was made from honey, water, and yeast. The honey was diluted with water to make mead and then left to ferment for a few weeks.
Once fermented, the yeast was added, and the mixture was left to ferment for another week or so. After that, it was ready to drink.
Mead was considered a luxurious drink and was often reserved for special occasions. It was also given to guests as a sign of honor.
The wine was not as popular as beer or mead among the Vikings, but they consumed it occasionally. Viking wine was made from grapes, water, and yeast.
The grapes were crushed and then mixed with water to make a mash. This mash was left to ferment for a few weeks before it was strained and bottled.
Cider was also not as popular as beer or mead, but it was still occasionally consumed, especially in the winter. Viking cider was made from apples, water, and yeast.
The apples were crushed and then mixed with water to make a mash. Once the mash had fermented for a few weeks, it was filtered and stored in bottles.
The Vikings also drank other alcoholic beverages. These included:
Aquavit: This is a type of vodka that is made from potatoes or grain. It was flavored with caraway seeds and other spices.
Brennivin: A variety of aquavit, this one fermented from potatoes or grain. Spices like caraway seeds were also used to give it a taste.
Gjetost was the Vikings’ go-to snack food when they hit the bottle. To make the Norwegian brown cheese known as Gjetost, Vikings used Goat’s milk or a combination of goat’s and cow’s milk. A vat of whey, cream, and milk was slowly cooked for a perfect Gjetost Cheese.
Different Viking-Era Drinking Vessels
The Vikings used a wide array of drinking vessels, including horns, bowls, and cups. Among Viking soldiers, drinking horns were a must-have item. The horn would be filled with mead or beer and then emptied at once.
Viking Drinking Horns
Drinking horns were especially popular among Viking warriors. They would fill the horn with mead or beer and then drink it in one go.
Viking Drinking Cups
Viking drinking cups were made from wood, horn, or metal. They were often carved with intricate designs and sometimes had handles.
Viking Drinking Bowls
Viking drinking bowls were usually made from wood or horn. They were shallow and wide, which made them perfect for sharing drinks with others.
Viking’s drinking culture was centered around beer, mead, cider, and wine. In addition, the Vikings consumed different types of alcoholic beverages on other occasions. It was a badge of honor for a Viking to be able to consume large quantities of alcohol without becoming ill or passing out.
Consuming alcoholic beverages was a polite approach to showing appreciation for one’s guests and strengthening social bonds. Therefore, refusing a drink when offered was seen as impolite.
Furthermore, drinking was subject to its own set of norms and rituals. For instance, the custom of leaving a table without having finished your drink was thought to bring bad luck.
The Vikings used a wide array of drinking vessels. Drinking horns, cups, and bowls were the most famous vessels used by the Vikings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most Vikings probably did not drink alcohol every day. Instead, drinking was often reserved for special occasions or social gatherings.
No, Vikings did not drink whiskey. Whiskey was not invented until the 15th century.
Vikings drank water when they were thirsty. As a result, water was the most common beverage consumed by the Vikings.