How To Make Mead Like A Viking

The Vikings were known for their love of feasting and indulging in strong, flavorful drinks. One of their favorite beverages was mead, a sweet and intoxicating drink made from honey, , and spices. In this article, we will delve into the world of Vikings and explore how they made mead.

To begin, it's important to understand the basic process of making mead. In its simplest form, mead is made by diluting honey with water and allowing it to ferment. The Vikings, however, had limited access to or starters like we do today. Instead, they relied on natural sources of bacteria to initiate the fermentation process. This could be achieved by using fruits or tree bark, which contained the necessary bacteria for fermentation.

Once the honey and water mixture was prepared, the Vikings would add additional ingredients to enhance the flavor of the mead. These ingredients were often gathered from forests and meadows and could include fruits, flowers, and herbs. The Vikings were resourceful and used whatever was available to them to create unique and flavorful meads.

It's worth noting that mead is often referred to as honey-, but some cultures differentiate between the two. The key characteristic of mead is that the primary source of fermentable sugar comes from honey. This sets it apart from other alcoholic beverages.

In Viking culture, mead was typically consumed alongside strong during festive occasions. It was a drink that brought people together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and celebration. The Vikings appreciated the sweet and rich flavors of mead, which provided a contrast to the more taste of beer.

To make mead like a Viking, you can follow these steps:

1. Start by diluting honey with water. The ratio of honey to water can vary depending on personal preference, but a common ratio is around 1 part honey to 3 parts water.

2. Add fruits, spices, or herbs of your choice to enhance the flavor. In Viking times, ingredients like berries, apples, cinnamon, and cloves were commonly used. Be creative and experiment with different combinations.

3. Once all the ingredients are mixed together in a container, cover it with a cloth to allow for proper fermentation. The Vikings would have used wooden or clay pots for this purpose.

4. Place the container in a cool, dark place and let it ferment for several weeks. The length of fermentation will depend on various factors, such as the temperature and the desired level of sweetness.

5. During the fermentation process, it's important to monitor the mead regularly. Check for any signs of spoilage or off flavors, and adjust as necessary.

6. Once the mead has reached the desired level of fermentation and flavor, it can be bottled and enjoyed. The Vikings would have likely served mead in communal drinking horns or wooden cups.

Making mead like a Viking is a fun and rewarding activity that allows you to connect with ancient traditions. It's a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the Vikings and their love for feasting and indulgence. So gather your ingredients, channel your inner Viking, and raise a horn of mead to celebrate the spirit of the past. Skål!

How Was Mead Made In Viking Times?

Mead, a popular alcoholic in Viking times, was made through a relatively straightforward process. Let's delve into the steps involved in creating mead during that era:

1. Gathering Honey: Vikings would collect honey from beehives or wild honeycombs found in the surrounding areas. This honey served as the primary ingredient for making mead.

2. Dilution: To make the mead, the gathered honey was diluted with water. The ratio of honey to water varied depending on the desired sweetness and strength of the final product. Vikings would typically add three to four parts water to one part honey.

3. Mixing: The honey and water were thoroughly mixed to ensure the honey was evenly distributed throughout the mixture. This step was crucial to achieve a consistent flavor in the mead.

4. Fermentation: Once the honey and water mixture was prepared, it was left to ferment. Fermentation is the process where yeast, naturally present in the honey or introduced intentionally, converts the sugars in the honey into . The Vikings relied on wild yeasts present in the environment for fermentation.

5. Storage: The fermentation process typically took several weeks to months. During this time, the mead was stored in containers made of materials such as wood, clay, or animal hides. These containers helped protect the mead from outside elements while allowing gases produced during fermentation to escape.

6. Aging: After fermentation, the mead was often aged to improve its flavor and smoothness. It was stored in cool and dark places for an extended period, which could range from months to years. Aging allowed the flavors to develop and the alcohol content to mellow.

7. Serving: Once the mead had aged to the desired level, it was ready to be enjoyed. Vikings would pour the mead into drinking vessels made from materials like horns, wood, or pottery. Mead was a significant part of Viking feasts and celebrations, often consumed during important events and gatherings.

To summarize, Viking mead was made by diluting honey with water, fermenting the mixture using wild yeasts, and then aging it over time. This simple yet time-consuming process resulted in a flavorful alcoholic beverage that played a significant role in Viking culture.

how to make mead like a viking

How Was Traditional Mead Made?

Traditional mead was made through a process called fermentation. Here is a step-by-step explanation of how it was made:

1. Gathering honey: The first step in making traditional mead was to gather honey, which served as the main source of fermentable sugar. Honey was typically collected from beehives or obtained from local beekeepers.

2. Mixing honey and water: The next step involved mixing the honey with water. The ratio of honey to water varied depending on the desired sweetness and strength of the final mead. The mixture was typically heated to help dissolve the honey and create a syrup-like consistency.

3. Adding additional ingredients (optional): Some traditional mead recipes called for the addition of various ingredients to enhance the flavor and aroma. These could include fruits, such as apples or berries, spices like cinnamon or cloves, grains like barley or oats, or even for a more beer-like flavor. These additional ingredients were often added to the honey-water mixture during or after heating.

4. Fermentation: Once the honey-water mixture was prepared, it was transferred to a fermentation vessel. This vessel could be a large barrel, a ceramic jug, or even a wooden cask. The mixture was left to ferment naturally, with the help of wild yeast present in the environment or by adding a specific strain of yeast.

5. Aging and clarification: After fermentation, the mead was typically aged for a period of time to allow the flavors to develop and the mead to clarify. This aging process could take several months or even years, depending on the desired taste and strength of the mead.

6. Bottling: Once the mead had aged to the desired level, it was bottled for consumption. The mead was typically filtered to remove any sediment or impurities before bottling.

It is important to note that the process of making traditional mead can vary across different cultures and regions. This is just a general overview of the traditional mead-making process.


The Vikings had a diverse and rich drinking culture, with mead being one of their most beloved beverages. Mead, also known as honey-wine, was made by fermenting honey with water and sometimes adding fruits, spices, grains, or hops. It was a sweet and flavorful drink that played a significant role in Norse festivities and celebrations.

The basic recipe for Viking mead consisted of honey diluted with water and fermented to create alcohol. While they didn't have access to yeast or starters, the Vikings used natural sources of bacteria, such as fruit or tree bark, to aid in the fermentation process. They also gathered additional ingredients like fruits, flowers, and herbs from forests and meadows to enhance the flavor and aroma of their mead.

It's important to note that mead is not a liquor, as it does not undergo distillation like traditional liquors do. Instead, mead is a fermented beverage, with its defining characteristic being that its main source of fermentable sugar comes from honey. The Vikings often enjoyed mead alongside strong beer during festive occasions, showcasing the versatility and popularity of both drinks in their culture.

Viking mead represents a fascinating aspect of Norse culinary traditions. Its sweet and complex flavors, along with its historical significance, continue to captivate modern-day enthusiasts who seek to recreate this ancient beverage. Whether enjoyed as a reminder of the Viking era or simply for its unique taste, mead remains a timeless symbol of the Vikings' love for fine drinks.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.