Did the Vikings Drink Beer?
The Viking drinks
In Vikings society there are two sacred drinks: Beer and Mead. While mead was the drink of the priestly class closely linked to the magical-religious function, beer was the drink of the warrior class. Today we will see the symbolisms of these two sacred woods in the Ásatrú.
Beer and mead in the Viking period.
Among the Vikings, and probably also among the Celts, beer was known to have medicinal virtues. Mixed with certain specific herbs, beer proved to be an effective remedy. Magic is not absent from beer, it had a magical role of love
A woman who wanted to conquer the heart of a warrior had to perform a magical rite with beer and then offer the said beer to the person, this allowed a true magical union of the two beings.
Mead for the Vikings
Mead, on the other hand, is a drink well known as poetic mead in Ásatrú. And besides being a very drunk drink in the Nordic world, it has a whole religious and magical symbolism. It was the drink of the nobles and people of great importance in society.
Symbolism of beer among the Vikings
The symbolism of beer was warlike. Beer frees the minds of warriors and allows connection with the Gods, according to ancient pagan beliefs. It is truly the drink of immortality for men of war. She invites them to unite with their Ministering Gods. Thus, in the German tradition, beer consumption was particularly recommended on Thursdays.
This is a revealing detail when we remember that Thursday is the day dedicated to the God Thor, the most powerful and powerful warrior God in the Viking pantheon. On that day it was customary to make an offering of beer to Thor, the ancestors, and the spirits of the natural world. Beer was poured on the sacred places dedicated to the different religions. For the God Thor, this offering was generally made at the foot of an oak tree, the tree dedicated to this divinity.
The Viking holidays and beers
All the major Germanic festivals were accompanied by beer, whether it was a popular or religious celebration or after a military victory. For the Germans, beer was also a sacred drink because it has medical virtues, today science gave proof to this belief if the beer is drunk in moderation, but especially daily.
The symbolism of mead is also sacred, but much more spiritual than that of beer. Mead is a drink that gives poet's talent to those who drink it. It is a drink well known in German-Nordic legends, the God Odin himself gave of himself to have this drink and offer it to the Aesi Gods.
Beer and religion for the Vikings
According to the spirituality of our religion, the Gods celebrated the truce they had just concluded with the creation of Kvasir. He was so wise that he could not be asked a question he did not know the answer to. But he was the victim of two dwarves, Fjallar and Gallar, who killed him and spread his blood in a cauldron, then mixed his blood with honey, obtaining a mead that transformed anyone who drank it into a "poet or scientist". Later that same mead that fell into the hands of Baugi, and his brother Suttung, was stolen by the God Odin, who only gave it to people worthy of drinking it.
This is how and for that reason, the class of poets had a very great recognition in German-Nordic society. The rich families and that of the nobility, who are, according to tradition, descendants of the Gods themselves, could only have on their tables, this sacred drink of the Gods.
The beer of the Vikings in our time
It is impossible to talk about Germanic beer without making an unavoidable detour into our modern age. Indeed, how could we not mention the famous beer festival in the German city of Munich, which is one of the biggest in the world. This world-famous Bavarian beer festival is called Oktoberfest in German. It is a distant echo of the ancient pagan tradition of the Erntedankfest. The Gods were thanked for the harvest that took place through many festivities and offerings. And of course all the major Germanic festivals were accompanied by beer. It should be noted, however, that nowadays, this Munich festival has become extremely commercial and has little in common with the original spirit of the October festival. It is in the villages of the Bavarian Alps where the visitor will have the best chance to rediscover the whole soul of this festival.
Germany is the country of the biggest beer drinkers
Today Germany remains the country of the greatest beer drinkers, the Bavarians are the world champions in beer consumption. The country is entirely dotted with Bierpalast ("beer palace"), Biergarten ("beer garden"), Bierstube ("brewery"), Bierkeller ("beer cellar"), Bierhaus ("beer house") and Bierzelt ("beer tent") which can be found during the many festivals. Beer in Germany is even part of the country's culture and German gastronomy.
Beer consumption among the German people averages 161 litres per year per person in Bavaria alone.
It would appear that mead was a much more common alcoholic drink in days past. These days I don’t ever recall seeing mead for sale in the local grocery store.