Viking Drinking Habits

A few months ago, I talked about the Viking diet but I want to focus this time on their drinking habits. Different questions related to drinking will be answered and tackled in this blog post.                          

Did the Vikings really drink the blood of their enemies?

No, they didn’t. We’d like to think that they used the skulls of their enemies but this is simply not a reality. Drinking blood is for vampires and drinking using the skulls was actually a misunderstanding of an Old Norse poetic kenning (Krákumál 25)

Where did they drink then? 

It was stated in Krákumál 25 that they drank from either horns of goats or cattles. Apart from that, they also drank from wooden beakers, metal beakers and glass cups. 

Besides water, what did they drink?

Fresh water was obviously something that they drank to quench their thirst after a long day at the farm, ransacking and other activities. Apart from that, they also drank beer (ale), mead and wine. According to written records, these drinks were common from 775-1050 A.D.

How often did they drink?

Mead and beer were an integral part of the Norse society based on the Hávamál and other Norse documents. This was the reason why they drank these beverages more often than we expected. They brought it with them during their long sea voyages. In addition to this, having these drinks made their lives easier as they didn’t need to have stopovers just to get fresh water from time to time.

What did they do to make these drinks last and was it beneficial to them? 

Since their seaborne journeys took longer than normal sea trips in this century, they had to find a way to make their drinks last longer. In order for them to do that, the beverages they brought with them went through a process called “fermentation” to enhance shelf life. These drinks also had more calories than fresh water so it’s safe to say that they preferred to drink these beverages for more energy.    

Did they get drunk?

Yes, it was normal to get drunk when they drank more than necessary. However, it is worth noting that their drinks back in the day had pretty much lower alcohol content so they had to drink more at that time to get drunk.


Did they have an idea that too much is dangerous?

Moderation was definitely a key and there were clearly warnings from Odin of the disadvantages of having too much in the Viking Hávamál. 

Were children allowed to drink beer? 

It’s quite shocking to say but yes, children from certain towns were allowed to drink beer. They were allowed to do this not just every once in a while but every single day. Yes, you read that right! Not everyone at that time who lived on a farm had clean water nearby so they had to find a way to quench their thirst. However, they only drank beer with a high alcohol percentage at night, during rituals and feasts and preferred to drink with low alcohol content in the mornings. 


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