• 3 min read

The favorite drink of the Vikings was probably mead, a fermented beverage made from honey.

Mead holds a significant place in Norse mythology and Viking culture, frequently mentioned in the sagas and poems as a prized drink of the gods and heroes. It was associated with poetry, inspiration, and the feast in Valhalla, where warriors hoped to be welcomed after death.

The high value placed on mead, its role in ceremonial occasions, and its symbolic connection to immortality and divine favor likely made it the most esteemed and celebrated drink among the Vikings.

Here's a detailed description of how mead is traditionally made:


  • Primary Ingredient: Honey is the backbone of mead, providing the sugars necessary for fermentation.
  • Water: Used to dilute honey to the desired concentration.
  • Yeast: Converts the sugars in honey into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Optional ingredients can include fruits (for melomels), spices (for metheglins), grains (for braggots), or even hops (for hopped mead), to add different flavors and characteristics.


  1. Sanitation: The first step in mead making, as in all brewing processes, is thorough sanitation. All equipment that will come into contact with the mead must be properly sanitized to prevent contamination.
  2. Preparation of Must:
    • The must (unfermented blend) is prepared by mixing honey and water in a large vessel. The ratio of honey to water can vary depending on the desired sweetness and alcohol content of the final product. A common starting point is about 3 pounds of honey per gallon of water for a medium-sweet mead.
    • This mixture is often heated gently to help dissolve the honey and to kill off any wild yeast or bacteria present, though this step can vary with preference. Some mead makers prefer to avoid heating to preserve the natural flavors of the honey.
  3. Cooling: If the must is heated, it needs to be cooled down to a temperature suitable for yeast addition, typically around 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C).
  4. Yeast Addition:
    • Once the must is at the correct temperature, yeast is added. The type of yeast can greatly affect the flavor and character of the mead. Some mead makers use wine yeast strains, while others prefer champagne or beer yeast, depending on the desired outcome.
    • Before adding, the yeast may be rehydrated or "proofed" in warm water to ensure it's active.
  5. Fermentation:
    • The must is transferred to a fermentation vessel, often a carboy or bucket, which is then sealed with an airlock to allow gases to escape while preventing outside air from entering.
    • Fermentation can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the mead's strength and the yeast strain's characteristics. During this time, the yeast converts the sugars in the honey to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  6. Racking: The mead is periodically transferred, or "racked," from one vessel to another to separate it from the yeast sediment that settles at the bottom, known as lees. This helps clarify the mead and can improve its taste.
  7. Aging: After fermentation is complete, mead is often aged for several months to several years. Aging can occur in the fermentation vessel or in bottles. The aging process allows the flavors to mellow and integrate, improving the mead's overall character.
  8. Bottling: Once aged to the desired level, the mead is bottled. It can be consumed immediately, but many meads continue to improve with further aging in the bottle.

Making mead is both an art and a science, with the potential for a wide range of flavors and styles. The process can be adjusted in many ways to suit the mead maker's preferences, leading to unique and personalized beverages.

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