Medieval Beverages and Alcohol

Medieval life involved thick stew, carrots and parsnips, and perhaps some eggs from your pet chicken. What did the medieval person drink with their meal?

First, medieval people rarely drank water. Water can carry all sorts of bacteria in it. They would boil their water for soup and stew, but they would not drink it "raw" as a beverage.

Next, medieval people saw milk as a drink for children only. Keeping a milk cow was a luxury. Few adults would drink milk.

For health reasons, they tended to drink alcoholic beverages. The alcohol in the beverage would prevent organisms from growing in it. The antioxidants in wine would help to keep the people healthy. This tradition lasted well into colonial American days. People would easily drink eight or more servings of alcohol in a day as a normal routine.

To start with there was mead. This is a honey based alcoholic beverage. "Honeymoon" comes from the practice of a newly married couple drinking mead for one month solid to help ensure their fertility. Mead tends to range from 8% alcohol to 18% alcohol. Heated mead would be called "mulled mead". This was often a wintertime drink.

Apple cider was always alcoholic. This can be made in a variety of ways, with mead added, and with other flavorings added.

There was ale from grain, and beer was unfiltered and very thick. You literally filtered it with your teeth while you drank it! What we'd think of as "Modern beer" - made with hops - only came in after medieval times.

And then of course there's wine, which has been enjoyed for thousands of years. The English knew all about wine! Wine could be made from grapes, fruits, and berries. I run a wine site and have TONS of pages on the history of wine, including photos of wine casks and descriptions of wine in medieval times. Visit to learn more about wine in the medieval world. Whiskey
From the 1100 to 1300 period monks began making whiskey but not as a drink, more as a medicine to cure things. Whiskey requires a distillery which was not necessarily a common household appliance. It's only after the 1300s that it began to be drunk as an alcoholic beverage and even then it was specialized monasteries that were creating it.

Medieval Eating
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Medieval Beverages
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