Viking Liquor – What Did the Vikings Drink?

If you are interested in Viking history, you might be thinking about what type of Viking liquor was available back then. For the most part, Viking liquor included beer and mead, but there were a few others.

Let’s take a look at some of the spirits that Vikings drank can how Viking liquor affected their culture.

viking liquor

Viking History

To find out what Vikings liked to drink, you have to understand what their lives were like. Most people associate their lifestyle with a camping trip. They had little access to medication and didn’t understand sanitation practices. Plus, they had no refrigeration or running water. Therefore, they prized spring water access, but most of their hydration came from Viking liquor.

Vikings often drank Viking liquor for breakfast but didn’t imbibe too much. They wanted to be able to fight. Plus, alcohol might have helped them deal with contamination and food supply problems.

What was in a Viking Liquor Barrel?

History books often showcase Vikings drinking wine, beer, and liquor from horns.

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Though this is a helpful vision, the business of liquor in the Viking age was a little different. While they typically drank from a horn, they often had a Viking liquor barrel, making it a helpful way to get their drink whenever they wanted it.


Historical documents indicate that Vikings drank beers and mead, which is a type of liquor or wine made of fermented honey.

The Viking liquor barrel wasn’t actually filled with hard liquor because they didn’t use distillation practices for Viking liquor. Instead, it was used for medication and alchemy.

Vodka was the one exception. Though it was more like single malt scotches back then than what you know today, vodka was often used as medication. Swedish Vikings made it more popular.

Even fine wines and craft beers we not available. Everything was very simple.


Mead is the oldest alcoholic drink and is made from honey and water, as well as other plants. You’re unlikely to find much like that if you go to the store today, and it was served from a Viking liquor barrel. The women or taverns often provided service, but sometimes the men served themselves. The one advantage here is that it didn’t contain much alcohol and was sufficient to drink in large amounts.


These drinks were made of barely, and sometimes hops were added, which is similar to the craft beers you may find at the liquor store today.

However, Vikings couldn’t run to the store on a Monday night during business hours to get these craft beers. They were often sold at taverns from a Viking liquor barrel. Bartenders served them to the patrons, and you could only drink if you had proof that you could pay.

Fruit Drinks

You definitely didn’t find fine wines or single malt scotches in the Viking liquor barrel, but you might have gotten fruit wine.

The Vikings made this drink from local fruit, like berries, which they found in the areas where they lived and camped.

Typically, they were stored in a Viking liquor barrel to age, which was helpful because the Vikings often traveled and required food and drink while they moved.

How Was Service?

To drink the alcohol, the Vikings used a cattle horn. They tried to use every part of the cattle, so it was a helpful advantage, as these could be used multiple times.

The horn was often dipped into the Viking liquor barrel, filled, and they could go about their business.

However, this led to contamination issues because everyone drank from their horns and then dripped them into the Viking liquor barrel!

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Drink Your Liquor Fast!

There was a disadvantage to drinking from the Viking liquor barrel with a horn. You had to drink the liquor quickly because you couldn’t put it down.


Did the Vikings Use a Viking Liquor Barrel?

Yes, they did. They couldn’t run to the store on a Monday evening to get Viking liquor, so they used the Viking liquor barrel as storage. Whenever they set up camp for the night, they enjoyed various alcohols with their meals.

Did Vikings Drink Single-malt Scotches?

Typically, they did not drink hard liquor, though they could trade for it. The advantage here is that the Vikings had something of medicinal quality that they couldn’t buy from a regular store.

Did the Vikings Say Something Before Drinking Liquor?

While Americans often say “bottoms up,” the Vikings used “skol.” It was a friendly expression that showed companionship and friendship.


Liquor has been around for many decades, but Vikings couldn’t go to the store to get it. They often made liquor themselves or traded for it.

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