Drinks of the Epoch: Medieval Drinks that Became Modern

Drinks of the Epoch:

Medieval Drinks that Became Modern

In the history of Europe, the period between the 5th and 15th centuries is called the Medieval or Middle Ages. And scholars also call it the Dark Ages. Most people think that the name of this historical period reflects an overall decline in culture, philosophical thought in Western Europe and growing prudence based on religion, which means that some things like drinking, for instance, was highly frowned upon and forbidden. 

But this is far from the truth. The Dark Ages is somewhat misleading. On the contrary, we can find a lot of evidence that the very drinking was common with medieval folk and especially clergymen (surprise, surprise). They didn’t only enjoy water or milk. And many medieval drinks from that period are highly popular nowadays. So let’s have a look at medieval alcohol that we drink today.

In the history of Europe, the period between the 5th and 15th centuries is called the Medieval or Middle Ages. And scholars also call it the Dark Ages. Most people think that the name of this historical period reflects an overall decline in culture, philosophical thought in Western Europe and growing prudence based on religion, which means that some things like drinking, for instance, was highly frowned upon and forbidden.

Beer

 

Beer has always been one of the most favourite beverages of humankind. Even ancient Egyptians used to brew the drink and greatly enjoy it. And not surprisingly that it found its way to Western Europe as well. 

Middle ages beer was the most popular drink during the Mediaeval period and people consumed it almost on a daily basis throughout the Old Continent. Monks and other clergymen were the ones who produced the drink and yielded a fat profit. Medieval beer was accessible to almost all segments of society.

Beer in the Middle Ages somewhat differed from beers we have today. It was mostly because it was made with gruit, which is a combination of different herbs to make the beverage more flavorful and bitter. Beer made with hopes was used in the 8th and 9th centuries but it didn’t gain popularity because it was difficult for beer makers to establish the right proportions of it. That’s why gruit was the most widely used ingredient in Europe up till the 15th century, even though it didn’t not possess good preserving qualities and medieval  beer could go off within a short period of time.

Beer - popular drink during the Mediaeval period

Ale 

 

This drink was considered to be another type of beer which was made of yeast, water, and grain. The name derives from the two Germanic worlds “god,”which means “good” and “ael” — “beer.” Medieval ale was stronger than usual beer and when the Crusaders brought in various spices, people started adding them to the drink — cinnamon, sage, lavender, juniper, laurel, raspberries, and many others.

Medieval ale was drunk by grown-ups and children alike as it had some nice qualities — it was nutritious and a good thirst quencher.

Medieval ale | MER blog

Wine

 

Medieval wine, as opposed to beer, was not that to almost everyone because grapes were not so accessible in the whole Europe. That’s why this alcoholic beverage was considered to be a drink for the rich and wealthy.

Mostly, medieval wines were produced in France and the Middeterenean, where grapes were in abundance. And just like with beer, wine was brewed by monks. They had all the necessary resources and knowledge to apply to verticulture, which also made it into a more expensive product. 

English people during the medieval period also tried to produce their own drink by mixing resin with their wines but miserably failed. The climate of the British Isles did not provide favourable conditions to glow grapes. That’s why it had to be imported from other regions of Europe.

Medieval wine - drink for the rich and wealthy

Cider

 

Medieval cider was also very popular with people across the European continent mostly because it was so easy to make. Apples were pressed in a cider mill or just simply stepped on, then pouring water over the crushed apples or apple juice and then cleared of seeds and stems. The drink was supposed to be drunk immediately as it didn’t have good preserving qualities. 

The half-sour, half-sweet taste of the drink and an easy way to produce it made medieval cider a good drink for people across Europe.

Medieval cider - good drink for people across Europe

Mead

 

Medieval mead, also known as honey wine, is a drink that was extremely popular across Europe due its accessibility and interesting diverse teste. This alcoholic drink could be sweet, semi-sweet, or even dry as well as strong and weak. And like cider, ale, and beer, mead was drunk by all segments of society. 

The process of producing mead was quite easy as it was made using honey, water, and fermented yeast. People could also add some other ingredients such as herbs (oregano, chamomile or lavender), spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, or cloves), hops, grain mash and various fruits (mostly raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry) , which could provide mead with diverse distinctive tastes.

Medieval mead | MER blog

Beer, ale, wine, cider, and mead are those medieval drinks that are so popular right now with people not only in Europe but across the world. Even though they are not accessible for everyone (for instance, children are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages), any person of legal age can taste these.

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