how to make mead like a viking

Channeling Odin: How to Make Mead Like a Viking

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Embarking on a homebrewing adventure marries the charm of yesteryears with today’s culinary passion. Among ancient brewmasters, the Vikings stand out, renowned not only for their epic sagas but also for their brewing prowess. So, how do you make mead like a Viking? It’s about blending raw honey, spring water, and wild yeast, then letting nature work its magic. As we explore ancient history, you’ll discover the simplicity of Viking methods and how to infuse their age-old traditions into your modern brew. Venture forth, and let’s craft a drink fit for Norse legends.

An Ancient Tradition Modernised: How Did Vikings Make Mead?

Long before homebrewing became a trendy hobby, ancient cultures were already masters of the craft. The Vikings, legendary sailors and warriors, were also astute brewers. Their passion wasn’t just confined to conquering lands; it extended to conquering the art of brewing the perfect mead. By exploring how to make mead like a Viking, it’s clear that the heart of their method was simplicity, relying heavily on nature’s bounty.

The Vikings didn’t have access to the sophisticated equipment modern brewers enjoy. Yet, they brewed mead that became the toast of their feasts and celebrations. So, how did Vikings make mead? They used what was around them: pure spring water, the sweet nectar of honey, and the omnipresent wild yeast that floated in the Nordic air. Without fuss or frills, these ingredients were combined, and the magic of fermentation began, turning the mixture into a golden, potent drink.

Today, as homebrewers, we’re often inundated with myriad techniques and tools. Yet, there’s an undeniable charm in revisiting these Viking methods. The lure isn’t just about replicating a recipe but about embracing an ethos – of simplicity, respect for raw ingredients, and letting nature take its course.

Understanding the Viking’s rudimentary yet effective approach can serve as a foundation. From here, you can layer on modern techniques and tools, marrying the best of both worlds. So, whether you’re a brewing novice or a seasoned expert, there’s much to learn and appreciate from these Norse legends.

Next, we’ll dive into a tailored recipe, blending ancient Viking techniques with today’s homebrewing advancements. Get your brewing kit ready; an epic adventure awaits!

Norse Inspired Homebrewing: Ancient Viking Mead Recipe for Your Kitchen

Travel back in time and infuse your modern homebrewing with the essence of the Vikings. This ancient Viking mead recipe combines simplicity and authenticity, offering a beverage rich in tradition and flavour.


  • 3 pounds (1.36 kg) of raw honey (preferably unprocessed)
  • 1 gallon (3.78 litres) of spring water
  • Optional: fruits like apples or berries, or herbs such as heather or juniper for additional flavour
  • Wild yeast captured from the environment or a packet of modern mead yeast for consistency


  1. Preparing the Must: In a large pot, gently warm the water. Gradually stir in the honey until it’s completely dissolved. Ensure the temperature remains below 60°C to preserve the honey’s natural aromas and enzymes. This mixture is known as the “must.”
  2. Cooling: Once your must is prepared, remove it from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature, which could take several hours.
  3. Flavour Infusion: Transfer the cooled must to a fermentation vessel, preferably a glass carboy or fermenting bucket. If desired, add in sliced fruits or herbs to introduce authentic Viking-inspired flavours.
  4. Yeast Introduction: If aiming for genuine Viking authenticity, leave the fermentation vessel (covered with a cloth) in a breezy area to catch wild yeast from the environment. This may take a few hours to 2 days—alternatively, pitch in your packet of mead yeast for a more predictable fermentation.
  5. Fermentation: Secure your vessel with an airlock to allow gases to escape without letting contaminants in. Let the mead ferment for about 3-6 weeks. You’ll notice bubbling during active fermentation, which will slow down as the fermentation nears completion.
  6. Racking: After primary fermentation, siphon the mead off the sediment into a clean vessel, leaving the sediment behind. This process, known as racking, ensures clarity and purity.
  7. Aging: Allow the mead to age for at least three months to a year for optimal flavour development. The longer it ages, the smoother and more refined it will become.
  8. Bottling: Once aged to your satisfaction, siphon the mead into bottles, leaving any sediment behind. Seal with caps or corks.
  9. Enjoying: Store your mead bottles in a cool, dark place. When ready, pour into a glass, toast the Vikings, and enjoy!

Using this detailed procedure, even a beginner in homebrewing can embark on a rewarding journey to craft a traditional Viking-inspired mead. With this blend of ancient art and modern technique under our belts, let’s explore how such age-old practices can guide our brewing.

Tips for Modern Brewers: Embracing the Viking Technique

How did Vikings Make Mead?
How did Vikings Make Mead?

Brewing mead, the nectar of the Vikings, is an enthralling journey that melds ancient wisdom with modern sophistication. For contemporary homebrewers eager to infuse Viking authenticity into their concoctions, blending time-honoured techniques with present-day brewing insights is key. Here are tips to guide your modern brew while echoing Viking traditions.

  1. Harness Natural Resources: Just as Vikings relied on nature’s bounty, prioritise locally sourced, organic ingredients. Local honeys, in particular, capture the essence of your surroundings, mirroring the Viking’s use of regional resources.
  2. Embrace Wild Fermentation: Modern brewers often depend on cultivated yeasts for predictability. Yet, the Viking spirit lies in embracing the unpredictability of wild yeast. Allow nature to influence your brew, but remember, it may demand patience and multiple attempts.
  3. Minimal Intervention: Vikings lacked modern tools, relying on basic equipment and intuition. Try brewing without sophisticated gadgets occasionally. This minimalistic approach can offer a purer connection to your mead.
  4. Experiment with Flavourings: Vikings infused their meads with available fruits, herbs, and spices. Experimenting with ingredients like juniper, heather, or lingonberries can transport your brew back in time.
  5. Age Gracefully: Aging was pivotal in Viking brewing. Modern brewers can embrace this by letting their mead mellow for extended periods, enhancing depth and complexity.
  6. Champion Eco-friendliness: Marrying the Viking respect for nature with today’s focus on sustainability can elevate your brewing ethos. Opt for eco-friendly practices, from sourcing to waste management, aligning with the broader vision of beer sustainability.

With these tips in hand, your venture into Viking-inspired brewing will not only celebrate ancient techniques but also resonate with modern best practices. As we forge ahead, let’s discover how this blend of old and new offers every homebrew enthusiast a sustainable, flavoursome future.


Embracing the Viking spirit in modern homebrewing unveils a realm where tradition meets innovation. To craft mead like the Norse legends, combine raw honey, spring water, and wild yeast, letting patience and passion shape the brew. Modern brewers can elevate their creations by harnessing local resources, endorsing wild fermentation, and emphasising beer sustainability. This fusion of Viking techniques with contemporary insights offers a roadmap for brewing that’s both historically rich and future-focused. Let the sagas of yore guide your hand as you meld past with present, creating brews that resonate with the epic tales of Norsemen. Skål!

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