The Viking Mead & History

The Viking Mead & History

The alcohol the Vikings use to drink during those turbulent times were vast but a few ones tuck out as commonly consumed. The start of the when it began gave rise to commonly used recipes to make them. Once you get past the definition and what the starting ingredients its time to start being adventurous.

Norse Tradesmen explains that , "Mead is by definition fermented honey water. Add water to honey and it will literally ferment on its own (provided you’re using clean, non-chlorinated water and raw, unpasteurized honey) due to the yeasts and fermentation-enhancing microbes that occur naturally in honey". A very simples start to a very delectable and easy to make beverage, but sill the Viking variation is not so simple. They continue stating ,"Wild yeast gets a bad rap in modern homebrewing. Because commercial yeast strains have been developed in laboratories for specific flavor profiles and other parameters, brewers are encouraged to sanitize excessively and bring mead to high heat levels (and then cooling) before adding yeast to kill off any wild yeast or other microbes.


Traditionally, the entire goal would have been to keep these yeasts and microbes alive, as they wanted to harness these “brew spirits” for a strong fermentation. There’s nothing wrong with using wild yeast in a modern fermentation – as a matter of fact, it can make for a more interesting and intimate experience."

The wild fermentation is done as follows as your own risk

To initiate a wild fermentation you’ll need the following equipment and ingredients:

  • An open-mouthed vessel at least a quart in size (glass jars or ceramic crocks are best)

  • A wooden stir stick

  • A clean cheesecloth, towel or t-shirt large enough to cover the opening of the vessel

  • 1/2 cup of raw, unfiltered honey

  • 2 cups spring water

  • Any organic fresh or dried berries, grapes or plums (just a few, primarily for their natural yeast)

  • A small bunch of any wild, unsprayed botanical such as wildflower (violets and dandelions are good) petals (no greens!) as an optional additional source of wild yeast and nutrients

Now for the actual way to make it

At this point you have a mead starter, which you can then use in place of packaged yeast to start a new mead. Alternatively, skip this process and use a commercial yeast designed for semi-sweet or fruit wines such as Lalvin D-47 or Lalvin 71-B.




For one gallon:


  • 1 oz. dried juniper berries
  • 1 oz. dried hibiscus flowers or 2 oz. fresh
  • .5 oz. meadowsweet
  • .5 oz. yarrow
  • 1 quart (about 2.3 pounds) wildflower honey
  • 1 gallon spring water
  • 4-5 raisins
  • 1/4-1/2 cup wild mead starter or 1 packet (5 g) of Lalvin D-47 or Lalvin 71-B


For five gallons:


  • 5 oz. dried juniper berries
  • 5 oz. dried hibiscus flowers or 10 oz. (around 2 cups) fresh
  • 3 oz. meadowsweet
  • 3 oz. yarrow
  • One gallon + 1 quart (15 pounds) wildflower honey
  • 5 gallons spring water
  • 15-20 raisins
  • 1-2 cups wild mead starter or 1 packet (5 g) of Lalvin D-47 or Lalvin 71-B


Its clear the Viking had flavors in their mead as much as they could like when they season their food.


1. Norse Tradesman. “Viking Mead Recipe.” Norse Tradesman,


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