What Were the Drinks in Medieval Times?

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What Were the Drinks in Medieval Times?
People in the Medieval times often enjoyed a beverage during meals. (Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

During the Medieval times, or the Middle Ages, which lasted from the 5th century to the 15th century in European history, people lived quite joyous day-to-day lives despite the political, religious and military turmoil they had to endure. Average citizens raised families, worked for a living and enjoyed meals where delicious drinks were served.

Medieval people did not have clean water, so they quenched their thirst with drinks made from fruits and plants. Not far from the drinks of modern-day people, Medieval folks fermented beer, wine and other mouthwatering beverages to enable both sanitary and delicious concoctions for recreation.

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Besides river water, which tasted unpleasant, and milk, which failed to stay fresh for long, ale or beer became a common drink for the poor villagers of the Medieval times. Made mostly from barley soaked in water for a few days and then germinated into malt, ale took a long process and an intricate brewing system to make. However, ale did not cost much and tasted surprisingly pleasant, especially when people discovered spices such as sage, lavender and cinnamon to add to it.


Fermented with honey and water as a base, mead or honey wine often made a sweet and low-alcoholic drink to consume. To give mead more flavour, many producers added a variety of ingredients. Those with spices and herbs added became "methoglin;" those with fruits added became "melomel;" and those with grape juice became "pyment." According to medieval-life-and-times.info, a website dedicated to provide facts of the medieval culture, "consumption of weak, low-alcohol drinks at this time has been estimated at around one gallon per person per day." This made mead a very popular drink among the Medieval people.


Just like modern-day cider, people of the Medieval times made cider mainly from apples and sometimes pears. The fruits were extracted after maturing, squeezed for pulp and slowly fermented until they become ready for consumption. Other cider-making methods included pouring water onto the apples and then steeping them.

With a half-sweet and half-sour taste, cider was a popular drink among many people. According to drinkfocus.com, a website that provides facts and history on a variety of drink items, cider became so popular in the Medieval times that orchards were formed just to produce apple cider, and labourers earned a cider allowance as a portion of their wages.


Due to the chilly weather of England, grapes often did not ripen enough to produce wine. Though producers experimented with preserving the grapes, most of the wine was still imported from warmer countries such as Spain and Greece. People added ingredients such as honey and spices to the wine to create different flavours. Served at all three meals, wine was a common drink among the Medieval people but was mostly enjoyed by the wealthy.

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