Beer and Vikings
“It is said that when the Vikings were not being belligerent, they would drink beer with their friends.”
As of 500 AD, Vikings from what has been recorded drank a beer similar to mead called “mjöd”. Mjöd was made from fermented honey and grain, also called 'mead'. They also enjoyed another beer brewed from wheat and a variety of cranberry that was flavored with blueberries and honey.
Scholars have argued, for example, that the first domesticated cereals arrived in the inhospitable climate of Scandinavia as late as 700 AD, not for their food value but because the Norse found that they could make intoxicating liquor from them.
Vikings were huge beer drinkers. They would even stop mid-battle for a beer break, drink huge quantities of beer, and then rejoin the bottle "bare shirt" - armor and shirts removed. The Norse word berserk means "bare shirt" and this is where the term "going berserk" came from.
Some say that beer was introduced to the British Isles by the Vikings around the year 1000. It would be another 550 years before hops were used as a beer seasoning and another 100 years before their use was widespread.
In Viking mythology, the wife of the god Thor gives some aged mead to the god Loki. So Vikings considered aging as improving mead, as gods drank it aged. It must still have been drunk young (at the end of or during the fermentation), when it was still sweet.
The drinking of ale was particularly important to several seasonal religious festivals, of which the Viking Scandinavians celebrated three: the first occurring after harvest, the second near midwinter, and the last at midsummer. These festivals continued to be celebrated after the introduction of Christianity, although under new names. Historical records show that ale consumption at these festivals, even in Christian times, was quite important: the Gulaþing Law required farmers in groups of at least three to brew ale to be consumed at obligatory ale-feasts on All Saints (November 1 - Winternights), Christmas (December 25 - Yule), and upon the feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24 - Midsummer). More ordinary festivities, celebrated even today, are so closely associated with beer that they are known as öl ("ale") and include Gravöl (a wake, or "funeral ale"),Barnöl (a christening, or "child-ale") and taklagsöl (a barn-raising, or "roofing-ale")