10 Medieval Drinks That Became Modern

Discover 10 fascinating medieval drinks that have influenced modern beverages. Learn the history and evolution of ale, mead, cider, and more in this engaging guide.

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2. Beer: The Hops-Less Medieval Brew

table with glasses of beer and food

Or as medievals drank it, “the hops-less beer”. Medieval beer, before hops was mixed with it, was mixed with plenty of herbs and spices for preservation. Such a beer was called gruit, which is a German dialect for herb. It was still notoriously difficult to preserve, and much weaker and sweeter than today’s beer. It was also cloudy (because unfiltered) and had much less carbonation.

But it did not stop anyone. Polish peasants were known to drink up to 3 liters of beer per day while hacking away at the fields. They also possessed some great agriculture. Coincidence? Cheers!

Bavarians might have already put hops into beer as early as the 8th century, but it is unsure when the rest of Europe started making beer in that fashion. This “new” way of making beer was called “hopping beer”. And the Germans first developed the Purity Law (“Reinheitsgebot”) to filter out the cloudiness and gunk. In Germany today some still say beer is considered “liquid bread”, which originated in the Middle Ages.

A close hops-free beer for your medieval pleasure is the 13th century German Grut Bier still made today; it is made without hops and instead herbs, for preservation.