Dead Vikings Got Endless Beer from Goats
This piece originally appeared on VinePair.
Good news if you identify with Viking religious beliefs (and it turns out a bunch of people in Iceland actually do): when you die, assuming you lived a pillaging and conquesting kind of life, you go to Valhalla and get an endless supply of beer. Bad news if you identify with Viking religious beliefs: you’ll have to get that beer out of the udders of a magical goat. But then, you’re a Viking, so that’s probably par for the hardcore course.
Yes, in addition to their panoply of lightning- and hammer-wielding gods and some pretty special practices (maybe human sacrifice, definitely skiing), Vikings believed that warriors who went to Valhalla would be rewarded with an endless supply of (we assume) quality beer, dispensed from the udders of a goat. We’re not sure whether the goat udders would give the beer that kind of barnyard funkiness, but either way, it still seems like a good deal.
Before we commit ourselves to any new religious practices (like, would we HAVE to necessarily die in battle? Maybe after a hot dog eating contest?), a bit of context. Valhalla, or “Hall of the Slain,” is a kind of grand hangout spot for fallen warriors (half of them, chosen by Odin; the other half go to Folkvangr, a heavenly field run by the goddess Freyja which we can only assume is like an eternal Burning Man for Viking warriors). If you’re chosen to go to Valhalla, you get to enjoy Odin’s hospitality, which includes endless beer from Heiðrún, a magical goat who consumes the foliage of the Laeraor tree and produces beer. From her udders.
Some accounts have her producing mead, a honey-based wine (and likely among the earliest fermented beverages), but either way, there’s booze in it for you if you die honorably in battle.