Beer and Weddings Linked for Thousands of Years

Bride Keg StandThis morning I happened upon an article on that caused me to pause for a moment. Never before today did I know the long-time link between weddings and beer.

These days, when people think of weddings, Champagne or sparkling wine are usually the beverages that come to mind, not beer. However, through history, beer has a lot more to do with weddings than many of us might know.

The word “bridal,” for example, actually comes from “Bride-Ale,” which refers to a special beer brewed just for the wedding. What’s more, guests traditionally gave wedding presents in exchange for the special brew.

Even the honeymoon tradition is based in beer. 4,000 years ago, in Babylon, the father of the bride traditionally supplied a month’s supply of mead (best described as a honey beer) to the groom for a lunar month. The idea behind this is that the beer supposedly gave the new couple a greater chance of producing a son. Apparently, the bride would retire to the chamber alone on their wedding night, giving her groom time to sit and enjoy his mead. Once he was warm and toasty from imbibing in his honeyed beer, he would be brought to the wedding chamber to his bride. If a son was born nine months later, the brewer of the beer would receive gifts and praise from the entire family.

Hope I’ve added a new wrinkle to your brain this fine Friday morning.



1 Comment

  • Dan November 19, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Ha! I was actually thinking about posting this article from beer historian Martyn Cornell to the CBW Facebook/Twitter accounts (you can tell he’s the real deal because his name has a Y where an I should be):

    “Bridal” does come from “bride-ale”, in Anglo-Saxon brýd-ealo, but “ale” was being used here in its secondary sense of “a festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk” (just as “tea” means both the drink and – as in “afternoon tea” or “high tea” – the meal). By the 14th century “bridal” had come to mean the whole proceedings of the wedding or marriage, and it eventually became used, through misanalysis of the “-al” element, as the adjective for things to do with brides, as in “bridal gown”. But until Elizabethan times, or a little later, “ale” still mean “festival” or “celebration” as well as alcoholic drink, and “bride-ale” still meant the whole wedding shebang.

    So, sort of.

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