Were Medieval People Really Drunk On Beer And Wine All The Time?

A popular theory claims that medieval Europeans didn't have access to clean water. As a result, they were forced to drink wine and beer, since alcoholic beverages were safer than water. Even babies and children drank wine to protect them from the dangers of waterborne illnesses. But were medieval people drunk all the time from avoiding water?

Turns out the myth is completely false. In fact, water was the most common drink in medieval Europe. Medical texts recommended methods for finding the best water sources, and city planners devised elaborate ways to bring fresh water into cities. Doctors even prescribed mineral water to cure diseases like kidney stones. 

Of course, wine and ale were also incredibly popular during the medieval period, and people did get hangovers from overindulging. In fact, 12th-century doctors recommended treating a hangover by drinking water. But most medieval ales were much weaker than today's beers, and people often mixed wine with water to dilute its strength. While contaminated water could spread diseases, medieval people definitely didn't avoid water completely.