Aegir, the Norse Ruler of the Sea who brew the Best Beer in all the Nine Worlds

One of the most important figures in Norse mythology was Aegir or Ægir. Loved and feared as the Commander of the Sea, he also earned great respect among the Germanic tribes as brewer for the Gods of Asgard. His huge underwater feast hall was the one place where the Gods couldn’t fight (normally their favorite way to pass the time), or they’d be bannished from Aegir’s Hall forever. A serious punishment since the place had drinking-horns that magically refilled themselves with the best ale and mead in the Nine Worlds.

Aegir (in some places named Hlér or Gymir) technically wasn’t a God, but a Giant. The Germanic tribes had their own version of the Ancient Greek Battle of the Titans, which contained three parties. The two clans of Gods (Aesir and Vanir) and the Giants (Jötunn) were constantly quarreling and fighting with each other, just like the Vikings and Saxons who worshipped them. The one place where the divine creatures had to act civilized was Aegir’s Hall. The host was also the only Giant that had a good relationship with the Gods, probably because beer and mead were his domain.

The entrance of this party place was said to be somewhere at the coast  of the “Isle of Hlér”, nowadays known as Læsø, which is located in Denmark. Since it was built under the sea no fire would burn inside Aegir’s Hall, so the light and warmth came from pure gold on the floor in the middle of  the room. The place was decorated with coral and gems, as well as the wealth plundered of sunken ships, while mermaids looked after the needs of the guests.

Aegir and his daughters brewing beer for the Norse Gods.

Aegir and his daughters brewing beer for the Norse Gods.

Aegir himself, a skinny old man with long white hair, was an amazing host. Assisted by his servants Fimafeng and Eldir his hospitality knew no limits. Literally since empty plates and drinking-horns were automatically refilled with the best stuff you can imagine. The wisest of all Gods, All-Father Odin, had said that Aegir’s beer was the best of all the Nine Worlds. The Master of the Sea made this homebrew together with his 9 daughters in the biggest kettle ever made. The size of this kettle is not the same in all stories, but usually it was said to be one mile (1.6 km) deep  and one mile wide.

This huge brewer vat came into Aegir’s possession when the Gods once sat down for a feast meal and the table stayed more or less empty. When they asked Aegir where the banquet was, he said he could not serve them food without beer and he had nothing to brew with. Then Thor, the God of Thunder, went on a mission to steal this huge kettle from the Giant Hymir and gave it to Aegir as a present. Since that moment there has never been a shortage of ale in the famous subsea hall.

Aegir may have been portrayed as a kind, old man and the only Giant who was nice to the Gods, but he could be ruthless as well as master of the sea. Whenever a ship sank, it was said that the sailors were ‘dining in Aegir’s Hall’. The Vikings, who roamed the coasts of Europe with their ships, had deep respect for the Ruler of the Ocean and the Saxons had a custom to sacrifice 1/10th of their victims to assure a calm sea after a raid. But all Germanic tribes were also great beer drinkers. And maybe that’s why they respected Aegir, master brewer of the Gods, the most.

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