Additionally, how many meals and/or drinks would they serve per day on average?

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    $\begingroup$ How big is the tavern? A bar with a small kitchen and two tables is going to have fewer patrons than a large tavern. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 21:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There are a lot, a lot of assumptions to get close to an answer. Care to narrow this down? $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ Also, when in the "medieval era"? That's a period of nearly a thousand years, from the late 400s to the mid-1400s CE. At the beginning of that period, the closest thing to a tavern would either be a lodging house or a small building attached to a brewery. By the end, you had public houses. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ Also, are you looking for an answer with sources? It can help narrow the field a bit, too $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 21:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Prior to the Black Death in England, for instance, any peasant woman would be an alewife when she made a batch of ale. She would make more than she needed and sell the rest ad hoc. Taverns chiefly stemmed from the increase of wages in the immediate wake of the Black Death. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


Western and central Europe only, middle to late middle ages only. That is still half a millennium and a lot of different places, so the answer is generic.

There were small taverns, there were large taverns, there were small inns, there were large inns. Some had a few dozen customers per day, some had hundreds.

Revelry at an inn by Jan Steen

Reverly at an inn by Jan Steen, second half of the 17th century. Post-medieval, and set in the great hall of an inn instead of a tavern, but close enough.

In the western world, taverns and inns would sell a lot of ale (= sort of beer) and wine; even a not-very-large tavern would expect to sell tens of gallons (at least a hundred liters) of ale or wine per day; a large tavern could go through several barrels of ale or wine in a day. Medieval taverns did not sell wine by the "drink", by rather by the jug, which would be one or two liters in modern units; beer was sold by the tankard, between half a liter (one pint) and a liter (two pints).

Note that in wine-producing countries beer was not drunk during the Middle Ages; on the other hand, wine was imported in large quantities in England and other such not-wine-producing lands.

It is hard to get a correct idea of the prices, because most prices were in silver, and the price of silver crashed after the discovery of the New World. (The western and central European Christian nations did not have any functional gold currency in the Middle Ages; only the shrinking Roman Empire and the Islamic world did.) To form an idea, a gallon (4 liters) of wine could be about 4 to 6 grams of silver (1/8 to 1/5 oz), which would be about 3 to 4 dollars or euros in 2023 money; beer was less than half that, but beer was not popular at all in places where wine grapes grow. (Keep in mind that silver was much more valuable in the Middle Ages, so a better approximation would be maybe 9 to 12 dollars.)

While taverns did sell food, it was not their main business. (But remember that beer was food in the Middle Agesl; a person could drink a gallon, or 4 liters, of ale per day.) The food sold at taverns was mostly bread and cheese, with the occasional roasted meat. People who did not eat at home bought food from street vendors. Inns did sell food as a main business, mostly for the people lodged there.

In the Islamic world inns did not sell alcoholic beverages. I don't even think they had taverns comparable to the western world; they did have inns, and the inns did sell food.


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