Beer is expensive. Well not crazy expensive, but having lived near and around London most of my life I didn’t know beer could be an affordable beverage until I moved to the northern wildlands – which helped with university life. Now there are slight regional variations, such as pub in London being much more likely to be serving up some Camden brewed pale-ale (like this, which is pretty good), whilst a pub in North Yorkshire will be more likely to offer up a local amber-ale or something, which vary in quality but are cheap so this has my seal of approval.
Now that brings me to the main topic of this article if beers are cheaper as you move north… how cheap is beer in Skyrim? Yeah, a bit of a jump from Yorkshire to the land of Skyrim but just how expensive is beer in Skyrim?
The most comparable beverage would be the Ale, commonly available throughout Skyrim, although there exist alternates such as Afro Wine and Ashfire Mead. But I believe Ale to be the most logical comparison.
So looking at the ‘stats’ of Ale in Skyrim we can see that it has a base value of 5 Septim and a weight of 0.5 feathers? So is that an SI unit? Having consulted the NPL website, no, no it is not. Because of this shocking revelation I am going to make the assumption that 0.5 feathers are equal to 0.5 kg, this would make sense as a pint of beer is 568 ml which roughly equating the density of beer to water would give it a weight of 0.568 kg, and given the fact most ale bottles come in 500 ml size, would give a weight of 0.5 kg.
Having made this assumption we can now try to work out the value of the Septim. There are a few ways we could probably do this, such as working out the earnings of the average citizen of Skyrim and then comparing the proportion of wages needed to buy an ale compared to the current UK average, and thus the relative value of the Septim… kinda. Alternatively, we can use the price of gold in Skyrim to compare to current global markets to find a comparison.
For the sake of ease, because it would be hard to estimate the income of a Skyrim citizen, we will go with the gold comparison. This comparison will not be necessarily accurate because the only reason gold is so valuable in our world is its scarcity and the fact that people place value in it for jewellery and other aesthetic reasons (although I know it is used in some functional processed also). In Skyrim, this appears to be true with ‘high society’ folk such as the High King wearing what seems to be gold. But with many other cool ores and materials in the land and the fact that gold doesn’t seem to be that scarce.
The scarcity of gold in the real world is caused by two factors: the production of gold through mining, and the keeping of reserves. The mining of gold ore, in reality, differs greatly from Skyrim (obviously) because once a vein of ore is depleted it’s gone. This is why there was the Gold Rush with miners desperately looking for the next vein to make their fortune. The second factor, the reserving of gold is often carried out by wealthy individuals and governments. This is to protect their currencies credibility. In Skyrim, this is not necessarily the case despite the wealthy having plenty of gold items, with gold ore veins replenishing after one month in game time. This means that there is no upper limit on the amount of gold possible to produce. Instead, this just limits the rate of production. This would mean also that if the currency of Skyrim was based on gold it would likely inflate.
So, now the real crux of what I wanted to do here. With these inaccuracies considered, let’s compare the price of Skyrim gold to real gold. The price of gold in Skyrim will be taken from ‘Ingot’ which is a block of gold, in Skyrim, this weighs 1 feather, so using the previous assumption we will estimate this to be 1 kg. The price for this bar is 100 Septim. In real life, the price of gold is around $41,000 per kg (from the table above taken from here). So, that means that 1 Septim is equal to $410 or £310 (with current exchange rates).
So the price of beer in Skyrim? well, roughly £1550 – it better be bloody good!
The biggest takeaway here is that gold in Skyrim is dirt cheap. In fact, with this mod which gives the Septim a weight of 6.5g instead of zero we can see that it’d be more profitable to just use your gold ingot to make gold coin as you would be able to craft around 150 coins instead of the optimal sale price of 100 gold coins.
Okay, so let’s try the other previous method mentioned and estimate the total wealth of an average Skyrim citizen. To do this we will take shopkeepers and vendors from Windhelm, as we can see their gold levels. Windhelm was selected also because it has purchasable property, and so it will also be assumed that the citizens have a property of equal value (12,000 Septims).
The average across this rag-tag bunch is 825 Septim. Assuming this is an average yearly salary, and their average property value is 12,000 Septim, this makes their average yearly salary around 7% of their property value. In the UK currently, the average wage is £27,600 and the average property value is £223,257, meaning that yearly wages are equal to around 12% of property value. Now let’s look at the real metric, beer! For our lovable band of merchants, a nice ale on a Saturday night will set them back 0.6% of their yearly earnings, or 30% of their weekly earnings. In reality, luckily things are better with a beer only costing around 0.9% of weekly earnings.
Okay, so things were crazy expensive in Skyrim times. But what if a citizen of Skyrim had our knowledge, and decided (assuming Skyrim was in the past, which it is not in the lore… but just trying to put a positive spin on Skyrim life) to invest their yearly earnings into gold. If we assumed the citizen bought 52 loafs of bread, one for each week, they would be left with 721 Septim, enough to buy 7 kilograms of gold, with enough left over for 4 celebratory ales. In today’s terms, this would be around £200,000 so hurray, having survived a transition between universes, and lived solely from bread for an entire year they can nearly afford an average home in the UK.
So, what have we learnt from my incredibly roughly estimated and butchered calculations? Living in Skyrim is tough. It may seem all magic and wonder with beautiful scenery, but for the everyday town folk, not making their living through plunder like your ‘brave adventurer’, there exists a tough life where bread costs 10% of the weekly income which is comparable to historic bread prices. Also, spare a thought for those poor souls in the various taverns of Skyrim, either they are rich enough to afford a couple of beers to get drunk, or they have been sipping the same beer for hours and pretending to be drunk so that the town folk think they’re rich.
Oh, and the cheapest drink available to buy in Skyrim? Ale.