[Rather than drinking the water, people – including children – in past times preferred an alcoholic drink. But that does not mean they drank excessively. Drunkenness became more of a problem with the introduction of distilled drinks such as whiskey after the fifteenth century.]

“Small beer (also, small ale) is a beer/ale that contains very little alcohol. Sometimes unfiltered and porridge-like, it was a favoured drink in Medieval Europe and colonial North America as against the more expensive beer with higher alcohol. Small beer was also produced in households for consumption by children and servants.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_beer>


“Small beer was likely consumed when fresh water was not easily available. It was not uncommon for workers (including sailors) who engaged in heavy physical labor to drink more than 10 imperial pints (5.7 litres) of small beer during a workday to slake their thirst. Small beer was also drunk because it contained precious calories, and might even have bits of wheat or bread suspended in the drink.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_beer>