Braggot Ale is an ancient mead beer hybrid with references dating back to the 12th century. The Braggot recipe consists of honey, malt, yeast, hops, and any other fruits, herbs, or spices the brewer desires. There needs to be a balance between the honey and malt, with hop bitterness that is noticeable without overpowering the sweetness.
When choosing ingredients for a Braggot beer it is important to pick the ones that will best compliment each other and result in a delicious well-made brew. For honey, a good rule of thumb is to pick the highest quality one you can get your hands on, and then analyze the flavors to make sure they will blend well with the other ingredient flavors. According to the ancient Braggot recipe, paler malts were used, and sometimes carried a smoky quality with them from being dried over a burning fire.
With that being said, if you're trying to mimic traditional Braggots, choose paler malts, but brewers have the freedom to use whichever malt they desire. Yeast is tricky when it comes to Braggot beers because mead uses wine yeast and beers are made with ale, lager, or wild yeasts. To be Braggot yeast, it must have a tolerance to higher concentrations of alcohol, or it may only partially ferment leaving the beverage overly sweet and low in strength.
Braggot beer styles tend to be stronger with an ABV in the 6-12% range. Within this simple brew is a complexity of flavors that emerge when evenly blended giving accents of each flavor from the malt and honey, to the hops and any fruits or spices added in. They can range in flavor from lush and sweet like a dessert wine, or dry and tart like a sour beer. Most commonly people experience bitterness, spiciness, tanginess, earthiness, fruitiness, sweetness, and hints of chocolate, caramel, and of course honey.
As a sweet almost dessert-like beer, Braggot pairs well with sweets like cake and chocolate. The beer style should be drunk cold and out of a tulip glass. More craft breweries and meaderies are adding Braggot to their menus, especially as special or seasonal releases. Don’t pass them up next time you see one and instead give it a try.
We are very excited to feature this ale variety in our Beer of the Month Club!