Braggot is the perfect balance between a beer and a mead. It has lots of honey, a bunch of malted barley, spices and hops. I must admit, I’ve only made one batch of braggot (so far) as it is certainly not a “daily drinker” and a little goes a long way. My braggot rang in at a healthy 8% alcohol and is quite easy to drink but one glass is typically enough. This is actually a little bit light for a braggot as they typically occupy the wine-range of alcohol content, finishing as high as 14%.
Braggot is a logical progression from mead which is known to be one of, if not THE oldest alcoholic beverage. It was very popular in Europe until the 1800s when it fell out of fashion in favour of ales. The ingredients for braggot can include just about anything added to malted barley and honey. Hops, spices, fruit… anything goes! Typically a good braggot will have a balance between the various flavours with no dominant element but of course we brew what we like. If you want a braggot that punches you in the face with hops, nobody is going to stop you.
I first heard about braggot from a buddy in my beekeeping club. I may have mentioned that one of the benefits AND curses of beekeeping is having a buttload of honey to deal with. As my honey harvest grew, so did my desire for interesting ways of using it to enhance my life. Braggot has done exactly that, especially from the enjoyment I get from explaining what it is to my uninitiated friends.
Making braggot is very much like making beer with the exception that up to 60% of the fermentable sugars come from honey.
As a self-proclaimed honey connoisseur, I would be horrified to boil honey along with the malt and hops (much of the delicate flavours could be lost) so the honey is added to cooled wort. Another characteristic of braggot is the addition of any number of spices which is typically done during secondary fermentation.
Braggot can be carbonated or still but I prefer lightly carbonated as the effervescence helps bring out the flavours of the honey and spices. Additionally, serving in a wine glass seems appropriate due to the high alcohol content and the complex flavours. This is not a brew to be chugged.
Makes 4 litres, OG: 1.062
166g pale ale DME
66g dark DME
700g dark honey
30g whole leaf hops
2.5g D47 yeast
1 cinnamon stick
1g black peppercorns
0.5g whole cloves
- Boil malt extracts in about 5 liters of water for 60 minutes
- Add 15g hops to the boil at 60min and the other 15g at 30min
- Cool wort below 70C and stir in 700g dark honey
- Cool to 30C and pitch ½ pack of white wine/mead yeast
- Transfer to carboy for secondary fermentation when gravity reaches 1.020
- Add cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves to carboy and mix
- When fermentation is complete (stable gravity reading for 3 days) transfer to a clean bucket
- Add 25g corn sugar for priming and stir to dissolve
- Bottle into swing-top or capped beer bottles and leave at room temperature for 1 week before chilling