In the world of homebrewing, there are some brews that get interesting reactions when you tell people about them. Braggot is one – in part because there is some disagreement about the real name – is it braggot, bracket, bracken…? I’ve seen all of them used. Then there is the description – pale? amber? dark? could be any of the three… The mystery is complicated by the fact that it is a hybrid brew – part strong ale, part mead.
Another part of the braggot puzzle is the need to age it well. A new, “raw” braggot just doesn’t really taste great. Oh, it’s drinkable after a month or so, but it really needs a long cool settling period. The braggot I am brewing today will probably be approaching “ready” around Groundhog Day, and be “good” next fall. Patience and perseverance are required to enjoy a properly made braggot.
Dark Sky Braggot 2010
5 gallons, grain and honey brew
- 6 lbs. Maris Otter 2-row pale malt
- 1 lb. 20°L crystal malt
- 1 lb. honey malt
- 1 lb. Belgian Coffee/Special roast malt
- 5.5 lbs. honey
- 1 oz. Bravo hop pellets (11.3% aa)
- 1 oz. Sovereign hop pellets (5.7% aa)
- White Labs Australian Ale yeast (WLP009)
- 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)
Crush grains. Heat 12 quarts water to 167°F, mash in grains and hold 60 minutes at 155°F. Heat another 12 quarts water to 170°F, begin runoff and sparge. Collect 22 quarts of sweet wort. Add honey to kettle, along with a quart of hot tap water to rinse out honey container, stir well. Heat wort to boiling. Add Bravo hops, boil 45 minutes. Add Sovereign hops, boil 15 minutes and remove from heat. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 70°F for ten to fourteen days. Rack to secondary, age cooler (55°F) for six to eight weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and condition cool (45 – 50°F) for at least eight weeks.
Notes on style: True braggot should be about 50% malt and 50% honey – although that is not carved in stone. The BJCP guidelines really leave it wide open as far as color, strength, bitterness, balance, etc…
Notes on ingredients: Aiming to drink this brew in the dark cold months of winter, I opted to make it a darker brew, using the Coffee roast malt as the main coloring adjunct. At 165 – 175°L, this dark Belgian specialty malt gives a really nice dark caramel flavor and undelines the sweetness of the honey. The honey malt is kilned to about 25°L, and also contributes a sweet, nutty malt flavor. Your homebrew shop can get them both from Brewcraft in Oregon.
Notes on yeast: I was looking for a yeast that worked quickly and at relatively warm temperatures, since I am brewing in July. The Australian yeast is reputed to start quickly, finish quickly and not add a noticeable yeast flavor, but instead promotes a bready malt aroma and flavor.