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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: hamiltont on December 13, 2010, 07:54:15 PM

Title: Braggot Questions
Post by: hamiltont on December 13, 2010, 07:54:15 PM
Questions about brewing a Braggot.  I've been told that unless the Braggot base beer is of the "light" nature, such as a wheat, that it's just a waste of good honey because the honey won't be evident in something like a Porter. All I'll end up with is a strong, alcoholic Porter. Maybe that's true if the honey is added somewhere in the boil. So I thought, "What If?"

What if I brewed the beer & mead separately & blended them after they were fermented. Which means the mead would have to be done in advance of the beer of course.

Or

What if I brewed the beer first and when the fermentation was complete racked it to another fermenter, added the honey, nutrients and mead yeast and fermented it as a mead. Incorporating oxygen at this stage has me a bit concerned though.

In either case I'm thinking forced CO2 might be the safest and most consistent way to carbonate??

Thanks for your thoughts & ideas!!  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: ryang on December 13, 2010, 08:27:58 PM
Well, it seems like it has worked for others...

http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/ThanksCurt
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: gordonstrong on December 13, 2010, 08:46:34 PM
Depends on the variety of honey you use.  Strongly flavored honeys can work with dark beers.  Take a look at buckwheat honey, for instance.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: hamiltont on December 13, 2010, 09:00:35 PM
Depends on the variety of honey you use.  Strongly flavored honeys can work with dark beers.  Take a look at buckwheat honey, for instance.
Buckwheat does look interesting!!  Are you suggesting in the boil, say at flame out, or as a basic mead & blended? Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: gordonstrong on December 13, 2010, 09:07:56 PM
I wouldn't boil it, but the other two methods are fine.  Actually, last time I made a braggot, I didn't boil it at all.  I had liquid malt extract and didn't use hops, so I just blended the honey and the LME together, whipped the crap out of it with a mix-stir, and pitched my yeast.

I like being able to blend the final products so I can fine-tune the balance.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: hamiltont on December 13, 2010, 09:32:40 PM
Interesting!!  I have a few bottles of JAO mead I made a couple years ago. The orange & cinnamon in the JAO might blend well with a Sweet Stout or Oatmeal Stout. Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: mabrungard on December 13, 2010, 10:23:49 PM
Speaking of Honey, anyone thinking about using honey should visit the BJCP website and download the Mead Judge Study Guide.  It has incredible information on honey.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: jeffy on December 13, 2010, 10:28:53 PM
I've been told that unless the Braggot base beer is of the "light" nature, such as a wheat, that it's just a waste of good honey because the honey won't be evident in something like a Porter.
Not true.  I brewed a Baltic Porter braggot last year with orange blossom honey that placed first or second best of show for mead/cider in three or four competitions this year.  I had brewed a big batch of Baltic Porter, cooled most of it and pitched a lager yeast, then added honey to the remaining wort, cooled and pitched more lager yeast onto that.  I forced carbonated it for competitions.  It had a nice balance of orange blossom honey and roastiness from the malts.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: jaybeerman on December 13, 2010, 10:57:56 PM
1. I've been told that unless the Braggot base beer is of the "light" nature, such as a wheat, that it's just a waste of good honey because the honey won't be evident in something like a Porter.
2. Maybe that's true if the honey is added somewhere in the boil. So I thought, "What If?"
- What if I brewed the beer & mead separately & blended them after they were fermented.
3. In either case I'm thinking forced CO2 might be the safest and most consistent way to carbonate??

1. These folks haven't experimented enough to master the blending of must and wort.
2. I've found success with adding honey to wort fermentation just after high krausen. Also, you can add any portion of must you like, IMO a 50/50 mix just doesn't cut it.  Don't boil honey ever.
3. This is the only method I've used so I won't comment further on carbonation.

The thing that I was surprised by (I think most people would be too) is that adding honey to the wort fermentation can cause some of the previously unfermented grain components (complex sugars) to break down further.  This will especially be the case if you correctly manage your fermentation.  So let’s say you have a base beer that would have had a FG of 1.012, by adding honey (that hasn't been boiled) to the wort fermentation you can end up getting a FG of 1.001 or 2. Thus the braggot would have higher alc content and perhaps a bit of a drier feel than was expected.  I will say that, the majority of the homebrewed Braggot I’ve tasted (made by other brewers) was gnarly sweet and lacking in discernable honey character and that’s too bad, it turns people away from what can be delicious.  But with a little bit of planning and thought towards blending, anything is possible.  Cheers, j

[edit] in addition to the excellent help on this site you can read up on honey varieties at gotmead
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: hamiltont on December 14, 2010, 08:45:53 PM
Jay, When you say "IMO a 50/50 mix just doesn't cut it" would you start @ 25% wort & 75% must or just the opposite?

Thanks for all the good ideas & experiences!!  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 04:02:32 AM
Jay, When you say "IMO a 50/50 mix just doesn't cut it" would you start @ 25% wort & 75% must or just the opposite?

Thanks for all the good ideas & experiences!!  Cheers!!!

Well it does depend somewhat on the base beer, but in my experience, for my personal taste I've found that I always prefer over 50% of the fermentables to be from honey.  I've not gone as high as 75% must but could imagine that in some instances it might be fine.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: euge on January 27, 2011, 09:04:55 AM
So I've been working on clearing out my cellar for the new stock. Have at least a case of my only braggot (which I didn't like) and I'm drinking one. Been in the fridge for about a week. It's dark- about 18 SRM, effervescent, very dry and quite vinous. Born on 5/4/08 it's FG was 1.008 so I'm thinking it's coming into it's own. Went well with tater-tots. ;)

So I'm a bit confused. Are these beers meant to be on the sweeter side, and aged fo0r so long?
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: jaybeerman on January 27, 2011, 08:34:24 PM
So I've been working on clearing out my cellar for the new stock. Have at least a case of my only braggot (which I didn't like) and I'm drinking one. Been in the fridge for about a week. It's dark- about 18 SRM, effervescent, very dry and quite vinous. Born on 5/4/08 it's FG was 1.008 so I'm thinking it's coming into it's own. Went well with tater-tots. ;)

So I'm a bit confused. Are these beers meant to be on the sweeter side, and aged fo0r so long?


Perhaps that's how the style originated but I'm finding that when I use the honey addition to a wort fermentation in high krausen stage (or just following) that I get dry and very drinkable braggots.  I'm still aging a minimum of six weeks before consuming but that's very minimal compaired to 3 or 4 years.  So far I've produced 7% to 14% ABV braggots using beer yeast.  Even the 14% braggot was delicious at six weeks but shows signs that it would just get better and better (14 months old currently).  So the answer to your question is, it all depends.   
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: tumarkin on January 27, 2011, 08:45:08 PM
So I've been working on clearing out my cellar for the new stock. Have at least a case of my only braggot (which I didn't like) and I'm drinking one. Been in the fridge for about a week. It's dark- about 18 SRM, effervescent, very dry and quite vinous. Born on 5/4/08 it's FG was 1.008 so I'm thinking it's coming into it's own. Went well with tater-tots. ;)

So I'm a bit confused. Are these beers meant to be on the sweeter side, and aged fo0r so long?

Euge, think of it this way.... meads can range from bone dry to cloyingly sweet, and everything in between. I think of braggot as a mead with beer contributing up to 50% of the fermentables, whereas you can also have a beer with honey contributing some (usually) smaller portion of the fermentables. So the combinations can also cover a wide range. Braggots, like most mead, will generally benefit from aging. Beer with honey added may or may not benefit depending on style, gravity, etc.

Usually, you ferment the honey and beer fermentables together. But you can also take separately brewed mead & beer and combine them after the fact. This approach can actually give you a lot of control in getting the balance to your taste.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: euge on January 28, 2011, 01:54:55 AM
OK this is starting to make more sense. I've becomes quite the student of blending.  Suppose reading up on braggots would help too- huh? I didn't find much a few years back. Lol.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: corkybstewart on January 28, 2011, 02:04:50 AM
I've only brewed one braggot, about 5 years ago and it was from the second runnings of a porter.  I didn't take any gravity measurements, or any notes at all.  It was a brewing session that taught me lots of lessons, but the braggot turned out great.  I think it did but then it's the only braggot(homebrewed or commercial) I've ever tasted so what do I know.  A kegged it and drank 1/2  pints from it for 2 years, then bottled the remainder to free up the keg.  It's now been bottled for 3 years and is still delicious, but it's a very unusual flavor.
Title: Re: Braggot Questions
Post by: euge on January 29, 2011, 07:01:51 PM
I took a sixpack over to my friend whose palate is incredibly sensitive. His neighbor's parents homebrew so they are discerning beer drinkers. The hope is that I'll get some decent feedback.

I had him pour a bottle into a large red-wine goblet. His first taste elicited the comment oh it's sour! to which I replied so is that Shiner you've been guzzling... Keep drinking!

A few more sips and he started saying I get it now- I get it now... And it's heavy too! Kept going on about the legs- which are showing fairly well.

IIRC the OG was 1.058 and I know the FG was 1.008 so IMO it's not that heavy. He's probably confused by the carbonation and the crystal malts. But he likes it.

And I feel just a bit better.  :)