Braggot: The Beer You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.
We all know that feeling; you stop by your local taphouse, looking for something new and interesting, and it’s all IPAs and Hefeweisens. There’s not much there you haven’t already tried. You feel listless, lost in a sea of gold and brown, knowing that there’s something more out there, but unable to articulate this longing. This need for change.
The thing that we love the most about craft brewing is the variety that it produces. Brewers all across the country are working on reviving old styles of beer that fell by the wayside during the industrialization of brewing. Now that brewers are finding that small batch brewing and meticulous attention to quality are financially viable, they’re stepping up to the plate.
One of these revived brews is braggot. Braggot dates back to medieval Great Britain, and came in a few different styles. Some were mead brewed with ale wort, while others were just ale and mead mixed together at the bar. Often herbs and flowers were blended in for flavor and aroma. Braggot was even mentioned in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales:
“Her mouth was sweet as bragget or as mead Or hoard of apples laid in hay or weed.”
-GEOFFREY CHAUCER, THE CANTERBURY TALES
What’s extraordinary about modern braggots is that we now have access to varietal honeys for brewing, and each kind of honey has different flavors and aromas, and each has a complex profile that must be matched to the other ingredients in the brew. Modern brewers have a level of control over their braggot today that simply wasn’t possible back then.
Most modern braggots are brewed together in one batch, but some are still blended post-brewing.
Rogue Ales: Rogue Farms Marionberry Braggot
If you’re in Portland, you might want to take a trip south to Newport for this unusual braggot. It has earned a Beer Advocate score of 3.75. The color may be strange to most beer drinkers, a kind of cloudy purple brown, but it boasts a sweet taste with a hint of sourness and a tannic presence. Its aroma is winey, and it has notes of dried fruit. Don’t have too many, this beer packs a whopping 11.42 ABV.
Twisted Pine Brewing Company: West Bound Braggot
This beer can be hard to find, as it’s a part of Twisted Pine’s Artisan Series. But if you make it out to this Boulder, CO brewery at the right time, you might just be able to get yourself a sip. Color is an opaque bright gold, and the beer has a thin head with minimal to no lacing. The aroma is best described as sweet, with a lot of fruit and a little mustiness. The beer has sweetness, and strong citrus flavors, imparted by both the orange blossom honey and other ingredients. Finish is complex as the spices come out. The heavy mouthfeel is lightened by this beer’s strong carbonation.
Trinity Brewing: Hopped Toddy
Also in Colorado, Trinity Brewing offers this beer. It’s darker than the Twisted Pine, amber in color, and slightly cloudy. The aroma is of honey and herbs, but the taste is much more complex. Hints of caramel and toasted cereal grains are inescapable. The beer is slightly tart, with a pleasantly light herbal finish.
Mountain Sun Brewery: Hummingbird
In Boulder, CO, the Mountain Sun Brewery offers this braggot. It earned a Beer Advocate score of 4.03, and is the highest rated of our suggestions in this category. Orangeish amber in color, with better clarity than our previous entries. Medium head with strong lacing. Aromas of pear and bread, with unmistakable floral hops. The flavor is sweet up front, with complex spice notes. Finishes clean.
So if mead is a little too sugary for you, but IPAs are just a little too bitter, try a braggot. It might just hit your sweet spot.