But, wait—yes I do.
And what isn’t to brag about a long-forgotten romance between beer and mead? The two have been courting each other since before Medieval times, lending their love to songs, sonnets and the chalices of kings and common folk alike. The epic love story may have stormed castles and conquered lands, but the courting of these two originated in ancient times when dating standards were much more clear-cut.
While their tryst has undergone some relationship changes since its Dark Ages, a braggot, at its core, is a beer and mead hybrid whose conjoining can occur at either of two times.The first chance for flirtation is when the honey (the star component of the creation of mead) is added sometime during the beer’s brewing process. Alternatively, if your particular braggot is traditional and wants to wait for the second date, a mead and beer can be combined at the apex of their creation, right before drinking.
The marriage between two delicious entities passes down all kinds of progeny. If enough hops are added during the brewing process, a braggot will take on some of beer’s more spicy qualities. The amount of honey or mead added to this potent mixture will instill sweeter attributes and push the braggot towards the honeywine category. Of course, the most interesting offspring of such fiery flings is the smoked braggot! As long as the original beer or malt is the source of the “smokiness,” the entwining result can display concurrent flavors of sweet, hoppy and smoky.
Craft breweries from around the U.S. have adopted a few of these interesting offspring. The Sam Adams Brewery has the lovely Honey Queen which, as the name suggests, walks daintily on the sweet side. For one of their side projects, Rogue Brewery created the Marionberry Braggot which, as its name suggests, is made with marionberries grown alongside hops, barley and honey in plots and apiaries at Rogue Farms.
Whether it’s extra honey or ripe berries grown right at home, a braggot has the ability to take on multiple characteristics passed down by its parents. This style of beer may have receded in the wake of the lately popular IPAs and stouts, but its versatility and willingness to compromise makes the braggot a tasty copulation of when opposites attract.
Makenzie Ladd, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits beer consultant
Follow me on Twitter @abcbeermakenzie