First Braggot!

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Kyzaboy89

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It's been a long time coming and a dream of mine to create the beverage of vikings I've imagined since I was a kid watching Kirk Douglas in the classic film "Vikings."
Personally I've never cared for beer, or at the very least any I have ever tried, and yet the aroma and flavor I imagine is close to a honey ale but what I would consider tastier. Sweet bread, crackers, biscuits, honey bran, oatmeal, nuts, muffins, honey... All these things have a hint of what I imagine a braggot being and after enough research and studying I'm taking the dive. Most commercial or homebrew braggots I've had were simply a hoppy or bitter beer with some fermented honey. However I favor semi sweet beverages that tend to be middle of the road for most people I've interacted with, semi sweet meads for me being in the range of 1.012-1.020 usually when finished. I like fruity mixed drinks as well as Scotch, whiskey and rum on ice but have yet to find a hop flavor I liked.

So this is going to be a raw ale style experiment without hops or anything to complicated until I get the feel for grains. I considered extracts for a while but I enjoy growing things for brew out of my wife's garden, or hope to very soon, so it can be more of a brew it yourself situation. One day we hope to have a garden/food forest setup and retire with everything in place. Anyhow the plan is to try and make a raw ale, after it ferments out, 5-7 days is the plan, I'll add honey and ferment as a mead with the raw ale. Once it's finished I want to cold crash, transfer, collect and wash the yeast and see how it ages or any other quality change. The goal is to create a recipe that can be brewed consistently and continuously, much like a house cider reusing the yeast and barrel once it's been racked.

That's the hopes and plans but I know all to well how it can go so it's going to be a learning experience either way. If I can't get something I like in the next ten years I might reevaluate things, until then I hope you enjoy the ride. And feel free to shout newbie at the screen when I make a bonehead decision but I'm ultimately going to try things in a manner I think might work or make sense and learn the hard way. Any thoughts or constructive criticism is welcome.

Cheers!
 

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cmac62

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For the honey part of the process, I'd check out this: Bray's One Month Mead and with some of the keveik yeasts it can be even quicker. It depends on how much alcohol you want. Also, I would do all of the fermentation together. I don't think adding the honey after the beer fermented will help the process any other than adding steps and opportunity for oxidation and infection. You may also want to check out this thread: The Gruit Beer Thread . I know for me beer with no bitterness does not sound good. There are a lot of options, but honey is pretty antimicrobial by itself so may not need that from the hops, but something to bitter it a little may be helpful. A braggot can be more ale like or more mead like Obviously you are leaning in the mead like direction. I'd guess a good option would be to start with about 2/3 fermentalbes as honey. Good Luck with your brew. :mug:
 
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Kyzaboy89

Kyzaboy89

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Haha don't worry, I think I was online back when they made Bray's thread a sticky and everyone has been sent there ever since. Don't get me wrong I love it, made it many times and the man knows his business. I have had 1388 on hand for years and I use it confidently enough throughout the year. I understand the oxydizing issues may happen but there's going to be plenty of CO² that I'm not worried but who knows, I may learn something. My tastes towards beer is everything is either sweet or bitter with very little in the way of a happy medium. A braggot should bring to light the best of both ale and mead, I prefer both sweeter than what is usually available thus venturing out to make what I've always wanted. The kveik yeast and gruit beer styles have been sampled and from what I can say, at the present neither or for me. One day maybe but for now not so much, a few locals have brewed such beverages to great appeal in our little community but as for my own tastes I'm not a fan.
 

Ty520

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I would recommend fermenting the honey and malt together.

Technically, the only defining characteristic of a Braggot is that it should be "50/50 malt and honey" and exhibit a good balance of character between the two, neither domineering the other; hopping is optional and most modern brewers add it just because it is the preferred taste of the modern palette

a gruit is technically defined as a "spiced or herbed ale" - hops being one herb option prior to hops being codified. At the time, honey was often used simply because it was more accessible than refined sugar, but it wasn't codified. Prior to the 16th century, most ales were still un hopped; when the dutch began sweeping the world, and introducing their preference for use of hops, they began differentiating English un hopped style as "ale" and Dutch hopped style as "beer."
 
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Kyzaboy89

Kyzaboy89

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I would recommend fermenting the honey and malt together.

Technically, the only defining characteristic of a Braggot is that it should be "50/50 malt and honey" and exhibit a good balance of character between the two, neither domineering the other; hopping is optional and most modern brewers add it just because it is the preferred taste of the modern palette

a gruit is technically defined as a "spiced or herbed ale" - hops being one herb option prior to hops being codified. At the time, honey was often used simply because it was more accessible than refined sugar, but it wasn't codified. Prior to the 16th century, most ales were still un hopped; when the dutch began sweeping the world, and introducing their preference for use of hops, they began differentiating English un hopped style as "ale" and Dutch hopped style as "beer."
Ty520, I've read and agree with the history in your post and that's actually what I enjoy doing most, recreating or coming close to historical practices wear it's practical.

The defining characteristics of a braggot I also concur with and that's another thing I'm going for, a nice blend of both ale and mead. As for bittering I'm not oppose to bitter flavor all together, I believe it plays an important part in a well rounded beverage. I simply don't enjoy food and drink where bitterness is the highlight and main characteristic I can taste. As for hops I've sniffed and sampled every kind in my LHBS and anything I can get my hands and taste buds on, simply not my flavor, like mustard... can't do it.

My gravity is a little low so I'm going to double check a few things and most likely add a little honey. A tradition of braggot like beverages, I read somewhere, was historically they would take old ale that wasn't bad yet and referment it with honey and/or spices. Kind of what I was going to try first as I know I can add honey at pitch or after mash and go that route and I plan to do both to compare if anything is different. I am not expecting it to be very different if at all but this is the best part of experimenting, if it's to crazy go ahead and try it but understand why and how it may fail and go to waste.
 
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Kyzaboy89

Kyzaboy89

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Dang, you've been doing this stuff a lot longer that me. I hope it turns out as you hope. Don't forget to post when you get it done. :mug:
Yeah, I think I started in '11 and joined HBT in '13 or '14... Making me feel old now haha alot has changed and it's nice to see things come and go but the community being helpful is what I like. To many keyboard warriors have pushed me to go offline now and then, who needs that in their life.

I intend to keep y'all updated as I can and if I get something good I'd love to see it replicated by others just to know I didn't get lucky.
 

Ty520

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Ty520, I've read and agree with the history in your post and that's actually what I enjoy doing most, recreating or coming close to historical practices wear it's practical.

The defining characteristics of a braggot I also concur with and that's another thing I'm going for, a nice blend of both ale and mead. As for bittering I'm not oppose to bitter flavor all together, I believe it plays an important part in a well rounded beverage. I simply don't enjoy food and drink where bitterness is the highlight and main characteristic I can taste. As for hops I've sniffed and sampled every kind in my LHBS and anything I can get my hands and taste buds on, simply not my flavor, like mustard... can't do it.

My gravity is a little low so I'm going to double check a few things and most likely add a little honey. A tradition of braggot like beverages, I read somewhere, was historically they would take old ale that wasn't bad yet and referment it with honey and/or spices. Kind of what I was going to try first as I know I can add honey at pitch or after mash and go that route and I plan to do both to compare if anything is different. I am not expecting it to be very different if at all but this is the best part of experimenting, if it's to crazy go ahead and try it but understand why and how it may fail and go to waste.
 

Ty520

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I also very much dislike hoppy bitter beer. IMHO, I cannot wait for the IPA trend to die.

Another thing to note is that the herbs and spices used were, or believed to be, medicinal and/or psychotropic. They were added to ale and mead to make the herb more palatable, not to make the alcohol more palatable.

That being said, I just wrapped up a braggot, and while enjoyable, I found it a bit ones dimensional,and ended up spicing it with cinnamon, clove and orange zest
 
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Kyzaboy89

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Similarly I needed a carboy for this so I bottled what I named the "Quarantine Blend #1" up front it's nice, across the palette it's ok but lacking a decent acid/tannin roundness and the finish is like alcoholic water with nothing special. Most likely going to end up with mulled spices around the holidays, or used in a hot toddy of some kind.
The "Blend" is
1 gallon of Traditional
1 gallon of Cyser
1 gallon of Joe's Ancient Orange Mead
¼ gallon of Bochet
Tasty but needs a good oak addition I think, it's aged out a few things but mostly spices could fix this, might bottle age with both.
 
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Kyzaboy89

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So it's been 24 hours and I haven't seen any activity in the wort or airlock, yeast is Nottingham ale yeast and I like it in my coders so it's my first choice to start off with. Anyhow, 24 hours, no activity, haven't ever experienced this and I'm just curious if it's an ale thing to start slow or what?
Rehydrated, wort was at 73 degrees when I pitched, same thing I do for cider, I've heard it can take a day or 3 to get going but have always had activity within 12 hours. I can be patient but it's just my curiosity that's peeked and I'm getting trigger happy with ideas. Any thoughts?
 

Ty520

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So it's been 24 hours and I haven't seen any activity in the wort or airlock, yeast is Nottingham ale yeast and I like it in my coders so it's my first choice to start off with. Anyhow, 24 hours, no activity, haven't ever experienced this and I'm just curious if it's an ale thing to start slow or what?
Rehydrated, wort was at 73 degrees when I pitched, same thing I do for cider, I've heard it can take a day or 3 to get going but have always had activity within 12 hours. I can be patient but it's just my curiosity that's peeked and I'm getting trigger happy with ideas. Any thoughts?
Give it another day. Are you supplementing with nutrients? Are you de gassing? Sometimes mine don't look very active from the outside but when I pop the top and degas, and add nutrients, it proves otherwise.
 
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Kyzaboy89

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Nutrients yes and degassing/aerating yes I thought that maybe some oxygen would help develop the colony. On further inspection of my garbage can I learned the yeast I used is from 2016 sooo ya haha didn't know I had that in the house. To be safe I added a new pack of nottingham and it's been a couple hours maybe and it's getting a bubble 2-3 minutes apart. Will keep an eye on it and give it another day or two. So far I have 6 bucks invested and I'm more that willing to learn and experiment with that. Thanks for the input 🙂
 

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Nutrients yes and degassing/aerating yes I thought that maybe some oxygen would help develop the colony. On further inspection of my garbage can I learned the yeast I used is from 2016 sooo ya haha didn't know I had that in the house. To be safe I added a new pack of nottingham and it's been a couple hours maybe and it's getting a bubble 2-3 minutes apart. Will keep an eye on it and give it another day or two. So far I have 6 bucks invested and I'm more that willing to learn and experiment with that. Thanks for the input 🙂
Seeing that you had expired yeast, I would guess that was your problem. I would also guess (if this packet wasn't out of date) that the new yeast will make it all better & things will be boozy in no time😏😉🥂🍷
 
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Kyzaboy89

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Seeing that you had expired yeast, I would guess that was your problem. I would also guess (if this packet wasn't out of date) that the new yeast will make it all better & things will be boozy in no time😏😉🥂🍷
I've deliberately made mead with expired yeast to see what changes may happen in flavor/fermentation and such, then it was deliberate and it always started up and finished without issue, even packs that lost vacuum or weren't in the fridge. However, that was yeast only a few months to a year or two at most passed expiration... This is Nottingham Ale yeast that is over 5 years old haha so ya, it's a real experiment now and if it is dead then I added extra food for the yeasts to devour. It does skew testing a repetition of this recipe but I'm not planning on this being anywhere near a finished recipe, alot of adjustment is in order when making a recipe.

Nevertheless we are off into the unknown already, what could happen haha, cheers :bigmug:
 

Ty520

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I've deliberately made mead with expired yeast to see what changes may happen in flavor/fermentation and such, then it was deliberate and it always started up and finished without issue, even packs that lost vacuum or weren't in the fridge. However, that was yeast only a few months to a year or two at most passed expiration... This is Nottingham Ale yeast that is over 5 years old haha so ya, it's a real experiment now and if it is dead then I added extra food for the yeasts to devour. It does skew testing a repetition of this recipe but I'm not planning on this being anywhere near a finished recipe, alot of adjustment is in order when making a recipe.

Nevertheless we are off into the unknown already, what could happen haha, cheers :bigmug:
I would recommend racking off the lees as soon as fermentation completes in order to avoid any off flavors from the old yeast
 
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Kyzaboy89

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I would recommend racking off the lees as soon as fermentation completes in order to avoid any off flavors from the old yeast
Agreed, there is a nice bubble ring from the CO² or was at least before I moved the carboy. Active yeast are eating sugars and making bubbles as of last night, this morning it's still going.
IMG_20210305_073146271.jpg

Poor picture quality but that's the first bubbles this morning floating around.
 
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Got a little sulfuric odor in the braggot and I'm just going to let this sit some more, fairly low gravity to start and it's done, added some honey while it was going strong and it should be about 4.6 abv. Experiment batch with out dated yeast, by accident, and had some stress in fermentation that was apparent. Made a new batch today, with a better gravity and understanding of getting those starches converted for fermentation. Also used a different grain bill and smells much better to what I'm looking for, planning to add honey once there's plenty of active fermentation to avoid some stress on the yeast. I'll keep you posted on round 2, cheers!
 
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That's more like it, Nottingham ale that isn't past expiration and 2 hours in it's already going to work.
IMG_20210321_221057631.jpg
 
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Yesterday I got to see a noticable separation between wort and fermented brew, love seeing this every time it happens.
IMG_20210323_224317532.jpg
 
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Today it's still going and has separated more, the CO² spouts up from the wort like something from a deep sea documentary I saw one time... Ill lose 15 minutes sometimes just watching and relaxing after a long day, like listening to a bubbler at night.
IMG_20210324_175201281.jpg
IMG_20210324_175228718.jpg
 
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I had a small clip that I tried to turn into a gif and upload but it's still to big and isn't working. Those vertical wisps of lees shoot up with CO² from the bottom and the top is almost like a jellyfish/gelatinous layer that catches the CO² and wobbles like a water bed.
 
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4 days in and a quick gravity reading shows about halfway done. Once it's finished I've got an idea to add in a honey/water must on top of the wort and Nottingham or cold crash and rack the ale off lee's and grain bits then add must and pitch some "mead" yeast. Nottingham and either of the "mead" yeast (D47 or 1388) will all get to 14 abv and that's not a concern, just curious how anyone might proceed from here. I want to create this to be representative of a historical recreation, make a raw ale then add honey and referment/add spices for a semblance of a traditional braggot style mead. What I'm undecided on most is whether to finish fermenting the honey with Nottingham or cold crash/rack/pitch with wine yeast to see what happens. Or possibly, please Lord help me, I can split this and try multiple ideas 😂 it's becoming a real conundrum, would love to hear what anyone thinks good or bad it's all up for discussion.
 
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Just a little update, racked this 2nd braggot and haven't touched it in 2 weeks, need to do that. It's had subtle degassing and tiny bubbles on the surface the whole time and where the first go got an infection this one is still clean and odor's good. Waiting on one spice to come in the mail to referment with honey and spices as a historical recipe I want to experiment on and start a new brew to try replicating just for practice.

Having a busy workload lately nor time to work on spring cleaning or homebrew, found out my management team tested positive for covid... The two days prior I spent in reviews or meetings with them for a few hours so now, looking on the bright side, I have a week of leave. Tested positive this morning, got home and grains showed up with my starsan and other oddities that needed replacing. Plenty of time to stay in the bedroom haha need my sinuses to clear so I can use the sniffer on my new grains, might get some racking/transferring done today but I'm so eager to brew.

Over the past few weeks I've done a bit of studying on beer brewing techniques to get a better understanding of all grain brewing and thereby better practices for my braggot trials, learning new things all the time. I'll hopefully get some done this week and fill you all in, keep you posted, cheers.

p.s. here's the racked braggot and my wife just threw the last package at me through the door... All my ingredients arrived Today... If only I had a portable burner haha.
 

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