Original Post: Braggart Braggot
Style: Braggot/Honey Ale/Strong Ale/Barley Wine
Brew Date: February 25, 2012
Tasting Date: October 13, 2014
There is a big, lively off-white head on this beer and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The color is dark red. Burgundy? It is quite clear when held up to the light, but from where I’m sitting, it doesn’t get a shot and it looks a bit darker.
The aroma is extremely caramelly. There is also a lot of graininess along with surprisingly limited, but definitely present honey aroma. The high alcohol content is completely masked in the smell.
Taking a sip, though, it makes itself known pretty quickly. It is sweet upfront, with a good dose of alcohol. It finishes surprisingly dry.
There is definitely some good honey flavor in this beer, but considering how much honey is in it, I think it is surprisingly restrained. The main impression that I get is that this is a really nice barley wine. There are some English ale fermentation esters, grainy maltiness, caramel malt sweetness and huge alcohol warmth. It may be missing the hops, but this still tastes like an excellent English Barley Wine.
If I were to brew this again, and as I drink this the thought has definitely crossed my mind, the aforementioned hops would be the only change I’d like to make. I don’t remember what the IBU rating on this is, but it is definitely low. While it does not seem terribly off balance, I’d like to raise it up a little bit. I would not want much, if any, hop flavor and aroma in this beer, only a little bit more bitterness.
Honestly, though that is not even necessary. This is one of the best things I’ve ever made and it is not a recipe I would ever come up with now. There is too much Honey Malt, too high a percentage of honey, not enough hops, it is just plain too strong… but it works perfectly. Old SMaSHy, ‘Merican Wit, CVP, Mount Hoodie (2013) and this. Off the top of my head, that may be my top five batches.
Out of them, this is the one that seemed to be pure luck. I came up with this recipe as a small batch, when I was trying to rotate between five gallon batches of surefire winners and two and a half gallon batches of crazy ideas and I still wish it had been a five gallon batch. I purposely, and with great and difficult restraint, saved about half of the batch. I have been trying to eek out the fifteen or so bottles evenly to last me several years.
The age does not show very much on this beer. There were not many hops to begin with so their degradation is not an issue. The level of alcohol seems to have preserved most of the rest of the character and while that alcohol makes its presence felt with some serious warmth, its taste is relatively minor. The combination of perceived sweetness from the honey and the honey malt and the relatively dry finishing gravity balance perfectly to cover the alcohol, keep the beer interesting but have it cleaned up relatively quickly.
This is not a beer to drink in great quantity, but it is definitely very drinkable for something over 10% ABV. Speaking of which, I haven’t finished my bottle, but I’m getting there. And I want to savor what I have left. My parting words are: brew something like this. It is delicious and there needs to be more of it in the world. Do it.