Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not a braggart, I...

But a braggot, maybe. I've been contemplating this one for quite some time, and am still not certain exactly what I'm going to do. I've got the honey--a full gallon of killer-bee honey, rich and tasty. To this, I'll add a basic beer-like concoction, and ferment. But what sort of concoction?

The grain bill is the obvious place to start. Malt will add a both color and a depth of flavor to the brew. But what to add? The BJCP guidelines seem to suggest that the braggot should be built off of a base beer style, but Ken Schramm indicates that it doesn't necessarily have to be so. I think that my course of action will be to do a basic, mostly light malt brew. I'll add some slightly darker grains, Special-B and/or a bit of Crystal 60L, just enough to add a reddish tint.

The hops are next on the hit parade. All of my sources call them "optional" in a braggot. I think a light hopping with something in a floral/noble bittering hop, just to cut some of the intense sweetness, is in order. Certainly nothing IPA-like; I'm thinking more the hopping levels of a mild ale, possibly even slightly less. I don't know necessarily what type of hops; perhaps a nice Hallertau?

Finally, there's the yeast to consider. Schramm's samples use Lalvin D-47, which supposedly flocs well and works to 12-14%. I think a better choice would be to start with a clean, alcohol-tolerant beer yeast, then perhaps finish up with something else in the wine variety, to "clean up" some of the residual sugar. A healthy lager yeast, combined with a cold ferment, could do marvelous things. But then, perhaps going straight for a wine yeast to start would be good. I'll have to play on Promash and look at starting gravity, attenuation, and alcohol percentages, then decide.

Lastly, while it's likely a while off, I'll need to consider containers. This won't be one to keg--it'll be far too strong for that. Small bottles will be in order. Perhaps after a light filtration and foce-carbonation. The bottles I've got on order from Shiloh Pottery will be lovely for presentation, too. I think I'll enjoy this process.

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