Braggot Blending Technique

This is my preferred braggot making technique. You basically blend a mead with a beer, then age, serve, or bottle as you prefer. You still want to adjust your beer recipe to blend, but now you can do bench trials to figure out exactly what the final blend should be.


I’ll describe a few of the benefits to doing a braggot in this manner.

  • You have the most control. You make the beer and the mead the best possible way.
  • Beer yeast for beer, mead/wine yeast for mead.
  • Proper nutrients for the mead, enough nutrients for the beer.
  • Different fermentation kinetics. Most beer yeasts can eat a certain amount of maltotriose, but if there are too many simple sugars (from honey) and/or you need to finish with a stronger wine yeast, almost none of the maltotriose will get fermented. Doing separate ferments means that you can control that the longer chain sugars get eaten.
  • You can blend more than one mead. I’ll often make two different traditional meads and figure out which goes better with the beer.
  • If you make 10 gallon batches of beer, you get 15-25 gallons of braggot, depending on your blending.
  • Honey aroma is easier to preserve as the wine yeasts tend to throw off a little less of the aromatics.


As no method is perfect, there are some cons to this method.

  • You have to manage 2 or more fermentations (also a benefit).
  • Need more fermentation space.
  • Might need to ferment at different temperatures.
  • Can take longer to get a final product as you often need to age longer after blending.
  • More complicated, which makes it a little harder to reproduce.


Now here are a few tricks and notes to help minimize the cons. This isn’t entirely exhaustive, but hits the big ones.

  • Make your beer and mead to be similar alcohol strength. This makes blending less likely to cause any re-fermentation.
  • Make your residual sweetness similar, or be ok with a re-fermentation (usually from wine yeast) after blending.
  • Unless both beer and mead are bone dry you will get some re-fermentation after blending, so leave a little head space in the blending vessel.
  • Use extra hops in the beer, you’ll be blending with a certain percentage of mead. I generally aim for 50/50 blend and do a bit less than double for bittering, remember it’ll be drier with the honey.
  • First Wort Hop if you want flavor hops. FWH seems to give some 20 minute equivalent flavor hop characteristic. Throwing in some hops in the flavor range is still a good idea.
  • Mash a little higher and/or use some extra body malts (carapils, honey malt, etc) to balance the drier mead.
  • If you want a sweeter final product do a beer with lots of unfermentables, mash near the top of the amylase range, do some kettle carmelization, and/or use more caramel/crystal malts.
  • After blending it takes a few months to integrate, especially at higher alcohol strengths.
  • You can blend anytime after most of the fermentation is done, just be aware that wine yeasts can kill beer yeasts because of the competitive factor. Pretty much all beer yeasts have a competitive factor of ‘sensitive’ so you can only co-ferment with a wine yeast that is also sensitive.
  • After blending, you’ll notice some more clarification happening, it may take a while. Take that into account when packaging.
  • Bottle conditioning will be more difficult, especially at higher alcohol percentages and after bulk-aging for months. You will want to consider bottle conditioning with a high alcohol tolerant yeast like DV10 or bottling from keg. Or a combination of partially carbonating in keg and finish the rest with yeast, this is particularly useful for high carb styles.


My typical process for a braggot like this is pretty straightforward. After I have all my ingredients for both mead and beer I’ll get set up for brewing. Then do my beer day like normal, and as soon as the mash is stabilized, I’ll start making mead. I’m generally done mixing my batch of mead by the time the mash is done. I’ll record all the vitals, and let them ferment, doing SNA and stirring the mead. I generally do the first racking without mixing, usually because the mead and beer finish at different times. Then after things start clearing, 2-4 weeks, I’ll do a bench trial, then blend. Then I’ll age, racking with CO2, whenever there’s a bit of sediment. After it seems to be done I’ll keg it, and age until I have room in the kegerator. After that I can bottle if I want, and as the ABV is usually double digit that’s a good idea.

Bench Trials for Repeatable Balanced Meads

One of the questions I get a lot is using spices in mead. For most spices and additives I simply say “Do a bench trial.” which means I have to then explain what that is. So here’s a post explaining what a bench trial is, and when to use it. These are best to do with a couple of friends to get more than just your opinion, and it’s more fun anyway.

When to do a bench trial?
When you have two (or more) different things you want to blend.

Pretty simple, but I’ll give some examples.

  1. You have two batches of mead, one too sweet, one too dry.
  2. You have a mead that you want to add a spice to.
  3. You want to blend a beer and a mead.
  4. You have a extremely tannic melomel and you want to tone it down with a traditional.
  5. You’re curious if that blueberry mead and the cherry mead would be better blended.
  6. You want to add a touch of tannin to a mead without structure.
  7. You want to add a touch of acidity to a
  8. You want to add a touch of honey to a mead that’s a tad dry.
  9. You want to add a touch of coffee to a mead.

Basically, whenever you have two things you want to see what ratio they should be blended at for the best product.

How do I do a bench trial?
The basic idea is that you are blending different percentages of substance A and substance B.

If I’m blending two meads that I have no clue what the blend should be I’ll start with 100% A and 100% B then do a equal spacing between. If you do 3 samples between you have it in 25% increments. If you do more samples between you’ll be able to do this in less rounds. You can do volume or weight, as long as you’re consistent. I tend to prefer weight when the percentages are large like this, but volume is pretty easy too.

Example 1: Finished blueberry mead and finished cherry mead, both dry.

I don’t know if it’ll be better with a touch of blueberry, touch of cherry, or equal.

Start with 250ml of blueberry mead, and 250ml of cherry mead. Make 5 glasses containing the following:

  1. 100ml of blueberry mead
  2. 75ml blueberry, 25ml cherry
  3. 50ml blueberry, 50ml cherry
  4. 25ml blueberry, 75ml cherry
  5. 100ml of cherry mead

Stir the meads lightly to ensure a good mix. If you’re tasting with friends, pour each sample into a few glasses. I like to label the bottoms of the glasses so the percentages aren’t immediately obvious to everyone. I’m often surprised that sometimes the best flavor of X isn’t when X is the most dominant percentage.

Then taste, and rank your top 2. If your top two are 1 and 5, then you probably don’t want to blend. If your top two are adjacent, say 3 and 4, then you can repeat this whole process. but your A is now 250ml of 75% blueberry and 25% cherry, and your B is now 250ml of 25% blueberry and 75% cherry.

Sometimes there’s only one you like, it is so far above and beyond the others. At that point it is usually good to try a few centered around the one you like, if it was 2 you might try 80/20, 70/30, etc. to see if it is even better.

If your top two are say 2 and 4, then you’ve got some choices. If you really like them both, 2 different meads, huzzah. Or you can try going towards the edges, and seeing what 95ml/5ml, 90ml/10ml, etc taste like. Or you can try a few centered around each of the ones you like.


The beauty of this technique is that it works with practically anything. But what about when you already know you want less of an ingredient? Well lets look at coffee in mead.

Example 2: Coffee in mead.

If you’re doing the coffee addition, and want to use hot or cold brewed coffee you already know a few things. First you probably don’t want a mead that’s 50% coffee and mead. You probably don’t even want to go above 15%! I’ve noticed dual peaks pretty often with coffee. Just a touch 2-5%, and a fair bit 10-15%. It tends to get muddied in the middle, but the edges are mead with hints of coffee and mead with lots of coffee.


Let’s start with a wide range. The smaller the amounts, the dicier the pouring gets, so a good steady pouring hand, or a baster is useful.

Here’s the stages for the coffee/mead blend, going wide.

  1. 100ml mead
  2. 95ml mead, 5ml coffee
  3. 90ml mead, 10ml coffee
  4. 85ml mead, 15ml coffee
  5. 80ml mead, 20ml coffee

I don’t really expect sample 5 to taste that great, from prior experience. However, I like to go past what I expect because sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised.

Stir like before, and do the same tasting. You’ll likely get two next to each other you like. Lets say it is 2 and 3. Since pouring 6ml of coffee and 7ml of coffee is a bit annoying I usually just make a batch of 2 and a batch of 3, then blend those as in example 1. And then pick my winner.

If your two favorites are far apart, do the same as in example 1 and explore around the point you like to see if there’s a better blend.

There, not so bad. But what about the non-liquid examples like tannins, or acid, or honey additions you say? Well, let’s do another example

Example 3: Random weighable X into mead

You have a mead, and you want to add some of X, whether X is acid blend, tannin, honey, or something else. The concept is the same. For this you’re going to need a nice scale, perhaps one that can go down to the mg level (AWS GEMINI-20 scale). You’re likely scaling down a 20L (5.3Gal) batch to 100ml. You need to figure out what the ‘max dose’ of the additive is, then normalize it to g/L so you can easily use your scale. Let’s say that the max dose you want to test is Y g/L then you’ll do the following.

  1. 100ml of mead
  2. 100ml of mead with 0.025Y g of X
  3. 100ml of mead with 0.05Y g of X
  4. 100ml of mead with 0.075Y g of X
  5. 100ml of mead with 0.1Y g of X

Stir until completely mixed. If you end up with some not mixed in then you’re likely past the saturation point for that substance, and need to discard those samples as too much.

Then this reduces to the same as Example 2 or Example 1 in application and scope.


OK. Now we’re ready to talk about spices. I prefer to do a tincture (water or ethanol) and do one of the above, usually Example 3, but with a pipette counting drops. Tinctures are pretty easy to make, either make a tea (extra strong) if you think or know that the spice is more water soluble. Or cover the spice with ethanol in a small jar for a few days or weeks (depending on the spice).

You can extend this technique to 3 variables by doing a N x N matrix instead of the simple 1 x N matrix we did. Instead of picking 2, you’ll pick top 4 and see what kind of box that makes, then repeat.

Single Stage Braggot Making

Another method of making a braggot is doing everything in the boil. This has some downsides, namely losing some aromatics from your honey. But the upsides is that it is much simpler to do, and those worried about unpasteurized honey can rest a little easier.

The ideal honey to use for a single stage braggot is a strong honey. Orange blossom honey is a good choice, as is buckwheat or avocado. Some of the same considerations for gravity and body apply as in Two Stage Braggot Recipe Formulation apply. When formulating your recipe make sure that your program isn’t using the additional sugars in the full boil, as that will make it seem like you need to use more bittering hops.  To oversimplify, the more sugar during bittering additions the less effective hop bitter extraction.

I tend to do this style of braggot when I’m feeling lazy, or when the beer is small (under 7% ABV). The time to add honey is 5-15 minutes before the end of the boil. You want to add it slowly, so as not to burn it on the bottom of your kettle (or on the electric element). I find pulling some boiling liquid out of the bottom of the kettle into a heat tolerant container with your honey is helpful. Alternatively you can just slowly drizzle into the boil while stirring.

You’ll also want to add some extra nutrients into the boil. I’m using Wyeast yeast nutrients at the moment.

Here’s a recipe a friend and I did at Big Brew this year. It was his 4th batch of the day using electric systems, and my fourth batch of mead. Our goal was a Citra IPA braggot with orange blossom honey. We used a base recipe we’d used before for IPAs, bumped the mash up to 158F from 151F, dropped the gravity and replaced with honey. We ended up with a 1.056 starting gravity that finished at 1.011, making for a 5.9% ABV beer with about 70 IBUs. Crystal clear with an white head. Perhaps a bit too light for an IPA, but this is an IPA braggot, so all good. The honey characteristics are dominant in the aroma, and blend nicely with the Citra notes. The aftertaste is crisp with a slight honey linger. I used whirfloc, and Wyeast yeast nutrient as per directions. We used a dry yeast because we weren’t sure if we’d actual get to brew the 4th batch at big brew and didn’t want to waste the starter.

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 11.00 gal
Boil Size: 13.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.056 SG
Estimated Color: 5.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 80.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU
16.50 lb      Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        74.39 %
1.00 lb       Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)              Grain        4.51 %
0.85 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM)     Grain        3.83 %
0.33 lb       Honey Malt (25.0 SRM)                     Grain        1.49 %
1.50 oz       Citra [12.00 %]  (90 min) (First Wort Hop)Hops         36.9 IBU
2.00 oz       Citra [12.00 %]  (30 min)                 Hops         32.1 IBU
1.50 oz       Citra [12.00 %]  (10 min)                 Hops         11.4 IBU
3.00 oz       Citra [12.00 %]  (0 min)                  Hops          -
3.50 lb       Honey (1.0 SRM)                           Sugar        15.78 %
2 Pkgs        S-05 (chico strain)                       Yeast-Ale
Total Grain Weight: 18.68 lb
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp
40 min        Step               Add 23.35 qt of water at 170.5 F    158.0 F


Note the IBUs in this recipe. Remember how I said it was about 70 IBUs? Well it is if you are at 5000 feet when brewing, where utilization is about 85% of sea level. So adjust as needed.

When I do this again, I’m going to up the body component a touch with a bit more honey malt, and maybe use a different yeast like California V or Dry English. I might also throw in a touch of amarillo as aroma hops.

Two Stage Braggot Recipe Formulation

There are a couple of methods out there for making braggots, one of my favorite styles. Basically the goal of a braggot is to have a melding of mead and beer, such that you have characteristics from both. The goal is not to be a mead with beer, or a beer with mead, but something that is balanced and has elements of both.

I’ll describe a method for making a braggot that doesn’t boil the honey, or require two separate fermentations. The general idea is that you make a beer (with modifications) and add honey into the active secondary fermentation (3-5 days into primary).

I prefer to use a beer recipe that I’ve brewed a few times, and one I feel pretty comfortable with. I’ll modify the recipe to increase the body, and perhaps decrease the alcohol of the beer, then add honey to get me to 30-70% of the fermentables to be from honey. It all depends on how dominant the honey is versus the beer.

With this method you don’t have to make a huge beer, you can make a standard 5-8% beer, and then add honey to get the rest of the alcohol that you want. A decent rule of thumb is 1lb of honey per 5 gallons gives about 1% ABV. So to do a 12% braggot that’s 50:50::grain:honey you’ll make a 6% beer, and add about 6 lbs of honey.

Of course, we’ll be pushing the beer yeast to 10% or higher, so picking a yeast that can handle the higher alcohol is very important. Dry English,  French Saison, and most trappiest yeasts have worked well for me. Dry English is clean and attenuates well, and the belgian yeasts are well suited for braggots – the dryness and fruity esters work well with honey.

The primary change you need to make in your beer recipe is to up the mash temp (4-5F usually), and potentially add carapils, wheat, oats, etc to create a bigger body. A good trick is to add a bit of honey malt, as it adds body and sweetness. If you don’t up the body you’ll end up with a super thin braggot because the honey will thin it out considerably. You’ll also definitely want to add some nutrients to the boil (Wyeast yeast nutrient is my current choice).

The biggest choice you have is your honey. Orange Blossom can be noticeable in as low of quantities as 5%, alfalfa tends to be 20% or more. Of course, it depends on the beer it is going into. A dark, roasty beer will need a stronger honey such as buckwheat or avocado blossom, or require more honey to be noticeable. A sweet beer might take less honey, but you’ll need to up the sweetness of the beer for the added honey not to make it dry.

As it is fermenting for the first couple of days you’ll need to decide when to add the honey. I prefer to add it when the fermentation is still quite active, kind of like a step feeding. This is usually in the 3-5 day range, but the real aim is to be about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way done fermenting the beer. In a clean sanitized fermenter you’ll add your warmed honey, then do what is called a dirty racking. That is, rack and make sure you take a good portion of the yeast cake. You’re basically bumping up the gravity to either the original gravity again, or a bit above. Don’t worry too much about getting complete mixing, the yeast will grab the honey when they’re ready for it.

At this time you’ll also want to add some nutrients. Shoot for 150 ppm if 50% honey or less and under 12% ABV, do 200 ppm if more than 50% honey or over 12% ABV. Do about 1/3 of your nutrients from organic sources, and the rest from DAP (with Fermaid-K and DAP that’s about 3:1::Fermaid-K:DAP by weight to get about 1/3 total organic nutrients). Staggering the nutrients over a couple of days is also a good idea, just make sure not to add them too late into the fermentation (after 2/3 sugar break equivalent).

Stirring lightly, and/or oxygenating for the first couple of days after adding the honey is also a good thing to do. You’ll have happy yeast, and you’ll be able to smell for potential off flavors, not to mention add your nutrients appropriately. 

You’ll also want to keep your fermentation temps relatively low, and ramp them up towards the end. The higher temps at the end is to help finish out the ferment. And the lower temps to start are to prevent fusel alcohols. Step feeding tends to promote the production of fusel alcohols, so keeping the temps low for the first couple days after adding the honey is important.

Once the fermentation is done, simply treat it as a big beer from the aging point of view. You may have a difficult time in bottle conditioning, unless you add a yeast like DV10 at bottling.

Now let’s walk through a couple of general recipe ideas with modifications.

Exercise 1: Brown ale, 5% ABV, normally mashed at 152F, using WLP007.

Answer 1: To convert this to a braggot with this method: Up the mash temp to 156 or 157. Maybe add a touch of honey malt to maintain the sweetness. Then add 4-5 lbs of a fruity/earthy honey such as alfalfa to get a 10% braggot.

Answer 2: Up the mash temp to 157, scale the recipe to 8% (direct scale on base malts, and 50% scale on specialty malts), then add 5 lbs of fruity/earthy honey to get a 13% or so braggot. This will maintain a bit more sweetness from the long chains sugars obtained from mashing high. This will also be a touch more beer dominated.

Exercise 2: 7% Saison, normally mashed at 148F, using Wyeast 3711.

Orange blossom is noticeable in a saison at 5-8%, but isn’t dominant. My normal Saison recipe is 13% orange blossom honey, and it is apparent, but not anywhere close to the first thing you pick out.

Answer 1: Mash at 152F, no other beer recipe changes. Add 3-5lbs of orange blossom honey to the secondary, making sure to add nutrients at the 200ppm level (3711 can get stinky if stressed). This will make a nice crisp 10-12% imperial saison braggot.

Answer 2: Scale the beer down to a 5% beer, and add 3-4lbs of orange blossom honey, 150ppm YAN should suffice. This should get a nice crisp 8-9% saison braggot.

Raspberry Blossom Mead Making and Fermenting

So I made the recipe at big brew. And as some of you may know, notes at big brew can easily be forgotten. Here are the notes I took.

Gravity: 8.7 brix (1.035) – so I hit my gravity, huzzah.
pH: 3.75 – so I was wrong that the pH would be a little low, also huzzah since that’s less work.

Then the real work of brewing mead was upon me. That’s the stirring and addition of nutrients. I stir twice a day. This gives me a chance to take a gravity, as well as to smell for off-flavors developing. I test the gravity to know when to add the rest of the nutrients at the 1/3 sugar break.

During fermentation on day 3 with gravity around 1.017 I noticed a light stench of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). That’s pretty close to 50% sugar break (this will probably go to 0.998 gravity), so I had a decision to make. Do I add organic and inorganic nutrients (since I ran out of Fermaid O) or do I just add yeast hulls. This is on the very edge of where it is OK to add nutrients, especially inorganic nutrients.

I decided to do a little of both, add a touch of nutrients (30ppm) as well as some Reduless (Scott Laboratories, MoreWine) which is yeast hulls infused with copper. Copper being able to help rid your mead of H2S products and some byproducts. And I really dislike the flavor of even a little bit of mercaptan.

So day 3 I added 4g Reduless and 8g of Fermaid K. If you don’t have Reduless, the Fermaid K by itself would probably be fine, and if the H2S didn’t got away then a touch of yeast hulls would probably be enough. I just wanted the copper infusion to hopefully eliminate any mercaptan formation.

Just 10 minutes later after adding and stirring, the H2S aroma was pretty much gone. And a day later all is still smelling fine.

When I do this recipe again I’ll bump the nutrients up to 200 ppm YAN.

Raspberry Blossom Session Mead Recipe

One of my favorite types of meads to make are session meads. I like them for their quick turn around and that I can put them on tap for a nice refreshing drink.

I’ve some Raspbery Blossom honey that I’ve been told has a relatively low pH, so this batch will be a little more work than a normal recipe. I believe I’m going to have to bump up the pH with Potassium Carbonate so that the yeast have a smaller chance of becoming stressed and producing Hydrogen Sulfide and thus getting Mercaptans.


Recipe Formulation
The recipe goal is pretty straightforward. I’ll be making a 10 gallon batch. I’m shooting for around 5% alcohol. I plan on then sweeting it with 0.5lb to 1.0 lb of raspberry blossom honey per 5G and carbonating. For fun I’m going to clarify half the batch with sparkolloid and the other half with no clarifying agents.

So to get 5 alcohol in 10G I can either use prior knowledge to know that I need to shoot for around 1.035 original gravity, or I can use a calculator.  Either way gives me about 10 lbs of honey to get 1.035. Note that since honey is a natural product it can have quite a bit of variance, meaning you might have to use a little less or a little more honey.

Next is to figure out how much nutrients are needed. Now this depends on the yeast. I’m going to use a yeast with ‘medium’ nutrient needs: D21. This is a fun yeast and I’m thinking it will complement the honey well. For a medium nutrient yeast I generally shoot for 175 ppm YAN. I’ve found with lower than that I tend to start getting sulfur compounds. Honey has basically 0 YAN, so it has to be added from other sources. I’m choosing to use a combination of Fermaid O and DAP. Fermaid O is 6.5% N and DAP is 21% N (For reference Fermaid K is 13% N). Here is a decent reference on adding YAN to your wine. I tend to go with a 3:2 ratio of YAN from organic to inorganic (DAP). If I add 1.55g/L of Fermaid O that’ll provide 101ppm YAN, so I’ll add .32g/L of DAP for about 67ppm YAN. You’ll notice that is only 168ppm YAN. We’ll also get some YAN from the GoFerm we’ll use for rehydration, about 9 ppm worth.

Rehydration of yeast with GoFerm is a must. Without rehydration you lose up to 50% of your yeast cells, severely hampering your fermentation.

So, here’s the final recipe.

10lb Raspberry blossom honey (primary)
1-2lbs of Raspberry blossom honey (backsweetening)
10G Filtered water
58.9g Fermaid O (47.1g @Lag, 11.8g @1/3 sugar)
12.2 DAP (6.1g @Lag, 6.1g @1/3 sugar)
10g D21 yeast
12.5g GoFerm

Aiming for 1.035 OG.

That doesn’t look to bad does it? I’ll be brewing it at big brew.