Category Archives: Techniques

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.