Tag Archives: Braggot

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.

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.