hist-brewing: Brewing beer with honey

Mike and Laura Angotti angotti at world.std.com
Thu Jun 13 13:52:00 PDT 1996

At 08:30 PM 6/12/96 -0400, you wrote:
>Dose any one know were I might find a pre 1600 recipe for beer with honey.  I
>have brewed for a short while and now wish to enter some brews in to
>compation in the SCA.  I  am clueless on how to document it.  Any suggestion
>on sources etc would be greatly welcomed.
>  Thanks all

David (and any other interested parties),

When discussing beer made with honey, the term generally used is braggot. I
have two recipes for braggot pre-1600, one from a 14th century cookbook, and
the other from a 1594 text.  I have tasted only a couple of braggots.  My
conclusion from this is that they are not easy to do well.  I suspect it is
a case of getting the flavors to combine well and of balancing the sugars so
that it is neither to sweet nor too tart.

*Fine Braggot*. From Hieatt, Constance & Sharon Butler. 1985. Curye on
Inglysch.  Original recipe in Goud Kokery, a 14th century manuscript. (I
have replaced the middle English characters with modern equivalents in () to
ease Email transfer).
Ad faciendum brakott. Take xiiii galouns of good fyn ale (th)at (th)e grout
(th)erof be twies meischid, & put it into a stonen vessel.  & lete it stonde
iii daies or iiii, til it be stale.  Afterward take a quart of fyn wort,
half a quart of lyf hony; & sette it over (th)e fier, & lete it se(th)e, &
skyme it wel til it be cleer. & put (th)erto a penywor(th) of poudir of
peper & I penywor(th) of poudir of clowis, & se(th)e hem wel togidere til it
boile.  Take it doun & lete it kele, & poure out (th)e clere (th)erof into
(th)e forseid vessel, & (th)e gruondis (th)erof put it into a bagge, into
(th)e forseid pot, & stoppe it wel wi(th) a lynnen cloo(th) (th)at noon eir
come out; & put (th)erto mewe berm, & stoppe it iii dayes or iiii eer (th)ou
drinke Verof. Put aqua ardente it among.

Platt, Hugh. 1594. The Jewell House of Art and Nature.
74 The making of a Bragget, which is manie times mistaken for a Muskadell by
the simple sort of people.
	Put one part of smal Alewoort that is blood warm with one part of clarified
Honie according to the maner set downe num. 75 but put no Cloues therein in
the clarifying.  For the making of one Hogesheade of this Bragget which is
aboute 63. Gallons, you must take nine Gallons of this clarified Honie, and
54 gallons of strong new ale: when your clarified hony hath stood one day,
then mingle tha same with your newe Ale in a Hogshead, first filling your
Hogshead halfe full before you put in your honie, and then hang this
aromaticall composition following in a long slender bag in the midst of the
vessell vz. of Cinamon three ounces: ginger three ounces, greins 3. ounces,
colianders one ounce, cloues one ounce, nutmegs one ounce, long pepper halfe
an ounce, Cardamomum one ounce and a halfe, liquerice one ounce, then fil up
the vessell almost full with the rest of the new ale (yet some commend
rather the putting in of the spices confusedlie then in a bag) bee sure to
haue foure or fiue gallons or more of the same newe ale, to fill up the
hogshead as it purgeth ouer continuallie.  There is a lesser hole neere the
bunghole in beere hogsheads, which must stand open whilest it purgeth, you
mus also be carefull in the beginning to giue some little vent to the
hogshead whilst it worketh: in three or foure moneths, it will bee readie to
drinke.  You must haue a hazell sticke of the bignesse of a good cudgell, so
great as may well enter in at the round bung-hole and when your hogshead is
about three quarters full, put in this stick, being sawed crosswise at the
end about one cubite in length, (the Vintners call it their parrelling
staffe) as the aptest toole for this purpose.  Beat with the said staffe the
new ale and the honie togither a good prettie whilem & when you haue
finished this agitation, fill up the vessel wiht the rest, and let it purge
as before.  If you finde your muscadell too thicke, after it hath stood 3.
or 4. monethes, you may take a cane or pipe, made of Tinne plates, that will
reach into the midst of the hogshead or somewhat more, stop the ende thereof
and make some holes in the sides, and with a funnell you may poure more newe
ale into the Cane, and so make it thinner.  This Cane is an apt instrument
to conueie any liquor or composition into a vessell of wine without
troubling of the same, or turning uppe the lees, wherby you may draw the
same fine presently.

For SCA competition, your documentation can be put together in any number of
ways which I will (today) break down into three parts.  Remember the purpose
of whatever you write will be to show the judges that you know what you are
doing, how it relates to period practice, and where and why it is different.
In addition, the judges may need the information as they may not know much
about braggot.  The parts of your documentation are: 1) establish the place
of your product in period (when, where, how used), 2) show the source of
your recipe (a little harder when retrofitting), and 3) say exactly what you
did and where and why it differs from period.  This doesn't mean a term
paper, I find my brewing documentation generally runs about two pages, and
much of that is the same from item to item..

For your next batch, why don't you try redacting (making a modern recipe)
from one of these and making that.  If you want any help in the process, I
(or my husband) will be very happy to help you.

Yours in Brewing and Research, 

Laura Angotti					In the SCA:	Morgaine ferch Cadwr
angotti at world.std.com						Barony of Carolingia, East
Arlington, MA

Note:  Although I am the one to post, due to a current availability of time,
none of my knowledge would be what it is without the equal work of my
husband Michael (Muiredach O'Siadhail) in all of these areas.

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