hist-brewing: braggot-Cornish, part One

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Fri May 26 21:09:50 PDT 2000

    I hesitated in putting up posts about braggot production for two
reasons: lack of  recent discussion and the cost of making them, brewers
being such a thrifty lot,  recent indications have proved me wrong so
here it is.
    This is without a doubt the best Braggot i've ever had.  It teaches
you allot about making obsolete drinks with old style methods so it's a
good learning tool.    It comes to me from George Donnsby's collection
of family recipes and it's a stunner!  The recipe was apparently written
in 1355, copied in the late 1500's and appears on material that to my
untrained eye seems to be vellum.  I had a terrible time talking George
into letting me post it, which is strange considering that his family
has been out of the brewing trade for almost 30 years, although in the
end he relented.
    While i read over the recipe for the frst time three years ago i
discovered that it was made originally to celebrate the anniversary of
the German victory at Litchfeld.  According to the original author the
recipe was based upon a much older German recipe.  Personally i have no
idea what kind of Braggots the Germans made at the time but it certainly
does not seem similar to any contemporary German/Fresian recipes i know
of.  Also, i would suspect that the only reason an Englishman would feel
the need to celebrate the outcome at Litchfeld would be out of religious
conviction, although i could be wrong.

                        Otto's Commemorative Honey'd Ale (7 gallons

Grist Bill

malt, dark: 10 pounds, i assume and use amber but it could be brown
malt, fine: 15 pounds, i assume pale
oats, unspecified type: 10 pounds


Birch shavings and bark

sugar, brown: 1  pound
honey, unspecified type: 2 gallons
cream 1 1/2 quarts

Carduus, dried root: 6 inch long, made into extract
Buck bean, dried root:  extract to taste, i'd suggest 3 ounces
Carduus, fresh leaf: a handful
balm, unspecified form:  3 handfuls
vanilla bean: 2 handfuls
spice nails (i.e. cloves), crushed: 2 large spoonfuls
Marshmallow, unspecified form: a handful
elder berries, fresh & crushed: 2 handfuls

    "Take half the honey and heat it till it runs like water then add a
third  the balm and half the spice nails to the mix.  Heat for an hour
taking care to not let it boil.  When cool cask with fresh ale balm.
Wait half a day and drop to a new cask and wait not more then two days
before making the ales.
      On the third day make an extract of  the Carduus and buck bean.
Mix the the two bitter brews together."


    "Place three quarters of all the grains in a mash tub and mix with
water too hot to touch yet not boiling, stir well together till you have
a thick porridge like mixture.  Let it work as per the art.  Stop the
work with three gallons of  boiled water.  Draw of  the sweet liqueur
and set aside.  Place the remainder of the grist into the tub and mash
again.  Stop the work with three gallons of boiled water then draw off
the second running and place apart from the first."

First boil:

    "Take the first running and boil it well with a quarter of the
extract and honey plus a third of the balm.  Set aside the strong

Second Boil:

    "The  second running should then be boiled vigorously with a very
large bunch of fresh birch shavings, half the elder berries and a half
quart of cream.  Allow to cool then cask along with the dregs from the
cask that held the honey liquor."

Early Conditioning:

     "Take the strong ale and place it into the cask containing the
honey liquor along with fresh ale balm, the used birch shavings and the
remainder of  the elderberries.  Wait  a week allowing the ale to prove
    Add to the second ale half a  pound of sugar a day for two days."
Later Conditioning:

   "After the second ale has worked for three days combine all three
ales into a single cask along with a goodly amount of fresh ale balm,
the dregs of  the now empty casks and a quarter of  the extract.  Allow
the ale to set for 6 months or more.  Test the ale to see if it is
bitter enough each month, if  against expectation it is not add another
spoonful of extract and wait a two more weeks before again tasting and
adding more extract if needed .

Final Conditioning

    When the ale as fully matured and one is satisfied with the
bittering level add the remaining honey, cream, balm and some bark
before sealing  the cask tightly and waiting one week.  Place the
remainder of  the spices into the cask, seal tightly and wait an
additional three days before serving.

   * In the next post i'll handle some practical issues relating to
making this Braggot*

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