Perhaps not a popular beer style in today’s day and age, Honey Beer is an old style of beer dating back to the 12th century! Also referred to as Braggot, Honey Beer is a beer made from malt and honey (pretty much a blend of mead and beer). Back then, brewers would blend different herbs and spices with mead and beer to come up with this concoction. The combination of these ingredients is made in the beginning stages of the brewing process. The honey is then added to the kettle. Hops and other spices are added to give the honey beer an added flavor. The syrupy sweetness of the honey is well balanced out because of the bitterness of the hops.
When it comes to the taste of honey beer, the source of the honey plays a major role in how the honey beer will taste. There are different species of bees that interact with different species of flowers, which gives it a varied taste. Different types of honey beers are set apart based on the different types of hops, herbs, and spices. Beers and bees, what a combination! These beers are also very high in alcohol content with some coming in between six and twelve percent. So if you’re a fan of honey beers, best to drink in moderation!
The Origin of Honey Beer
Honey Beer is what all the cool kids would drink in Europe up until the 1800s, particularly in Wales. The many names that can be used interchangeably with Honey Beer include braggot, bragget, bragaut, bracket, bragot, and bragawd which are all originated in Irish and Welsh culture. This style of beer is popular in Celtic Culture traditions which makes sense why there are so many various names! You can even research old drinking songs that pay homage to a brew goddess. The drinking song Hymn of Ninkasi talks about the process of making beer with honey. There are also ancient artifacts that were uncovered in the 1950s from King Midas that told of traces of malted barley, honey, and grapes in one drinking vessel. So though it may not be the most popular style of beer now, it sure used to be!
Enjoy a Honey Beer
There may not be any official pairings for this type of beverage because it is so old! The process of making beer dates back to using honey. Back then, they cared less about what tastes good with the drink and more about if it will sustain them. Today, we suggest pairing a good ol’ honey beer with a rich pulled pork, or if you’re looking for a dessert pairing, something tart like a Lemon Cream Pie.
Why Try a Honey Beer?
With a beer style this old, can you really call yourself a true beer lover if you haven’t even tried this beer style? Regardless, it’s always fun to see how brewers choose to incorporate honey into their brew recipes so if you come across a craft honey brew, we say go for it! And thank the bees while you’re at it for all their hard work! Cheers to the bees!