REVIEW: Brother Adam Honey Bragget Ale from Atlantic Brewing Company

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Atlantic Brewing Co.
Location: Bar Harbor, ME
Style: Braggot
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: ?
Yeast: Nottingham, Champagne
Malt: Pale, Black, Munich
Hops: Pilgrim, Wye Goldings
Appearance: Dirty, Brown Amber Resembling Dark, Unfiltered Honey
Aroma: Sweet & Malty With a Vinous Stitch of Alcohol
Flavor: Robust Malt & Mouthcoating Sweetness
Availability: Limited
Pairs With: Bleu Cheese, Dark Chocolate, Plums

Something new this week. A style I’ve never reviewed… come to think of it I’m not sure I’ve ever had a commercial offering of this style. So, a Bragget for your consideration. A quick note here: there is an older spelling of the name “Braggot,” and this is the more common spelling I believe, but the dictionary recognizes the spelling used by the Atlantic Brewing Company, so in the interest of keeping things consistent I will use “Bragget” in this review.

This is an interesting style of beer with a long, but mostly lost history. The fact that a bragget is actually a marriage of both mead and beer gives it a non-to-firm date of origin, but its roots can be traced back to a wild tribe of the European Isles known as the Picts. Not much of this people’s history is known today. They were enough of a thorn in the Romans side that they were part of the reason Hadrians Wall was built. Most of their beer brewing legacy is lost to history along with any definitive answer to their ultimate fate, but one of the few things that does seem to have matriculated down through the shadowed faults of the past is their truly renowned skills in brewing. Robert Lewis Stevenson even wrote an poem about it.

According to the label this beer’s fermentable sugars are equal parts malt and honey. Historically the bragget contained more mead then beer but using a 50/50 split allows the Brewery to classify this as a beer and not a mead.

Brother Adam Honey Bragget Ale

Atlantic Brewing Company named their bragget for Beneditine monk Brother Adam Kehrle. In 1910 Brother Adam, only 12 years old, became a part of the community at Buckfast Abbey. He was assigned to help Brother Columban with the abbey’s bees. He would continue this work for the next seventy-eight years. His bee breeding research took him to the far corners of the world and ultimately resulted in a new honey bee that was both extremely disease resistant and a great honey producer. In 1991, after United States honey production was badly damaged by the disease acarine, queen bees bred to be resistant to the disease were imported from the Abbey. His bees saved and revolutionized much of the world’s honey production.

An apt tip-of-the-hat to the work of an important figure with an important ingredient of this beer. Hopefully it is worthy of the name.

The Pour and Aroma

Brother Adam’s pours a dirty brown amber. The color reminds me of honey, but not the smooth golden color of light honeys, more the dark deep unfiltered hue of forest or buckwheat honey. A short head rises half a finger’s width above the murky liquid, sticks briefly, before disappearing back into the brown liquid, like a periscope raised but fleetingly to get an idea of surface conditions.

Atlantic Brewing Co.

The aroma is sweet, malty, with a vinous stitch of alcohol. Honey plays its hand gregariously while the malt plays its cards a little closer to the cuff. They blend well though, with the beautiful scent of wild honey, buoyed up by the rich malt presence.

Mouthfeel and Taste

In the mouth the high ABV creates a pleasant warming sensation. The taste, much like the aroma, carries the signatures of a robust malt bill and mouthcoating sweetness. The actual honey flavor is readily noticeable but nicely subtle. There are some nice earthy notes, probably a mix of the honey and the hops. There is little bitterness, but this style wouldn’t really have much. There is an agreeable burn on the swallow and the aftertaste really brings out the softer notes in the honey.

Finishing The Impression

I can think of two occasions for this beer. The first is saving it for that special occasion. The high ABV and complex character speaks well to its aging ability. So, buying one and saving it isn’t going to hurt it and may improve it. It’s sweetness makes it an excellent after dinner drink. Oil for conversation, and it’s one of those beers you almost hate to not share. It’s a good one to save for that special birthday dinner or the next time an old friend drops into town.

The second way would be over several evenings, as an after dinner aperitif. Just a small glass. A warming-sweet pause in contemplation for sleep comes.

More Beer Reviews:

Nick Carr

About Author

Nicoli Carr has been tinkering with homebrewing for over 10 years and is currently enrolled in the American Brewers Guild (CBA). When he’s not studying or working, he is likely out foraging wild brewing options, writing, or hunting stillness in remote places.

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