Braggot … Braggot … What?
Mitch, Chef at Five Bar and food-dude behind Beersine (go and find Beersine Pale Ale Cheese, it’s amazing), asked me whether I’d tried any of the Red Duck beers. I’d never heard of them but Mitch said they were fantastic and that was plenty for me. I made a trip to the International Beer Shop and since then these have been sitting in my fridge waiting to be opened.
Before I get into the drinking side of things I’ll first say that I didn’t know what a Braggot was. A quick look on BeerAdvocate gave me a good definition and, as always, my copy of The Oxford Companion to Beer also taught me a few things.
Basically, the braggot style appears to date back to at least the 12th century. It’s produced by combining mead and ale; hop character and bitterness balance out the honey sweetness with herbs and spices also thrown into the mix. Now, however, I had to ask myself – what’s the difference between a braggot and a honey beer? This comes down to the amount of honey used – if there’s more honey than malt then it’s a braggot. If you’re keen, I found this pretty interesting.
Funnily enough I didn’t actually do any of this reading about braggots or even Red Duck until I sat down to write this. Normally I would read up before trying the beer but I wanted to try them without too much preconception of what I was “supposed” to taste
So without knowing much about the beers it seemed as good an idea as any to try them whilst my partner and I tackled the glamorous task of cleaning the house.
First up, The Bear …
I have to say that I love the packaging and whilst we’re on the topic of appearances this beers pours a stunning hazy copper colour, downright sexy. At first the aroma was like having a fresh mango squished under my nose, followed by more tropical fruit and fresh citrus. Drinking it was surprisingly, there’s certainly honey there but it’s not in the way you might expect. It’s soft and smooth honey sweetness with biscuity, spicy and fruity stuff going on too. Delicious and a little bit dangerous at 9.8% abv.
More sweeping, wiping and tidying later, we then cracked open the Smells like a Pony …
By this time I was wondering about the names and judging by their list of limited release beers they’ve been rocking the animal theme for some time – dragon, ox, pony, bear, bee and tiger all make an appearance. A few months ago Crafty Pint did a series of articles ‘What’s In A Name’ so if you’re interested in hearing about the Red Duck beer names from the brewer, you’ll find the article here.
Not knowing what exactly a pony smells like I can only say that when I put my nose into the glass I got a big whiff of booze and raisins. I do, however, like the name – it’s fun and memorable. There’s beautiful red fruit followed up by a good whack of tartness.