A crash-course on the style I’m reviewing:
A braggot is mead (honey wine) and herbs, mixed with ale (top-fermenting beer, as opposed to lager). Both aspects of the drink should be apparent in the overall makeup. There is a variety and leeway for style expectations. This is actually a very old style of beer, dating back to the times of Chaucer. Maybe he drank some as he penned his classic Canterbury Tales.
On the docket: Fegley’s Venomous, Imperial Honey Ale
Poured into a Lucifer brand snifter.
Aroma: Gentle honey and malt greet the nose. The malt seems to be a medium, caramel-like roast. There is just a hint of alcohol, and for good reason- the abv clocks in at 9%. The hop presence is either muted, or integrated so well into the beer that it works in harmony- it doesn’t stick out.
Sight: A dark amber, somewhat translucent. Brown and soft violet highlights. A thumbnail-high cap rises when poured, then descends to a small, persisting ring of off-white foam. Tiny bubbles make their way to the top from the base of the glass.
Taste: The mouth first encounters the malty sweetness and the handiwork of the little busy Apis (Latin for bee). One may detect a slight floral note and maybe a slight medicinal one as well. Images of molasses, bread, chocolate, and raisins dance through the mind’s eye. It finishes with a slightly hoppy, slightly bitter note- not like a high IBU type of IPA, but just bitter enough. As it warms, the alcohol is more apparent, but not in a bad way. It sort of tastes like if Bärenjäger had a baby with an English brown ale or pale ale. Neat.
Feel: Medium+ or medium-full body, silky, smooth, filling. It coats the tongue nicely. There is a nice tingle on the tongue, but certainly not as carbonated as a Belgian Trippel, nor would I consider it “still.”
Overall: I think my Bärenjäger meets English Ale comparison is accurate. There is a bit of variety within this style of beer, and this one certainly retains feelings of both mead and beer. In my vast beer-tasting experience, I’ve had a total of (now) three braggots. This one is my favorite. Great to sip on slowly. Well done, Allentown Brew Works. Originally released in October of 2014, I may have consumed an aged bottle. It would explain why I thought the flavors worth smooth and blended. Newer bottles (if they exist) might showcase their features a bit more distinctly.
Suggested food pairing: barbecued beef, pork, or a gamey meat with rich sauce to match intensity. Buttery or pungent cheese (my vote would be Danish bleu). Great as dessert, one its own.
A: 3.75 S: 3.75 T: 4.25 F: 4 O: 4