This is the continuation of my post from last night on Rabbit’s Foot Meadery in Sunnyvale, CA. Tonight’s post is going to cover the cysers and wonderful braggots that they made on site. The line of cysers and braggots are bottled under the Red Branch Brewing label out of concern that consumers would not respond to products other than Mead from a meadery. Additionally, the cyser is marked as a cider (easier to explain what a cider is) and the braggot is sold as a beer (again, everyone knows what a beer is, but a braggot would take some explanation).
The cysers that were available were the Apple and Honey Cider, and the Lemonade.
Apple and Honey Cider – 6.9% ABV
Apple and Honey Cider is a braggot marketed under a more modern name. This particular blend is 50-50 Apple juice and honey.
“We take great care in producing our hard cider from the finest ingredients available and we are sure that you will enjoy our version of this timeless classic. During the middle ages this would have been called a ‘cyser’ and not a cider. Produced from 50% apple juice and 50% honey it is perhaps the mother of modern hard cider. Just slightly sweet, with a full body and terrific crisp apple aroma. “
The Apple and Honey Cider is light gold in color with a fine, wispy white head. Rather than being served still (uncarbonated), it is very nicely carbonated. There was a sweet apple aroma with a slight floral honey finish. The cyser has a sweet cider taste with a crisp, clean finish. This is a much better “cider” alternative than the mass market ciders that are on the market.
The Lemonade was interesting, but unfortunately they would not share specifics about the combination of lemon juice (?), apple juice, and honey. The lemonade was only on tap so I was unable to get a good commercial description of it.
The Lemonade was yellow, with a fine white head. It had a very citrusy (lemon) and honey-sweet aroma. The flavor was extremely lemony, like one of those Lemonhead candies, but not as chemically.
And now, onto the braggots, of which there were four: Biere de Miel, Honey Red, Diabhal, and Honey Stout.
Biere de Miel – 4.2% ABV
“This is the first of our interpretations of a medieval ‘Braggot’ in our style of a golden ale. Our ‘Biere De Miel’ or honey beer, is an ale fermented with honey. We use only the finest malted barley, freshest hops and select yeast to create a wonderful and light bodied ale. Lightly hopped to allow the orange blossom aromas from the honey to come through, it is an easy drinking ale, which we are sure you will enjoy.”
The Biere de Miel pours gold in color, with a thin, bubbly white head. It has a very light and dry aroma, similar to a dry mead; with very little orange blossom honey and little to no hops coming through (I would guess a low alpha German hop, maybe hallertau?). The flavor is very light, maybe pilsner malts, to back up but not over power the honey, and little to no yeast esters (American yeast strain?). It was very light bodied and finished crisp, if I didn’t know better, I would have sworn it was a lager.
Honey Red – 5.0% ABV
“This ale is a tip o’ the hat to the men and women that have served or are serving in the armed forces. The ‘Bomber Girl’ or Pinup evokes the spirit of the military and harkens back to a time when things were a little bit different. Just as in those days, we have selected a piece of art similar to that which adorned the nose of many a fine aircraft. Another of our honey ales or braggots, this Irish Red Style Ale is a big malty mouthful. Lightly hopped and bottle conditioned we hope you enjoy her as much as we do”
This poured a wonderful light copper in color with a white head (very little retention). It was caramel malt forward backed up by a sweet, floral and citrusy honey aroma. The flavor definitely had notes of caramel malt as well as very slight honey notes and the low hopping of traditional red ales. This was an excellent braggot.
Diabhal – 8.2% ABV
“Fermented with traditional Belgian barley, yeast and candi sugar we have taken the liberty of adding a generous amount of the finest honey to create the only ale of its kind. Lightly carbonated when bottled or with a thick head and fantastic ‘Belgian lace’ when poured from the tap. At 8.2% ABV it is similar to a tripel, but paler, drier and lighter bodied due to the honey. The style is often named after the devil and of course we have taken the opportunity to do the same – our version ‘Diabhal’ or Devil in Irish.”
The Diabhal was amber in color with a nice foamy head that had great retention once it was agitated. The aroma definitely carried some alcohol heat and a slight spiciness. The addition of more highly fermentable sugars allows the alcohol percentage to increase without additional body from the malt; some adjuncts (non-barley sugars) also lead to a fermented beverage becoming dryer (the corn and rice in American Light Lagers). The Diabhal is noticeably dry, which is unsurprising given the additional honey, above and beyond the candi sugar. The flavor is lightly spiced and slightly sweet from the funky Belgian yeast and high fermentation temperatures that the yeast prefers.
The Diabhal was an interesting Tripel-style braggot that was very enjoyable.
Honey Stout – 7.2% ABV
The Honey Stout is their newest beer, so new in fact that it does not yet have an accepted label or description. They did however have a picture of the current mock-up label.
The Honey stout is very dark brown, almost opaque with a creamy tan head that had very good retention. The aroma is roasted with noticeable honey sweetness. The flavor is sweet and malty with a dry finish. This was a very good Irish stout, with just the slightest honey.
The final sample of the tasting was interesting raspberry chocolate mead called Chocolate Raspberry Love, and it weighed in at a staggering 18% ABV. Our server referred to it as being an attempt at something reminiscent of a Port Wine.
“A celebration of love, this delicious wine is a marriage of two stars. Chocolate Raspberry Love is the grooviest wine around and it makes exceptional way to mix up a wonderful mead.”
This was extremely heavy and viscous mead that was dark mahogany in color. The aroma was of chocolate raspberry candies and the flavor mirrored it with very sweet raspberry notes blending into a chocolate finish. It was an interesting mead, and definitely one that was crafted for sipping in small quantities or savoring like a Port. Unfortunately, it was too sweet for me.
Well, that’s all for tonight. Stay tuned for the next update, a write-up on Damnation 23 from Russian River Brewing Company.