View Full Version : aging a braggot before bottling

02-17-2016, 11:51 AM
Hi Guys!

We recently made a 2 gallon braggot containing the following-

boiled for 60 mins:
1.32 Pale malt extract
1 oz Cascade hops 5.7%

Added to:

4 lbs Clover honey
1 teaspoon go-ferm
1 teaspoon Fermaid-K
Lalvin d47 (rehydrated to spec)
Water topped up to 2 gallons.
Step fed with Fermaid-K


4 days later, it's already fermented to 1.010 so we're nearing secondary racking. Our plan is to allow this to floc and then carbonate (with half cup honey) and bottle in standard beer bottles.

What would you all recommend as a time to allow it to age in the carboys prior to carbonating and aging? This is our first braggot and already tasting pretty good even this soon, so we'd like to bottle and drink sooner rather than later.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

02-17-2016, 05:33 PM
If this was a beer you would age it about 3 weeks in the fermenter and 3 weeks in the bottle as it conditions - That is six weeks and that is with a starting gravity of about 1.050 or thereabouts and that is with an ale or beer yeast ... I think that wine yeast demands longer aging and a higher starting gravity begs for longer aging..so if it tastes fine today it will taste even better in 3 months and far better in 6.

02-17-2016, 06:02 PM
Thanks for the tip. Say we age for 3-6 months, is it best to age in the carboy and then carbonate a few weeks before drinking? Or can we carbonate and bottle, and then age?

02-18-2016, 01:32 PM
Hey guys,

on another note, this braggot has fermented down to 1.000 now, and there's all but no foam or activity to speak of now. The liquid seems entirely still in the fermenter now (which makes sense, since it's most likely reached it's max alcohol tolerance.

However, it's also taken on a real skunky odor very quickly. Like, over night quickly. Not the rotten egg sulphur smell, but almost like a boiled cabbage smell. My first though is this needs to be fed in some way, like adding boiled bread yeast. Is this a good idea at this stage?


02-18-2016, 02:13 PM
I guess I am a little surprised. Here's why:
A gravity of 1.000 means that nominally there is virtually no residual sugar in the carboy. Of course, there has to be SOME sugar because pure water has a gravity of 1.000 and alcohol is less dense than water and if your starting gravity was 1.090 then the solution you have is about 12 % alcohol so you would expect the gravity to be significantly less than 1.000. So, for all intents and purposes there is virtually no sugar left in the carboy for the YEAST to convert...

But a braggot implies (as your recipe indicates) that you added some grains or sugar extracted from grains.. and sugars extracted from include sugars that wine yeasts (or beer yeasts) simply cannot ferment which is why beers are typically drunk at a gravity of about 1.010 or thereabouts (and why brewers add hops to balance the sweetness with the bitterness of the hops).. So how your yeast got the braggot down as low as 1.000 is a bit of a mystery (at least to me) .. But to your question:

If you add nutrients to a wine or mead where the gravity has fallen even close to 1.000 since for all intents and purposes there is no residual fermentable sugar left, you will be asking other lurking bacteria and mold to come on in.. and while that amount of alcohol in the mead will make it pretty uncomfortable for most bacteria the addition of "nutrients" COULD result in some spoilage and souring - the unwanted bacteria feeding on the nutrients and perhaps producing lactic acids rather than ethanol ... Bottom line? Your yeast has done what you asked it to do and I would allow the yeast to relax and clean up any mess it made gobbling up the sugars in the honey - perhaps you might rack to a secondary and allow the mead to gently and slowly age... but I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how your gravity got so low..

02-18-2016, 03:18 PM
Hey Bernardsmith,

thanks for your helpful answer. I'm a bit confused too by the low gravity, but my hydrometer's telling me what it's telling me!

So for the skunky, cabbage odour it's best to just sit back and let it age out you're figuring?

02-18-2016, 11:16 PM
cabbage smells in brewing tend to be caused by bacterial infections of DMS or Dimethyl Sulfides which themselves are caused by (I think) boiling wort in a closed container - DMS is normally evaporated off but if you boil wort in a closed container you simply concentrate this chemical. Failure to rapidly cool wort can also contribute to this and if I am right and the cabbage smell is in fact caused by bacterial infection of the DMS, that is due to poor sanitation then a) I am not sure what the repair might be - IF there is a repair and b) this might explain how your gtravity got so low given the presence of non fermentables - the bacteria can consume sugars that the yeast cannot. ... Sorry I cannot be more helpful but given your post it sounds like you have several catastrophic problems... Others with more knowledge and experience than I have may be able to suggest some way to save your braggot. :(

02-19-2016, 12:11 AM
Ok, well this is embarrassing: I've done another gravity reading and it IS sitting at 1.010. Apologies as my eyesight isn't what it once was, and there was a bit of foam in my sample container when taking the last measurement... this explains why you were so flummoxed by the odd reading, so again sorry!

However, the smell remains a mystery. I'd describe it as a cross between the cabbage I describes before, or just a very pungent beer smell. Pungent enough that's it's unappealing. I've read a bit on Dimethyl Sulfides and it can be caused by not aerating enough during fermentation, but I did aerate at least twice per day for about 4 days, so not sure if that's the culprit. I'll have to monitor for awhile and see if it worsens.

02-19-2016, 03:25 PM
Well, looks like this braggot is a goner. The strong smell has become and unbearable stench. Has definitely picked up some kind of infection. Into the sink it goes!

Well, back to the drawing board, although I wish I could tell where we went wrong with this one. Someone on a homebrewing site suggested perhaps it had TOO much aeration although I didn't think that could hurt it until primary fermentation had finished.

02-19-2016, 04:01 PM
Do you often brew beer? The problems may be located in the brewing part of the braggot. Would you be willing to share the protocol you used up to the point when you measured the gravity and it was 1.010 after 4 days? - in detail, including how you sanitized the brewing equipment, how you cooled the wort, how you mixed the must with the wort etc.

02-19-2016, 04:50 PM
It's actually my first time with beer. I've done about 12 batches of mead so far with moderate to decent success. Happy to share the details as I'd like to try this again soon:

-Creating the must/wort> Boiled ingredients 60 mins (one potential issue here, my wife decided to cover the boil about half way in since we felt it was reducing too quickly. Not fully covered, but lid added, with about a 1 inch slot to let some steam out), when finished let it cool to room temperature for quite a while (this could have been part of the issue). Then stirred up honey, water and fermaid K. Added the wort to the honey, and topped up the mixture to 2 gallons. Then pitched the rehydrated yeast. Aerated for about 5 mins with long handled spoon (everything fulled sanitized with Star San. Soaked and then sprayed down just in case).

-Day 1> Washed and sprayed down long spoon with Star San, let it sit for about 3 mins, then rinsed it and aerated for about 3-4 mins. Lots of foam. Did this twice this day. Not a whole lot of yeast activity.

-Day 2>Added one more teaspoon of fermaid K, repeated aeration process twice. Once in the morning and once in evening.. Fermentation is quite healthy now. About half an inch of Krausen on top. Sprayed inner lid with Star San and replaced after 2 mins

-Day 3>Repeated aeration procedure twice daily. Once in the morning and once in evening. Very healthy fermentation and about an inch of krausen has built back up. Soaked turkey baster, hydrometer and sample container in Star San solution and took gravity reading. It's already at 1.020. Poured sample back into fermenter. Sprayed inner lid with Star San and replaced after 2 mins.

-Day 4>Repeated aeration procedure twice more this day. Same fermentation level. Because of speedy ferment, decided to repeat the gravity sampling, to discover it was at 1.010 (although earlier posts indicate I need glasses since I'd thought it was 1.000 but I digress). Poured sample back into fermenter. Sprayed inner lid with Star San and replaced after 2 mins.

-Day 5> Noticed no activity in airlock in the morning so popped off lid to investigate. Liquid absolutely still. No sign of fermentation and no krausen. Looks like it did before we'd even pitched the yeast and has some murky cloudiness. Biggest observation is the rotten vegetable/skunky smell hitting my nostrils. To the forums!

02-19-2016, 06:14 PM
OK... I think you need to allow the water to boil off in a fairly wide open kettle to prevent DMS from being collected. I believe that DMS is a product of some grains rather than others. Two -row I think tends not to produce very much but some grains produce a great deal when boiled and the way to deal with the production of DMS is to get rid of it by allowing it to leave the kettle in the steam. (see for example: http://beersmith.com/blog/2012/04/10/dimethyl-sulfides-dms-in-home-brewed-beer/ )

If you were brewing all grain you assume that there will be a known volume of liquid that boils off and your starting volume takes that into account. If I were usung extract the only reason to boil for any length of time is to utilize the acids in the hops but you could for example add hops to water and boil the water for say 45 minutes and then add your extract... A closed kettle (or something like a closed kettle) traps any DMS and in fact concentrates it.
The second problem is that you allowed the wort to reach room temperature under its own steam (pun intended). You really want to assist the cooling by perhaps standing the kettle in an ice bath. The longer the wort takes to cool the more likely the chance is for bacterial infection. The aroma you experience sounds as if you got the jackpot - DMS and bacterial infection.
Now, I am out of my depth talking about aeration: wine makers (mead makers) swear by aeration. Aeration allows yeast to reproduce and repair their cell structure. Brewers avoid aeration after they pitch their yeast. Aeration enables the yeast to operate aerobically and aerobic operation shuts down fermentation. Shutting down fermentation MAY allow competing bacteria to gain a foothold... I don't know... but speaking out of ignorance I avoided aeration when I made my braggot - and in truth I have made one braggot tht got to the bottle and I have one braggot still in the fermenter... Others in this forum with far more experience than I may dismiss my concern with aeration and braggot... so you may have hit the trifecta!

02-19-2016, 06:54 PM
Hey bernardsmith,

thanks so much for such helpful responses. Starting to get a really good picture on where we may have gone wrong.

One quick note: We were in general following Ken Schraam's 'Don't Cry For Me Spargentina' braggot recipe, which seems to have left out quite a bit on fundamental brewing steps. However, it does specify to boil the extract and hops together. I hadn't realized you don't normally need to boil extract, so very helpful to know!

02-19-2016, 07:27 PM
In addition to bernards comments, You mentioned once that you rinsed after sanitizing. Did you rinse every thing every time after sanitizing? StarSan is no-rinse.

02-19-2016, 07:48 PM
Not everytime, but occasionally. I know Star San is no rinse, but still feel a bit squirrly about adding suds into my mead. Does it introduce potential contamination by rinsing?

02-19-2016, 07:59 PM
It can, I suppose it depends what you are rinsing with. Charlie (cant remember last name but he owns 5 star) says it actually breaks down to a nutrient.

02-20-2016, 05:31 PM
I'll shake/drain the excess off, but Starsan has to be THE best thing available for sanitization...not as cheap as bleach, but a little goes a long way, and with bleach, ya GOTTA rinse....I make a batch up, stores mixed well enough, and use spray bottles for most of my usage- works well enough, other than perhaps on siphon hoses and all, that'll go in the bucket ...

02-20-2016, 09:45 PM
Not suggesting that this was an issue BUT water is NOT sanitized so when you wash off Star-san with tap water you are adding contaminates AND if your water is chlorinated then that chlorine can in fact cause problems... it can help produce off flavors from phenols ( http://beer-geeking.blogspot.com/2011/05/water-chlorine-chloramine-and.html)... and can inhibit fermentation

02-21-2016, 12:03 AM
Good points on the Star San, and I've done enough research over the last couple days that I see no reason to rinse it off anymore.
Well, the poor ol' braggot went down the sink last night, and I've got the ingredients for a do-over all ready to go! I'll try a one gal batch this time, just in case. Darn honey is expensive!

We'll boil just the hops this time for 45 mins and add the malt in the last 15. We've got a couple bags of ice to fill the sink too, to cool the kettle down ASAP. Other than that, I guess the last big difference we'll try is to just aerate it once, after pitching, and let the Beer Gods take over after that.

A couple last minute questions for you fine folks:

1) Would you recommend nixing the staggered nutrient addition for this simple braggot?

2)Our last batch, during it's best days had such a thick krausen sitting on top; is it best to leave it be and not stir it into the batch? I've heard this can be problematic as well.


02-21-2016, 12:59 PM
Don't pretend to have ANY expertise in making braggots but when I brew beer I leave it well alone (and I think grains and the sugars that you extract from grains probably have enough nutrients for the yeast)..So my suggestion would be to leave it alone and treat the braggot as if it was a fortified beer rather than a flavored mead

03-05-2016, 04:39 AM
Fairly new to this myself and tried my hand at a braggot recently. I had a smell that sounds very similar--off, in a way that I could not describe easily. Cabbage sounds close enough. In my case I made a short mead.. not technically a braggot I guess as there was no malt used. But I realized that it was the hops causing the smell, I used 2 oz steeped and added to a one gallon brew with an OG of 1.060.

I almost put it down the drain but decided instead to let it sit. I've had four bottles now and the last one was actually good (the first were quite clearly anything but good). I wonder if the potency of hops in this setting just needs to age. Jury is still out on if it will age enough to be worth making again... although I did try another version with a higher OG and a lower amount of hops.. smells fantastic but it's only a few days in..

03-05-2016, 11:23 AM
I see others have said as much already, but cabbage sounds like DMS. Dimethyl sulfide. Most common cause is covering the pot while it's boiling, and not boiling thoroughly enough. I would check www.howtobrew.com for any remedies the author John Palmer may recommend.

Note: DMS is reported to smell more like creamed corn than cabbage, unless there is an infection present. Then cabbage is the indicator.