Featured as a strong ale for winter in BEER November 2009. For more strong beers see previous post.
Origin: Ashton-in-the-Water, Derbyshire, England
Rising star of British craft breweries Thornbridge have an impressive range of unusual beers but perhaps this is the most remarkable one they’ve produced so far, although it won’t be to everyone’s taste. It certainly caused a stir when chosen as the beer to match the dessert course at the British Guild of Beer Writers’ dinner in 2008.
According to the brewery, it’s based on a Celtic beverage allegedly called Bracia that involved cereals and honey, although this account has been challenged. Whatever the truth, the Thornbridge interpretation is a complex creature, with an ingredients list that runs to Maris Otter pale, brown, Munich, dark crystal, black, chocolate and peated malt, roasted barley, Target, Pioneer, Hallertau Northern Brewer and Sorachi Ace hops, chestnut honey from beekeper Onelia Pin, based near brewer Stefano Cossi’s former home in northeast Italy. The whole is fermented with champagne yeast and should mature for at least a year.
This is a black beer with a big, thick brown head and a dark malt, honey, date and spice aroma. A thick and cakey gravy, peat and leather palate is mainly sweet but with complex bittering herbs, perhaps a tangy of savory and a definite splash of roast coffee. A very long and tasty warming but fresh vegetal finish has more dates, late emerging honey and a roast barley and bittering hop bite just about offsetting the sweetness.
Whatever you make it, be thankful there are now brewers in Britain contemplating leftfield brews like this.
The final beer selected for this piece was Amager Imperial Stout.
Read more about Thornbridge Bracia at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/thornbridge-bracia/97342/