Fearful Symmetries

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03 May, 2016

Melobraggot? Bragomel?: Marionberry Braggot by Rogue Ales



The final entry in my short run of brackett tastings is a fruited take on the style - Rogue's Marionberry Braggot. A mead made with fruit is called a melomel so perhaps this could be called a melobraggot. A bragomel? They just roll off the tongue, doesn't they? If you use it like a mouthwash, does it become a Gargamel?

I'm here all week. Tip your servers!

Rogue Ales is located in Newport, Oregon and I will cop to not being particularly familiar with the brewery. I have reviewed only one of their beers - Roguebier Rye Ale, which I liked. And that is about it as far as my Roguish knowledge extends. Marionberry Braggot is apparently part of the brewery's Rogue Farms series which I presume means that some percentage of the ingredients in the brew were grown on a Rogue farm. Rogue farms grow grains, hops, fruit, nuts, and also raise animals. I am sincerely hoping that I never see a Rogue free range chicken beer on offer.

The label indicates that several of the braggot's ingredients were grown on a Rogue farm including marionberries. I had to look them up because the name didn't sound at all familiar. Marionberries are a variety of blackberry brought to life in Oregon in 1956 which makes them hyper-local for Rogue.

As with the other bracketts and braggots I've sampled recently, my bottle of Marionberry Braggot has been aging in my cellar since I bought the bottle in 2014. That was a big year for braggots, apparently, as my previous two were also vintage 2014. That trend petered out quickly.

Marionberry Braggot pours a deep brown that has a reddish purple tint. Just like Sprecher's brew, this one was very turbid. I got a small light tan head that lasted for 20 seconds or thereabouts. If I held my glass to the light just right I could see some bubbles going up.

The aroma was very sweet with a lovely honey scent being supported by the marionberries. This certainly had the sweetest aroma of all my braggots.

The same can be said of the taste. Not only was the honey prominent but also fairly sweet. This braggot is 11.42% A.B.V. which makes me wonder exactly how much honey was used to make it that big and with that much sweetness. The berries were not shy about making themselves known either. They added a touch of sweetness and a bit of tart berry goodness. I was happy to taste some carbonation as well because it really helped tone down the sweetness.

This is a big, boozy beverage and I could most certainly taste it. That boozy heat was fairly restrained until the finish. Here the honey faded leaving the marionberry to deal with the alcoholic heat. I'd swear there was also a little bit of spicy hop bitterness in there for good measure. Lacing was completely absent.

Just like Sprecher's Braggot, Marionberry has large booze component to it. I think the marionberries and the marionberry juice helped tone down the alcohol sting here but it had still a very warm, astringent taste, especially at the finish. Beowulf could have made Molotov cocktails with this stuff and dispatched Grendel and his mother with ease.

In addition to having a great honey flavor that of the perfect level of sweetness, I really liked the fruit in this braggot. It made the brew a little more toothsome but also added some tarteness at the same time. However, just as with its Sprecher cousin, the alcohol taste was just too strong for my palate. It was too strong and stood out from the honey and fruit too distinctly. It may very well be my lack of cellaring know-how but, considering that Honey Queen didn't seem to suffer from a similar period of aging in my basement, I am beginning to think that high potency braggots are either fated to be fire water because grain somehow throws a spanner in the works or Rogue and Sprecher need to practice braggot making. Meads/melomels with higher A.B.V.s than 11% don't taste like this nor do (all) beers of double-digit potency.

Surely this means I must conduct more research.

Junk food pairing: Marionberry Braggot pairs well with Hostess fruit pies or their nearest generic equivalent. They will help take the edge off and complement the fine marionberry flavor of the brew.

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|| Palmer, 7:11 PM

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