Monday 7 March 2011

Don’t forget the honey (or how nice is my Bracia)

Had Thornbridge’s Bracia at the British Guild of Beer Writers dinner a couple of years ago. I felt it was the best beer on the table, but hadn’t had any since. And now I make its re-acquaintance and I just had to wax lyrical about it. Soothing, smoothing, creamy, rustically roasty, burnt and burnished are the words that flash onto the screen of my mind. And look at it: beneath its crown of espresso white foam, it is the darkest beer I have seen for a long time. It’s a big beer as well, a big slab of a beer. Coffee beans, chocolate, almond paste, alcohol, fiery bitterness with a tongue-tingling bite on the end of the palate; but I also think sambuca, chocolate coated coffee beans, honey — the bitter bite of chestnut honey. The chestnut honey adds a herbal-like sweetness to the beer, a breakfast honey coated toast character. This is a beer that really stands up and declares itself — it is impeccably made, an imperial stout porter style with honey adding a restrained sweetness to things. It’s the beer world’s equivalent of a sauternes albeit with hops and roast barley; it’s a sumptuous coffee cup of a beer, a dessert beer, a beer that I reckon would man up to a creamy, salty, stinky, sloppy blue cheese that oozes across the plate like an oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe, more prosaically, even link arms with a dish of baklava and serenade the palate with a sweet song of reflection; it’s a beer that demands of me study and contemplation for its liqueur-like qualities. Stunning. I think I like it.


  1. Yep, it's a pretty special beer. I've managed to stock up on a few bottles because I too-quickly ran out of the last batch. Stunning beer.

  2. Couldn’t hold onto them for long enough, mind you that’s always the same with Thonrbdige’s beers, so far I have only managed to save a couple of Alliances.

  3. Bracia is a triumph of vision and perseverance.

    Few breweries have someone who could formulate such a recipe; few could tie up such a fair amount of capital and capacity to only release such a beer when when it was absolutely on the button.

    Thornbridge are used to having plaudits thrown their way from all directions. I'm happy to have flung a few myself. Sometimes, Bracia being the perfect example, those plaudits are absolutely deserved. Without question.

  4. My first and probably last bottle sits in my cupboard. I don't know whether to indulge because who knows how long I've got on this planet or ride my luck and save it a bit to mature and (potentially) get richer with age.

    Either way on the recommendations so far I might get a second or third bottle...

  5. Got one in the larder now and to say i'm looking forward to it is an understatement. Especially after reading this. Bracia and Baklava? quite possibly the nicest - sounding thing I've heard all year.