Straight from the horses mouth!
“It is often said that if you want to move ahead you can learn a lot from looking back. The brewers from Thornbridge are always keen to innovate in the beers they produce and recognise that inspiration can come from many sources including the past.
Such is the case with Bracia their new beer. Bracia is the Celtic name for a beverage brewed in Iron Age Europe with reference found on a Roman inscription at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. Little is known about this except that it was high in alcohol, brewed with cereals and, most probably, honey. “We obviously wouldn’t want to produce exact replicas of beers from the past but the story of Bracia did get us thinking” says Stefano Cossi, Thornbridge’s Head Brewer.
It was the use of honey that seems to have triggered Stefano’s inspiration as he explains “I thought Chestnut Honey would make an ideal ingredient for a rich, dark beer where its complex flavours would subtly blend with the roasted and toasted notes of specialty malts”. Further research by the Thornbridge brew team identified that the Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) was introduced into England by the Romans. It is a magnificent tree with twisted bark, large narrow glossy leaves and, in autumn, spiny fruits that contain edible nuts (castagne) that are delicious when roasted. The flowers, arranged in catkins, appear in early summer, and from July the mysteriously dark honey can be harvested. This is intensely flavoured, rich and smooth, slightly bitter and pungent.
Thornbridge’s Bracia has been infused with a generous amount of dark and bitter Chestnut Honey that was sourced by Stefano from Beekeeper Onelia Pin in the Alpine foothills of North East Italy. Bracia’s careful use of Malts (Maris Otter, Brown, Munich , Dark Crystal, Black, Chocolate, Peated), Roasted Barley, Hops (Target, Pioneer, Hallertau Northern Brewer and Sorachi Ace) produce a truly unique beer. Its aromas are of chestnut honey, cappuccino, white chocolate, dark fruits and vibrant fresh peel. The mouthfeel is velvety and rich, with notes of coffee, chocolate, liquorice and hazelnuts with warming alcohol, cocoa and a little peat in the finish. “Bracia is a great drink now” asserts Stefano “but I think its flavour will mature and it is certainly a beer you can age for sometime and experience its evolution – after all looking back helped us produce the beer in the first place”
my opinion – very good – Available January’09 on Beermerchants.com – the aroma reminded me so much of my childhood, taking honey from a lady down the road – funily enough in Italy, not far from where Stephano obtained his honey.