Tom first came across mead when he was on a road trip in the US. He'd always been a massive fan of honey, and was really excited to see meaderies in the US making great meads.
When Tom came back to London, he noticed that there wasn’t really anyone making mead with the same love, care and craft as in the US. At the time, a lot of the mead in the UK wasn't made to be a serious contender to wine or beer, and was often really sweet and strong in alcohol.
Tom started experimenting with different honeys and yeast to create a drink that celebrated the depth of flavour from honey, but also held true to the traditional ingredients of mead.
After many batches and a bit of experimentation, Tom launched Gosnells: a modern twist traditional mead that's light and refreshing, evoking the flavours of summer and celebrating the origin of the honey.
Introducing our first vintage, made with 100%, local raw London honey.
I had always dreamt of making a mead with local London honey, in fact, the dream has always been to keep bees on the roof and make mead from the honey downstairs, so whilst we’re not there yet this is a step towards it.
What’s amazing about honey is that the flavour is so different depending on what the bees have been foraging. Bees generally collect from plants and flowers within a 3-mile radius of the hive. For our main Gosnells of London, we use a Spanish Orange blossom honey – this means that the beehives are in the middle of the orange groves when the blossom is in bloom, so the bees predominantly forage on this, giving it it’s signature flavour.
The situation with local, and especially London honey is really different – there’s such a variety of plants and flowers that the flavour of the honey (and the mead) is really different from year to year and even month to month.
It’s taken quite some time for us to be able to source enough honey for us to be able to make a mead made with 100% London honey – this year we’ve used almost half a tonne!
We decided to brew something stronger than our normal Gosnells to celebrate this amazing honey, so we’ve used our standard house yeast, along with a more robust wine yeast to help drive the fermentation to a celebratory 12.5%.
It’s really exciting to be able to create a drink which completely encompasses the flowers and blossom of the city. Our 2018 vintage is incredibly complex and deep, with notes of blackcurrant, sloe and a hint of spice on the finish.
First off some jargon:
A form of mead or beer made with half honey, and half malted barley
So there we have it, a braggot is a half beer, half mead hybrid. We’d always thought about making one, after all with so many friends at craft breweries in London it was only natural.
So, when Josh at Brewdog Tower Hill, London got in touch to talk about an oak aged collaboration, we knew it had to be a braggot.
We were very excited to go and brew with their shiny new kit in the bar at Tower Hill – it’s bigger than some of the breweries we’ve been in, and certainly shinier!
We had an awesome day talking to Josh about the brew, and certainly learnt a lot more about beer brewing than we knew before.
After a lot of discussions, we decided to go for a lightly hopped base beer, primarily comprised of pilsner malt, with some flaked oats and wheat for structure. After this was complete we made a batch of mead, made with our orange blossom honey.
We then mixed the two together in a foeder (a "foo-der" is a long, large barrel, in this case, 2000 litres) and pitch the Brewdog house yeast. The braggot was left to ferment out in the foeder, and remained in contact with the wood for 108 days!
It’s been really interesting (and fun!) to pop into BD TH and taste the beer as it’s evolved over the past 3 months – tasting the oaked notes coming out and the sweetness drop has been fascinating.
We're launching this at the meadery on 23rd November - see here for more details!
Our first braggot in tank
So many shiny fermenters!
The mash tun
Our braggot in the foeder