The Honey Queen from Sam Adams is a braggot – a mead made with malt (or more simply, part mead, part beer). Which means, unlike most meads, this one is not gluten free. Sam Adams is part of the Boston Beer Company, which is the second largest brewery in America and number 10 in the world.
It’s good news for the mead industry when one of the nation’s largest beer companies is making a braggot – a sign that the growth in the mead industry is catching on. Here is what Sam Adams (the company, not the man) has to say about their braggot:
The harmonious blend of mead and beer, known as a Braggot, takes us back to medieval times, dating back as far as the 12th century. To capture that floral honey essence we used a combination of three unique honeys, along with the complexity of the hops, and the addition of chamomile to create this unique Braggot. This whimsical brew has a floral and slightly tart sweetness that gives way to a much awaited honey finish.
It pours a pale amber, medium gold with a significant head of rich foam that slowly dissipates to a lacy coating of bubbles on the surface.
The Honey Queen uses 3 honey varieties – clover, orange blossom, and alfalfa honey as well as camomile. The floral notes from the honey is definitely present in the nose. Just as present is earthy grains with slight toasted notes from the malt. I’m not sure if I smell any camomile in and of itself as it gets tied up in the overall floral composition from the several varieties of honey.
It’s a medium bodied braggot that had mild carbonation in the sip. It has pale malt flavors running throughout with mildly sweet honey over the top. The honey is a little nondescript, i think from the mixture of several varieties. From the aroma I expected more sweetness, but it ended up being well balanced. The hops add bitterness that finish out the flavors, finishing dry in the throat. The camomile is more apparent in the taste than it was in the aroma, finding itself a place in the middle as the honey sweetness gives way. I also get some fruit flavors, primarily apple as i continue drinking.
It leans more toward beer than mead with the malt prominence. Overall, it has a nice first impression, however I quickly lose interest as I reach the bottom of the first glass and into the second. There are some unpleasant yeast flavors that linger on my palette and the sweetness starts to overpower the pale maltiness.
Have a small glass and leave it at that.