Brewed on the same day as Hopyard Harvest, this beer/cider hybrid was inspired by Stephen King’s Dark Tower books. A drink referred to as “Graf” is consumed in the books with little to describe what it actually is other than that it is an apple based alcoholic beverage. Homebrewers, of course, jumped on this and there are a ton of recipes for various versions online. Why they mostly add a second “F” I’m not sure, but I stuck with the trend.
Some Graff recipes call for apple cider with only a bit of malts added, others are mostly beer with some apple cider added and others, like mine are close to half and half. I used the same mash for this and Hopyard Harvest, splitting it. That was only a two gallon batch and this was half apple juice, so a fairly standard mash size was used.
Once I had collected about three gallons from the mash, I started the boil. It got only one small hop charge at the beginning of the boil. I used East Kent Goldings, though almost anything would work just as well, and only added enough to take the beer to about fifteen IBUs. Most people online warn that too many hops will spoil this drink, throwing it way off balance, but I would have liked more bitterness.
After the boil, I chilled the wort and then added two and a half gallons of apple juice in the fermenter, doubling the volume. I used a neutral American ale yeast and fermented on the warm side, racking after primary fermentation and then bottling after a couple of weeks in secondary, just like most normal beers.
My Graf turned out to be a nice, light ale with lots of apple flavor and little else. There was slight malt character but no detectable hops. I found it to be a bit dull. Not bad, but boring. I love the idea and I’m somewhat glad that I stuck with a light, simple recipe first to see how it would go, but I’m itching to try another Graf with darker malts, more hop character, maybe some ester producing English ale yeast. Sounds like a stout or a porter. And that sounds good to me.
A dark Graf has been on my list of potential recipes pretty much since I first tried this light one, hopefully I will someday fit it in my schedule, because I think it has a lot of potential. Until then, I will have tasting notes for this beer. My recipe is below, though I admit that the Hopyard Harvest was my main concern on brew day and my notes for this beer are bare.
Style: Graf/Apple Ale
Brew Date: September 4, 2013
Serve Date: October, 2013
Expected FG: 1.012
Approximate ABV: 5%
92% American Pale Malt
8% Amber Malt
Plus a lot of apple juice
Hops (approximately 2.5 gallon boil)
.4 oz East Kent Golding @ 60 min