Sunday, June 30, 2013

Graff Cider Tasting

In late September of last year, I brewed a batch of malted cider - or graff - with the intention that I would serve it at my Thanksgiving dinner, as I have done for the past few years now. Well, like most of my home brewing plans, I never got around to bottling the cider in time for the event and the mini-cask idea didn't go anywhere. As such, I bottled the cider sometime in December and the bottles have been quietly aging since then. The process I used to make this graff is similar to those found elsewhere online, although I prefer to blend a mixture of fresh pressed cider with the un-hopped (boiled) wort from a simple English bitter and ferment the whole thing with a characterful English yeast. While some recipes call for 10-15 IBU worth of hopping, this recipe contained no hops at all. Lastly, after 7+ months of aging, I have just started drinking this batch and I am glad I waited as long as I did. A definite re-brew for the Fall. 

Graff III : Malted Cider 

Appearance - Pours a mostly clear, amber-orange color with a small white head that has surprisingly good retention and lacing. Clarity improves as the cider warms.
 
Aroma - Light, fruity apples and malty caramel with a very slight spice character that suggests cinnamon and clove. Clean and neutral yeast character.

Taste - Moderate, clean apple flavor with a semi-sweet, dark caramel malt character. Similar spiciness, which may be yeast related, although the overall yeast character is mostly neutral. No hops or bitterness and the cider finishes dry/tart, but not excessively so.  
 
Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-high and the cider has a rather rounded mouthfeel that is nearing "creamy;" unusual considering dryness and low F.G.

Drinkability & Notes - Certainly the best graff cider I have made to date, although I wouldn't mind a stronger apple aroma and flavor. The amount of caramel character seems fine, it really adds some needed sweetness and mouthfeel, and the Thames Valley II yeast did a great job of adding some character and keeping the cider from being too dry. I still don't know where the spice notes are coming from, although these fruitier and lower attenuating yeasts really make for a more pleasant tasting cider than the usual Montracht/Nottingham/US-05 yeasts that people often use. Moving forward, I will certainly brew this stuff again, although I'll cut back the amount of beer wort in favor of adding more fresh pressed cider.
 
6.3% ABV, 0 IBU, O.G: 1.052, F.G: 1.004, Wyeast Thames Valley II. Recipe Here

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