I have been homebrewing my own beer for a couple of years now. I have a few batches under my belt and so far only one batch that was absolutely disgusting, that I had to pitch — and that took me 1 year and a half of letting the bottles sit in the closet for a few months hoping it would fix itself.

Until today, every batch that I have ever made has been using malt extracts and then adding specialty grains usually for steeping sometimes for a pseudo-partial mash. I have never stepped up into the world of all-grain brewing yet, I have been intrigued by the BIAB (Brew in a bag) method and have always wanted to try it.

There is another thing I always wanted to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet — brew a hard cider. So, since have a tendency of never wanting to do things easy, I decided to combine those two things into one.

Today I made an adult beverage that doesn’t technically exist, its a figment of author Stephen King’s imagination, graff. In King’s Dark Tower series of novels, it is described as a sort of apple tasting beer.

From the Dark Tower wikia:

Graf is a strong hard cider or apple-based beer widely consumed in In-World. The specifics of the beverage are not mentioned (except to say that some varieties of graf are weak while others are eye-wateringly strong).

Modern homebrew aficionados have created a huge variety of graf recipes (usually calling it “graff”), originally inspired by the Dark Tower series (as there is no known historical beverage called ‘graf’). They share in common the idea that graf is a malted, slightly hopped cider however many recipes also add a number of spices and/or adjunct fruits. Some recipes have a relatively small malt contribution (being almost entirely cider) while others could be described more as apple beer (with large amounts of malt and only a small amount of apple).

Graf is said to taste tart, light and refreshing with a deceptively high alcohol content.

Now, I have never actually read any of the books in The Dark Tower Series, I’ve read some of King’s other work and have meaning to get to The Dark Tower. Because of such I don’t really feel right calling my experimental concoction ‘graf,’ or “graff.” So I’ve decided to call it “Apple Ale,” besides except for maybe fruit beer there is not a BJCP style for this stuff any how.

My recipe is based in part off of the recipe of Brandon O, a poster at Homebrewtalk.com who is regarded by many as having the be-all-end-all of graff recipes. As a matter of fact when I stopped at my LHBS to pick up supplies, while starting to describe what I was making the guy working there asked “are you making Brandon O’s recipe?” I was very happy to learn that he had made it and variations on it quite a few times and they have turned out great.

Brandon O’s recipe calls for .5 lb of Crystal 60L malt supplanted with 2 lbs of DME, as a 1 gallon batch and then mixed with 4 gallons of apple juice. Since I really wanted to try the BIAB thing, I decided to forgo the malt extract in mine and go all grain. So I put together a recipe as if I was making a 5 gallon batch of beer, specifically I modeled it as an Irish Red Ale type and then scaled it down to a 2 gallon batch. Two Parts “Irish red ale wort” and 3 parts “apple juice,” as opposed to the 1:4 ratio in the original recipe.

I was not quite sure how much water to start out with, I’ve read on different forums and other blogs that most people seemed to use 4.5 gallons of water to start off (pre mash & boil) to get a 3 gal BIAB batch. Since I was I was only doing 2 gallons of wort, I scaled down and decided to try 3 gallons of water. Sure enough when it was all done I was left with just a pinch over 2 gallons of wort.

Here is the recipe as assembled using the iBrewMaster app:

Snakebite Apple Ale
  Style: Irish Red Ale OG: 1.066 (before apple juice)  
  Type: All Grain FG: 1.018  
  Rating: 0.0 ABV: 6.29 %  
  Calories: 217 IBU’s: 33.03  
  Efficiency: 70 % Boil Size: 2.70 Gal  
  Color:   18.3 SRM  (before apple juice) Batch Size: 2.00 Gal  
  Preboil OG: 1.048 Boil Time: 60 minutes  
Fermentation Steps
Name Days / Temp
Primary 14 days @ 62.5°F
Bottle/Keg 14 days @ 74.0°F
Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage   Name Time Gravity
4.00 lbs 81.63%   Pale Malt, Maris Otter 60 mins 1.038
0.50 lbs 10.20%   Honey Malt 60 mins 1.037
0.25 lbs 5.10%   Wheat, Torrified 60 mins 1.036
0.15 lbs 3.06%   Chocolate Malt 60 mins 1.034
Amount IBU’s   Name Time AA %
0.70 ozs 30.85   Goldings, East Kent 60 mins 5
0.10 ozs 2.19   Goldings, East Kent 15 mins 5
Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Irish Ale White Labs 0004
Amount Name Time Stage
3.00 gal Apple juice 14 days Primary
Mash Profile
Sacch’ Rest 75 min @ 154.0°F
Mashout 10 min @ 170.0°F

I did not take a specific gravity reading of the 2 gallon beer wort before adding the apple juice, so I don’t know what my efficiency was. However after adding the 3 gallons of apple juice to the wort the OG read 1.048 which was much lower then what I was shooting for. We will see how it turns out. I’ll have it fermenting in primary for 2 weeks, I won’t be doing a secondary fermentation.

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