Graff, a hopped hard cider

Graff, a hopped hard cider

Mike and I decided we wanted to brew up a hard cider for the winter. In contrast to most commercial American ciders, we wanted to put together a hard, tart cider. The closest commercial examples we found were British ciders. We found French and Belgian ciders to be nice, but we didn’t really like their “champagne” taste.

At first, we wanted to put together a traditional “American frontier style” cider. After some reading, we found that these ciders are a little problematic. They take a long time to lose their turpentine taste mellow out. So after some more reading, we found graff, a “malty, slightly hopped cider”.

So, we drove out to the edge of Boston to a local orchard and bought five gallons of unpasteurized cider. We took one gallon of cider, poured it into a clean one gallon glass jug, put an airlock on it and stuck it in the corner. It’s still in the corner, we’ll probably open it up around April.

But… with the rest of the cider:

Nov 21, 2010 9PM
We took the other four gallons of cider and dumped them into a clean five gallon carboy. We added one crushed “Campden Tablet” per gallon to kill any wild yeast and added some peptic enzyme to increase clarity and the amount of fermentable sugars. Left the carboy to sit overnight to let the chemicals kick in.
Nov 22, 2010 9:00PM
We then prepared a 3/4 gallon wort for 1/2# crystal 60L and 1 ounce of torrified wheat (head retention) and let steep at 155°F for 30 minutes
Nov 22, 2010 9:30PM
We sparged the grains with 1/4 gallons of 170\deg;F water and discarded the grains
Nov 22, 2010 9:40PM
We then added 1# amber and 1# light DME
Nov 22, 2010 10:00PM
When the boiling started, we added 1oz Crystal (3.3% AA) hops and boiled for 30 mins
Nov 22, 2010 10:30PM
We then cooled the wort
Nov 22, 2010 11:00PM
When the wort cooled, we pitched the yeast – White Labs Saison Ale Yeast WLP565

I’ll be back to add gravity notes and notes about fermentation time.

As a whole, it tasted pretty good. It finished out around 8% ABV which was only present in a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Hints of rotten apples and turpentine lessened with age. After two months, really enjoyable high gravity cider. Would definitely make again, needs to age longer.

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