What is Graf?

Whoever developed the kegerator was a genius. And Snuggies—why would you not want sleeves on your blanket? The creation of the camera phone changed our society forever. And don’t even get me started on macaroni and cheese.

All this to say: great things are born when two items come together to make one. With so many awesome blended products out there, it’s no surprise that hard cider also has its own blended product: graf. So what is it, exactly? Sometimes spelled “graff,” this lesser-known drink brings together cider and beer.

graf

Graf’s history is not as extensive as you might think. The modern version of this beverage made its debut in the Stephen King series The Dark Tower. The only specifics of this apple-based beverage divulged in the novel is that it’s the result of fusing apples and malt into a drink. There’s no telling if what we now know as graf is derived from the novels or if its evolution was by pure coincidence.

A simple way of developing graf is simply mixing apple juice with beer wort and then fermenting it with ale yeast. Defined as a fruit beer or apple-based beer, which dates back to around 7,000 B.C., graf has a generally loose set of parameters. This leads to a wide variety of interpretations by cider makers and brewers alike, pushing the envelope of what this hybrid can be.

For example, graf that’s mostly apple juice with only a small batch of lightly hopped ale wort makes for a drink that is more cider-centric. Malt styles, yeast strains and additional spices and herbs can be added for more complexity and depth.

Revelation Craft Brewing Company, in Rehoboth Beach, Del., created its own version, Puffa Puffa Graf Cider.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BV5WJTbA5Ky/?taken-by=revbeer

Described as a “beer cider hybrid,” Revelation made its graf 100% gluten-free. At 5.3% ABV, this graf is described as having amazing apple aromas and flavors in the brewery’s cider-forward approach to the style.

On a recent trip to Rehoboth, I had the pleasure of trying Puffa Puffa, and the flavor was very distinct. With a definitive apple undertone, it had a strong beer influence. It is an unexpected, surprisingly delicious taste resembling an unfiltered cider.

With no strict guidelines, the playing field for graf is wide open and is still being defined, which leaves the level of creativity in the hands of the cider maker.

Have you ever tried graf? Have you ever attempted to make it? Tell us your thoughts in the conversation below!

  • Feature photo: Pexels

4 Comments

  1. Frank on December 3, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Fermenting a 50/50 cider-beer graf with English Cider yeast. Using cascade hops for bittering and Willamette for aroma.

  2. Keith Colpitts on November 5, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Just had a Brett Graf called Hammermill , unfortunately it was an acetic mess, nose and palate were vinegar and nothing else

  3. Eileen Uchima on November 22, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Just racked my graf to secondary. Very apple-forward since I used a light ale base. Tasty and 7.2% ABV

  4. Gene Daniels on December 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    I’ve made several graffs, the best are about 50/50. Below is my latest, and best, recipe for 1 gal:

    1 lb Amber DME
    8 ox 60L Crystal malt for steeping grains
    2 cans FAJC
    juice from 2 lb crab apples
    Nottingham ale yeast

    1) Steep the grains in 10 cups water for 20 min
    2) add the DME and boil for 5 min
    3) after cooled to room temp, pour into fermenter
    4) add FAJC, crab apple juice, and yeast

    Starting gravity will be around 1.070 or 75. Should ferment out in 10 days. I then bottle carb for 3 weeks.

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