A Graf or Graff is a term used to describe either an apple cider that has been hopped, or a beer where apple juice or cider has been added to the wort to enhance the flavor of the finished beer. Graf beer seems to have recently become more popular in the home brewing community.
A couple of months ago, I decided that I would try my hand at creating an Oktoberfest Graf Ale hybrid beer. I wanted to capture the feeling of the harvest in my beer without producing an overly fruity flavor, and figured that an Oktoberfest Graf Ale would be the perfect match. I was very pleased with the final product, and it was well received by everyone who tried it.
I kept the apple cider level to only 16% of the total wort so that it would only accentuate the beer instead of taking the focus away from it. As the beer fermented, the majority of the apple flavors were removed from the graff; in fact, before I told those who had a glass, most were unaware that it had apple added to it. On my next batch, I may try going as high as 25% to pick up a bit more of the apple, but to be honest, I am very happy with the outcome and may just replicate the recipe next time around. You may also want to consider back sweetening your graf as well, if you want some extra sweetness.
Here is a quick version of the West Coast Brewer Oktoberfest Harvest Graf Ale all grain recipe (6 gallons).
4 lbs. German Pilsner Malt
6 lbs German Munich Malt
1 lb German Dark Munich Malt
.5 lbs. Weyermann Caramunich II
1 oz German Tradition (60 min)
1 gallon of fresh apple juice or apple cider with no additives or preservatives (add at secondary)
Drop me a line if you have any questions and happy brewing!
Here is a photo of the graf beer. It still needs to age for a while to bring a bit of the haze out, but aside from that, it is delicious and ready to consume!