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-   -   Sour Graff (Beer/Cider Hybrid with Brett) (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f127/sour-graff-beer-cider-hybrid-brett-278707/)

othellomcbane 11-04-2011 02:46 AM

Sour Graff (Beer/Cider Hybrid with Brett)
Looking to get some thoughts / advice on this.

I'm thinking I'm going to try a Graff with Brett for my first sour. I'll probably do something similar to the original recipe in the Graff thread on this site, though I might go for a 50/50 split of cider / wort. My one caveat is that, every summer, there's a strong possibility I'll have to move. I live in Brooklyn currently, and after my next move, I'd like to be somewhere outside the city with more space for this kind of thing. But if that happens this summer, I'll have about ~7 months before I would need to bottle this sucker. Not drink just bottle.

So here are my hopes: since cider hits a really low FG with even normal ale yeast, I'm hoping the cider part of the recipe will help this concoction reach terminal gravity a bit sooner. I'm not sure if that's a safe assumption or not. I don't plan on doing anything with a particularly high ABV, for the same reasons.

I've also read, I believe, that the lower PH of cider helps Brett along.

There are two things I haven't decided yet. One, I've considered maybe using unpasteurized cider from a local farmer's market. I realize there's some inherent risk in this, even with a wild ale, but other ciders I've had with unpasteurized fruit had a really nice funk to them, even without a deliberate Brett / bug addition. Would unpasteurized cider maybe help me along there, or is it taking too many chances?

Regardless of the cider, I plan to cultivate a starter of Orval dregs (two or three bottles) over the next week or so and pitch that. Sound reasonable, or would something else work better? I'm also debating whether to pitch normal ale yeast (probably Belgian Ardennes, since I have that going in another batch) at the same time.

Thoughts in general? I think it sounds delicious, and I'm definitely going to try it at some point. Again, I don't plan to actually drink this for a year or two. I just would like to hopefully bottle it before June, and let it age from there.

dougdecinces 11-04-2011 03:51 AM

It sounds like a good idea. Some half-drunk opinions/idead, I would like to throw in:

*I know the graff recipe asks for malt extract. I would almost prefer to use 2-row or pilsner malt and mash high so the brett have something to feed on.

*If you want the beer to be sour, try to find some apples or juice that are inherently sour. If you have the ability to press your own crab apples, I may recommend that. Worst case scenario, is you can crush a few pounds, treat them with campden and pectic enzyme and add them directly to primary.

*I would feel much safer getting a packet of brett culture from a LHBS. Unless you are only making a 1-2 gallon batch, it's much safer to do that than just using dregs. If you're worried about cost, you can always make a starter and freeze some to use for later batches. Now, the types of brett and what they bring to the party are beyond my expertise, so I'm yielding the floor to the more edumacated for suggestions.

othellomcbane 11-04-2011 02:11 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I'm definitely open to the idea of using a Wyeast packet instead of dregs, if people think that would be better. It'd be cheaper than multiple bottles of Orval. (I could also do a packet plus Orval; I already have one undrank bottle in my fridge.)

JollyIsTheRoger 11-04-2011 02:46 PM

I like this idea, I just bottled my first graff a week ago(a stout graff) and it was kind of sour at bottling. I'm mainly posting to tag this, I may end up making a gallon batch of this in the future, but I don't have to extra stuff for sours right now. Good luck.

othellomcbane 11-07-2011 03:08 PM

Bumping this, I need some advice.

Last night I made a small starter and pitched two bottles worth of Orval dregs. I don't plan on building them up a ton, I mainly just want to know if they're still viable. There's a relatively thick layer of yeast sediment at the bottom of the starter, but it's kind of gray and old looking (not really the normal tan color of yeast.) From what I've read, it sounds like Brett can take weeks to show any signs of activity, so I'm not sure how long I'd have to wait before my starter proves the Brett's even alive.

My concern with just pitching the dregs into a beer, along with a primary sacc yeast, is that the dregs may all be dead or something, and nothing will happen. Is that a realistic concern, or should I just pitch the 2-bottles-worth of dregs and assume something will catch, eventually?

Appreciate any advice.

stevehollx 11-08-2011 02:01 AM


Originally Posted by othellomcbane (Post 3463842)
From what I've read, it sounds like Brett can take weeks to show any signs of activity, so I'm not sure how long I'd have to wait before my starter proves the Brett's even alive.

My vial of Brett L from WL never really 'showed' activity in 1 cup of 1.030. I think after three days I doubled up the started to 2 cups. Eventually it formed a pellicle after a week, but no krausen, etc. The FG of the starter in the week only dropped like 10 points. Then when pitching, it took of like Sacc would with 36 hours and there was krausen after 2 days. Fermented slow and steady for about 3 weeks, and then the krausen fell. Two months in now and I still get an airlock bubble once in a while when checking on it.

You have to be slow/patient with Brett--especially if you're getting them from dregs. If you are in a hurry, just get a vial/pack of Brett to add to the Orval dregs.

You should try a 100% Brett fermentation with the cider and see how it goes. Brett B could be good in cider.

othellomcbane 11-08-2011 05:38 AM

Okay, that's reassuring. I was just curious if there's any possibility that two bottles of Orval might not contain any living Brett. It seems unlikely, but there doesn't appear to be a good way to test its viability as there is with Sacc yeast. Which makes me worried. But again, it seems unlikely that between two bottles (and maybe I'll just pick up a third, instead of a Wyeast pack) there would be no living Brett left.

I picked up 2 gallons of pasteurized cider from the farmer's market, and then later found a gallon of unpasteurized cider. (None with preservatives.) The unpasteurized, in addition to the dregs, should be enough Brett / wild yeast to get a good funk going, I hope.

fivepoundpossum 11-09-2012 12:58 PM

how did this come out? i made a batch along these lines about a month ago and would be really excited to hear how this tasted. cheers!

othellomcbane 11-09-2012 08:15 PM

Crazy, I was just working on my blog post about this. I forgot I even made a thread about it. The blog write-up should be posted next week, it'll have lots more details... but basically, it came out much sweeter than I expected, and not all that funky. Interesting, but not great, at this point. The malt extract gave it more body and sugar, obviously, so I was hoping the Brett would still provide a nice dry tartness. It's not quite there. Even though it's been a full year, I'm curious if more aging will still bring out more funk. But it's still tasty, and other people I've given it to seem to like it more than I do.

I'll post the blog write-up here when I have it done.

fivepoundpossum 11-10-2012 01:29 PM

interesting. i would have thought the bret would have eaten up those dextrins in the ME. i'll be curious to read your post. cheers!

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