Sorry about reviving an old thread, but I have been doing a muscadine beer for a few years now and thought I would share the recipe.
1-Brew your beer as you normally would. I have tried various styles with Muscadines, but find lighter beers do better (in my opinion). For me the Muscadine is the star, and you don't want the beer (hops or grains) getting in the way of that, so I like using American Lagers or a Pal Ale is nice. Use whatever yeast is called for with your beer of choice.
2-After your beer is fermented (2 weeks) move the beer onto your grapes. I pick my own grapes and I rack the beer on to the entire grape; hull and pulp. Also, you want to be sure and crush the grapes. Grape crusher is best if you have access to one. My family owns a winery in Eastern NC so it easy for me
. If you do not have access to a crusher, then just get in there with your hands and smash them. Muscadine hulls are tough and thick, so this is a little bit of work, but must be done as this is the only way to open the fermentation up to the grape pulp and juice. I generally use a 1:1 ratio of beer to grapes. So a 5 gallon batch of beer will call for 5 gallons of grapes. As I mentioned earlier my goal is that the Muscadine be the star of this beverage, and this ratio reflects that. Also, this is whole grapes per gallon, not juice. I think you could cut the amount of grapes in half if you were just using juice. During this fermentation I like using Roeselare Ale Blend 3763 to get the full fermentation and flavor profile out of the grapes. Let the beer ferment on the grapes for 2-3 months.
3-Rack the beer off the grapes and allow aging for an additional 3-6 months. Over the previous 2-3 month fermentation the grapes will float to the top, so you can easily syphon the beer (from the bottom up) to a second container for continued aging. After a couple of months you should get a thin film of yeast on the top as this ages.
4-Bootle it! Use priming sugar as normal and bottle your beer. Its ready for drinking in 2 weeks, but 6-8 weeks is optimal and smooths out the flavor. Generally you should have a nice clear beer by this point, one that shows off the golden white or red of the grapes you used.
I think this makes a wonderful beverage and am amazed that no craft breweries have came up with something for the public. The inspiration for this beer is that I grew up eating Muscadine Grapes, but always thought Muscadine Wines were to sweet. All be it tart, this beer gives you the flavor of a Muscadine without the sugar bomb you get from Muscadine Wines.
A few other notes:
•White Muscadine Grapes make for a smoother beer than does Red. Red Muscadines have a bit of a 'bite' and Oak Chips or aging in an Oak Barrel can smooth out the flavor.
•You may want to use a filter bag on the final step before bottling. Muscadines can have a thin membrane like pulp that tends not to settle and can end up in the bottle. I have seen this more often with White Grapes rather than Red.
•Feel free to freeze the grapes after picking them. Harvest is in October, and I often do not get around to brewing until November or December. Pick your grapes and store them in 5 gallon freezer bags until it's time to brew.
•This recipe is going to yield a beverage somewhere between beer and wine. This is NOT an a beer with a hint of Muscadine, but just the opposite. Many people taste it and don't even identify it as beer.
•This is a nice summer beverage so the harvest, brewing and aging time frame works perfectly for that. Pick your grapes in October, brew in November, age all winter, and it's ready in the spring or summer.