A Wee Heavy Graf

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DBhomebrew

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With a handful of empty fermenters and an opening in the usual brew schedule, I'd been wondering what I should brew. Finding a gallon jug of local, pasteurized, no-preservative cider on the last grocery run, I figured it's time to give graf a try.

Base beer will be a wee heavy. Very malty, easy on the hops. Having been gifted Alworth's Brewing With The Masters for Christmas, I'm brewing the included Traquair House Ale recipe. With just 2% roasted barley, it's practically a 1.070 29IBU MO/EKG SMaSH.

The recipe calls for WY1078 or WL028 with a 148°F mash, but I want to use one of the slurries already in my fridge. I'm not worried about esters, the recipe has it fermenting cool, 60°.

WY1028 is my current thinking. Mashing at 154° to keep the FG up where it's supposed be.

I've also got WY1968 and WY1084.

I like the idea of 1968 for the graf, but I'm nervous bottle conditioning such a big beer with that strain's reputation for restarting in the bottle.

Maybe the 1084? I've only used that in Irish stouts; a dry that came out really good and an extra stout that is still conditioning. To tell you the truth with the very enjoyable dry stout, I'm not sure what came from the yeast and what came from the heavy load of flaked barley. It was my first time using both.

So, what say ye?

1028, 1084, or 1968 subbing for 1078 in 1) a 1.070 wee heavy and 2) a 1.065 50/50 graf.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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With a bit more searching, I find 1084 is probably my best bet. Not the most common wee heavy yeast, but not unknown. While Weikert uses 1007 for his Irish stouts in the Make Your Best series, he uses 1084 for his big Scotch.

So, I'll keep it in the Celtic family. 1084 Irish, it is.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Well, it's in the hands of the yeasty beasties now.

Brew day went well, pretty straight forward.

98% Crisp #19 Floor-malted MO
2% Fawcett Roasted Barley

Mashed @ 151°, 60min rest, probably 90m before first runnings hit 170°.

2hr gentle boil. 26IBU @ 120m, 3IBU @ 10m. All 4.7% EKG.

Pre-boil SG came in a few points high, but boil-off wasn't as much as expected. OG came in right on target, 1.070.

WY1084 slurry pitched @ 58°, brought up to 60° over the first 18hrs. Fermentation started between 20-24hrs. I'll let it ride at 60° for a week then ramp up to 68 over a few days.

2.5G of straight wort on the left. 2G 50/50 wort/cider on the right.

20210226_092917.jpg
 
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DBhomebrew

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A little update.

Krausen was never much to speak of on either of these, even at peak. At four days since pitch, as of last night, the krausen on the graf is getting thin and the beer's is totally gone. Airlock activity on both had been strong and continues. At peak fermentation the graf smelled like my kid ate too many apples. Last night that had changed to strong sulfur. This morning, the sulfur has calmed down.

The beer's down from 1.070 to 1.020. Graf, 1.062 down to 1.023. Airlocks have slowed a bit, but still steady. I've started ramping the temp up from 60° 1°/day until I hit 68.

Peak krausen, Saturday:
20210227_140302.jpg


Sunday evening:
20210301_182934.jpg
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Tuesday morning. Graf's krausen is holding on. Airlock no longer smells like sulfur, just a faint clean apple. Both airlocks slow and steady activity. Temp now at 63°.

20210303_091701.jpg
 

thehaze

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I can't comment on what the end result will be or what you are trying to create ( you must have some idea in your head about how it should taste, smell, look, etc. ), so I can't really comment on your process and choice of malts and yeast. But it sounds OK.

I am actually thinking of doing something similar, but with a twist: I'll brew a red-ish malty beer, ferment with either a Belgian or an English yeast and I will also make a cider using fresh pressed juice and leaving it to ferment naturally. Once fermented, I will blend the two. I am hoping for a bit more complexity, maybe a bit of acetic acid along with the sourness and coupled with the malty beer, should result in something ... good.

Anyway, good luck with yours and keep us posted.
 
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DBhomebrew

DBhomebrew

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Well, this graf is very much an experiment. Sort of a first go to give me a baseline off which I can then make educated moves toward what I want in the end. For now, I'm just hoping it *results in something...good*

End goal, I'm looking to get a strong malt base cut with clean apple that drinks like a solid strong ale. Malt and apple should be balanced and forefront, hops adding just enough bitterness and no more.

Ciders typically make me think of summer easy drinking. For this graf, I'm thinking autumn camping trip with the leaves at their peak.

Before settling on the neutral-yeasted Scottish approach, I had debated using a Dubbel as the base. When/if I figure this one out, a 'spiced' version might be really nice. With the 'spice' derived from a phenolic Belgian strain.
 
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DBhomebrew

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A week in primary, things are seriously slowing down. Just a stray bubble every once in a while. Time for a gravity and taste test.

Base beer: 1.070>1.014 Full malt flavor, not sweet. Just a touch of roastiness. Very low hop presence. Moderate alcohol warmth. Starting to clear.

Graf: 1.052>1.010 Base beer apparent under a rather full apple flavor. Semi-sweet front end turns pleasantly tart for a long apple finish. Low to moderate alcohol warmth. Still very hazy.

Both of these are obviously very very green, but I'm super pleased how they're coming along. I'll give them another few days in the controlled fridge at 68 then move them down to the low-60s basement for another week or two.
 
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Four weeks in primary, bottled them up tonight. Targeted 2.0 volumes for both.

The base beer, a wee heavy, is full and malty. Bready malty, no sugary flavors. Like well-toasted whole grain bread crust. Still some low alcohol warmth, not unpleasant. 7.5%

The graf tastes like the wee heavy's bread slathered with the apple butter I used to get in New England. Good stuff. Just the smallest hint of alcohol. 6%

I'll give them a full 3 weeks upstairs at 70° then shift them down to the basement for a while.

I'm in no rush to drink these, I expect they'll do well with a few months of age. So far, I'm really happy. Well within range of what I was aiming for.
 

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