Inspiration & Hard Graf
Working with the Queen’s brewers was certainly not a pleasure I would have expected down in the old orchard land of deepest Devon. Working with them to produce an innovative cross over collaboration even less so. But on a project for @waitrose we created a graf. A natural apple beer – and it’s lovely.
A graf is a beer style which requires fresh apple juice addition to the wort in the brewing process. The name of the beer ‘Beamquake’ is a nod to literary royalty in the shape of Steven King, who is credited with imagining the marriage of grain and apple. A quake happens if one of the pillars of the dark tower is broken. One imagines the sight of cider and beer together might just do that at CAMRA towers…
Normally beer (at least good beer as made by Windsor and Eton) will derive all its fermenting sugar from grains, mostly barley – these are heated up in a kettle (hence the term ‘brew’ for brewing, and why a cider maker is not a brewer – we don’t use a kettle!). Once the grains are heated, enzymes turn the starches into sugars, this liquid is called the ‘wort’ which is then flavoured with hops and fermented to make beer.
With a graf, the wort is made up of traditional malted grains – but also apple juice. During the fermentation process the juice will ferment with the beer wort and produce a lovely crisp beer, with rich apple notes. Grafs are commonly made with eating and cooking apples, as on 99% of the earth’s surface that’s all that anyone can find – but Willie – head brewer at Windsor and Eton with strong links to Devon, knew where to find the good stuff! Bittersweet cider apples, outnumbering eating fruit in Devon 10 to 1, give this graf body and bite that few others can boast.
It’s always a privilege to get to mess around in someone else’s place of work. Something I’ve done over the years at The St Louis Brewery and Heavy Seas, in Baltimore in the US. I had a memorable night out with Willie that last time I was able to be at the Brewery – and thoroughly enjoyed the time I got to spend there.
I think when this lockdown ends, and the thirsty feet thunder down the roads to their favourite pub there’ll be more than a Beamquake.