OK, so I had this crazy idea a while back: brew a beer, substituting apple cider for ALL the water. It was an idea that just wouldn't leave me alone, and so, after stumbling across the Wampus Cat recipe from "Doin' The Most" on YouTube, I decided to go for it. I modified the recipe a bit, and this is what it ended up looking like (5 gallon batch size):
1 lb honey malt
6 oz Special B
4.5 lbs clover honey
1.5 lbs buckwheat honey
5 gallons fresh apple cider
1.5 oz Centennial (60 min)
1.5 oz Calypso (5 min)
FG (After primary): 1.010
Racked into secondary and added 1 lb of buckwheat honey
This was an experiment. Honestly, it'd been a long time since I'd made beer, and the last time I did, it was with an extract. This was my first all-grain brew, and my first time doing a mash (even a small one like this) AND BIAB. But, the result was really good. Surprisingly good, actually. Nice, crisp appley flavor, that goes in like a cider, tricks you into thinking it's a light mead going down, then whispers, "Beer"on the light, hoppy exhale. It's an interesting experience, but I have to say, I was disappointed with it. Why?
Well...It's too much of a cider. I know: surprise surprise, right?
After doing a LOT of studying, I realized that what I was hoping for was a LOT more beer character. Specifically, I wanted a strong, malty flavor and a LOT more hops bitterness to balance out all that cider. On top of it, I wanted a bit more of the honey character to come through - ESPECIALLY that buckwheat honey which is really...well, it's an astounding honey. Very molasses-like, strong, and DARK. I find it delicious.
So. I'm going to brew it again. Because, of course I am. But, this time, I'm making some changes.
First of all, my grain bill is going to be that of an American Robust Porter. We're looking at 12.5 lbs of grain this time, rather than the measley 1.6 I put in last time. However, I do NOT want the coffee and chocolate and burnt notes that come from the dark roasted malts that go into a porter, so I'll be substituting those with Special B and Crystal 120. Haven't quite nailed down the percentages yet, but I REALLY want those caramel and toffee notes, which should go well with the cider, instead of the burnt, coffee, and chocolate notes, which I think will clash. Also, I want a substantial bready/biscuity note to it, so I've got to figure that out. I'm pretty sure that getting rid of the dark malts takes me straight out of porter territory into...God only knows what, because who's ever heard of a porter without dark malts? But hey: this whole thing is experimental, so...
Incidentally, if you've ever heard of a porter without dark malts, let me know, because now I'm thinking I might just brew that to see how it is.
For hops, I think I'm going to go with 2 oz of American Goldings (60 min), then 1.5 oz of Goldings (30 min), and 1.5 oz American Fuggles at flameout (I'll let it sit for 60 - 90 min while the beer cools).
Finally, I'll use a full 6 lbs of buckwheat honey in the primary fermentation. That will give this beer a nice buckwheat honey funk, and the color should make up for the absence of dark malts.
I fully expect OG on this thing to approach 1.100, and maybe higher, so I'm going to add quite a bit of yeast nutrient up front, and I'm going to stick with the Kveik Lutra, because I liked how it worked out on the last one, and I don't want much yeast character in the beer. I want all of the flavor to come from the ingredients.
My only real concern is that, even with the nutrient, the yeast might not be able to make it through all of that sugar. If that's the case after a couple weeks, I'll rack it into secondary and add more yeast. Even then, I don't expect this to ferment to 1.000, and I really don't want it to. I'll be quite happy with 1.010 - 1.015. I DO want some of that residual sweetness to carry through. ABV will hopefully be somewhere in the 11% - 12% range, so firmly in barley wine territory.
And that's the other thing: I don't even know what this beverage is. Is it a barley wine? A beer? A cyser? A mead? A graff? Who knows? I don't think such a thing has ever existed before. If you know what this is, I'd LOVE to hear it, because I don't.
Anyway, that's my plan. I'll probably start on it next week. Thoughts? Is this crazy? Genius? Stupid?