Anyways, I wanted a high abv cider with malted grains, a good degree of maltiness and no hops, flavoured with a couple of spices (vanilla and cinnamon) as well as subtle walnuts. My recipe and notes are below.
I have heard of issues coming from brewing with nuts, but decided I don't really care...the issues are with head retention, something I consider nice, but not necessary. Regardless, I added some wheat malt to possibly help with that (the jury is out on whether the addition of wheat helps with head).
I used my standard procedure for graffs--mash the grains, then use a prolonged boil to reduce the malt almost to a syrup. At flame out, add other sugars and the apple juice (which quickly cools the wort), and siphon into the carboy. Because there are no hops, I did not have to worry about oxygenating or light.
My mash was done with the BIAB method--I found it worked quite well, although it was tricky to keep the temperature constant (neither did I really care, so long as it was between 145-155...the low end will be closer to style, the upper end closer to what I like)....I cannot complain about the results, given my efficiency (and will be using the method again).
As for the yeast; it is unavailable commercially, and I could not find out what it may be. I pitched the dregs from a bottle of Ommegang's Abbey Ale into a half gallon of apple juice to grow a good starter. Repeated it, with another 1/2 gallon to check the flavour (don't ferment cold...the strain throws off sulfur), then pitched 2 oz of the lees from that batch into the graff wort. If you don't want to try "culturing" your own from a commercial brew, just use whatever appropriate Belgian yeast you wish...something with moderate esters. Some sources (mrmalty) says that the Ommegang strain may be the White Labs Belgian Wit II...or it may not.
(After tasting the second batch of test, I like the flavours--it gives off some nice, tart, fruitiness, once most of the yeast has dropped).
|Malty, Appley, Caramelly goodness. With maybe a hint of walnut.|