I gotta say, I love it when I discover something I like, and find out there’s a crazy story behind it. Case in point: Longwood’s Quinceotica. Although ostensibly categorized as a beer, Quinceotica is actually an obscure kind of beer/cider hybrid called a graf/graff. Unlike snakebite, that staple of English university pubs and backpacker bars, graf isn’t just cider and beer mixed together in a pint glass, it’s actually fermented from a mixture of juice and wort (unfermented beer). The history of graf is where things get interesting, because as I discovered, graf is a fairly new drink. I had always assumed that graf, like most alcoholic beverages, went back centuries, perhaps as a way for cider makers to stretch out their juice in years of poor harvest with the addition of cheap wort as an adjunct. But I was way off. WAY off.
As it turns out, graf was invented by author Stephen King. Yes, you read that correctly. The first known mention of graf was in King’s Dark Tower series where the apple beer was the preferred refreshment of those living in the In-World, the innermost part of the All-World.
King never gave any specifics about the drink or how it was made, other than it was made from apple and malt. But that was enough for legions of King-inspired homebrewers to popularize the style by creating their own versions of the drink. And guess what? It’s pretty dang tasty!
Longwood’s take is made with quince instead of apple. Like everything the Nanaimo brewery makes, the ingredients are all local, with the quince coming from the Quinceotica Farm orchard in Ladysmith (hence the name).
The result is light and cider-like, both slightly tart and slightly malty. The fruity flavours of apple and pear are complemented by the grainy malt character, and followed by a refreshingly crisp finish.
Like so many of Mr. King’s creations, graf seems to have taken on a life of its own, but there’s nothing scary about this refreshing beer.
Quinceotica by Longwood Brewery (5.5% ABV)
Appearance: Brilliant straw gold with a fleeting white head.
Aroma: Apple, pear, floral notes.
Flavour: Apple, pear, fruity, tart, floral, mild grainy malt character, slightly astringent.
Body: Light bodied with medium-high carbonation and dry, crisp finish.
Pairs with: Porchetta, salmon burgers, killer St. Bernards and jealous cars that drive themselves.