Have you enjoyed the spicy, citrusy flavor of a Belgian Witbier? Do you want to recreate those flavors with your own beers at home? Adding orange peels is a great way to incorporate those fruity, fresh flavors into your next brew. But how?
For 5 gallons of beer, add ½ to 1 oz of dried orange peel or fresh peels from 1-3 oranges to the last 3-10 minutes of the boil. This is one of 6 ways to add oranges to beer. Many types of beer taste great with a bright orange flavor. Lagers, pale ales, wheat beers, and more benefit from adding a few orange peels to the brew.
Read on to discover how to use orange peel in brewing. Learn which types of beer to try, how much orange peel to add, and when to add it. If you read all the way to the end, you can even try an unusual, tasty option. It’ll be worth it.
What kind of beer uses orange peel in the recipe?
The flavor that comes from the orange peel or zest is similar to that of Grand Mariner or Cointreau. So, what kinds of beer will benefit from the addition of orange peel?
Many styles of beer pair well with citrusy aromas and flavors, including some darker beers.
Flavored or light-bodied beers are ideal for orange flavor. Including:
- American lager (or pale lager) – built for drinkability. These lagers are pale, straw-colored, and light-bodied. With a crisp, balanced flavor and little to no bitterness. Low hop and malt flavors, and a low ABV (3.2-4%). They get inspiration from the pilsners of the Czech Republic and Germany.
- American blonde ale/American pale wheat ale – are slightly more complex than American lagers and ales. They are pale in color with bready, malty flavors with a slight bitterness. ABV is generally around 5%.
- Hefeweizen/Weissbier – is a German wheat beer brewed with Weizen yeast and 50% malt wheat. It is straw to amber in color with fruity aromas and complex flavors like clove, banana and bubblegum. The American version is lighter and some versions are more hoppy. The ABV is generally 5-5.5%.
- Belgian Witbier – is a pale, cloudy, and brewed with coriander and citrus. These create sweet, fruity, and spicy flavors including banana and clove notes. The ABV averages between 4-5%.
- Berliner Weisse: a northern Bavarian-style beer that is cloudy. It’s often mixed with fruit and lactose milk sugar. It has a balanced, lightly sweet and sour taste. It’s ABV is around 5%.
- Weizenbock – is a wheat ale that ranges from pale to dark amber. It combines the characteristics of a Hefeweizen and a Doppelbock with fruity and malty flavors. Its ABV is around 7-9%.
Add some orange peel to citrusy hop beers for aroma, such as:
- English IPAs – are gold to bronze in color with more balanced hop/malt flavors than the American IPAs. Earthy and spicy with only slight caramel and toffee flavors. The ABV is typically between 4.5-5.5%.
- Belgian IPAs – are a hybrid of the IPA and Belgian ales that range in color from pale gold to amber and are slightly hazy. They are a hop-forward style with flavors of clove, banana, orange, pear, and apple.
- American IPAs – are ultra-clear to deep amber in color. They have a strong, hops-driven flavor with a higher ABV of around 6-8%. Often fruity, piney, or floral flavored from the hops that are used.
- Oatmeal stouts – are earthy, nutty, and oat flavors with mild notes of coffee. It has a balanced sweetness with a medium hop bitterness. Deep brown to black in color with an ABV of 4.2-5.9%.
- Baltic porters – have a deep malty sweetness with complex caramel, nutty, and toffee flavors. There are also hints of chocolate and coffee. Dark brown to black in color with an ABV of 6.5-9.5%.
What kind of orange should you use when brewing?
There are generally two types of oranges used in brewing beer, sweet and bitter.
- Citrus sinensis: are the typical sweet oranges at the supermarket. This group includes Valencia (or naval) oranges and blood oranges. Sweet oranges provide the best identifiable orange flavor compared to bitter oranges.
- Citrus aurantium: are bitter oranges that are rarely edible. They impart a subtle citrusy and floral orange flavor and aroma. The Seville orange and Curacao orange fall into this group. Triple sec and Grand Marnier use Curacao oranges. In beer they do not impart the same overtly orange flavor as sweet oranges.
Both citrus sinesis and citrus aurantium oranges add a citrusy flavor and aroma. But the sweet oranges make the orange flavor much more prominent. Many brewers also add ground coriander especially with the bitter types of oranges. This brings even more fruity aroma into the beer.
Bitter oranges are more often used in darker beers like porters and stouts. The bitterness helps balance the malty sweetness. And bitter oranges impart more aroma for dark beers.
Note: you are also welcome to use an orange extract to contribute your orange flavor but there are two words of caution – be sure to use a high-quality extract and do not use too much! Here is a brand that I trust for all of my extracts:
How much orange peel should you add to a homebrew recipe?
There are a few things to know before adding orange peel to your next recipe. Some factors depend on the type of oranges and the style of beer you choose.
- A general rule of thumb is to add ½ to 1 oz dried orange peel, or the zest of 1-3 sweet or bitter oranges to a 5-gallon batch of beer.
- The most suggested time to add the orange peel during the boil is the last 3-10 minutes.
Using fresh orange peel or zest will give you a bolder orange flavor than dried orange peel. Using sweet oranges will also give you a sweeter, more prominent orange flavor. But, this method will yield the least orange flavor in the final product.
How to brew with orange peel
Experimentation is key to finding what works best for your brewing. Here are a few methods and mixtures for how much to add, and when to add it along with a few other suggestions.
Option 1: Near the end of the boil
Brewers use several variations when it comes to type, amount, and method of adding orange peel to beer. Some add it the last 10 minutes, others only put it in during the last 2 or 3 minutes, and others wait until flameout.
- For 5 gallons of beer, add zest or peel of 1-3 oranges with ½ to 2 oz of ground, dried Indian coriander seeds to the wort 3-10 minutes before the end of the boil.
- If you’re using dried orange peel, add ½ to 1 oz closer to the end of the boil to cut down on the natural bitterness.
This option will likely yield the most delicate orange flavor of all the methods.
Option 2: At flameout
- Zest 2 – 3 oranges and add it to the wort during flameout. Freshly zested Cara Cara oranges will give the best flavor.
- You can also use 1-2 oz of dried, ground orange peel instead of fresh with ½ to 1 oz of ground Indian coriander seed.
Option 3: During dry hopping
- Add orange zest or peel from 1-2 oranges and ½ to 1 oz of ground coriander to a hop bag.
- Add these with your dry hops a couple of weeks after the start of primary fermentation.
Option 4: During secondary fermentation using a tincture
Adding orange during secondary fermentation may cause you some concern about contamination.
- At this stage, add oranges by making a tincture.
- Soak fresh orange peels or zest from 2-3 oranges in 80 proof vodka for 2-3 weeks.
- When racking your beer into the secondary fermenter, slowly add the tincture to the beer.
You can use an orange tincture. Or you can add the zest/peels in a few tablespoons of vodka right before adding them to the secondary fermenter.
Option 5: Add to the keg after secondary fermentation
- After fermentation, transfer the beer to a keg and let sit for 3 weeks.
- Rinse 3 sweet oranges very well.
- Carefully zest them then add the zest to a little bit of vodka to sterilize them.
- Then add the orange peel with the vodka into the keg.
Option 6: Candied orange peel added after the boil
This recipe for a Candy Orange IPA is from Clawhammer Supply. It’s a unique way to add orange and citrus flavor with candied, dried orange peels to 5 gallons of beer.
- After the wort has boiled and cooled below 170 degrees, add the orange simple syrup.
- Three days after the primary fermentation starts, add the candied dried orange peels to the fermenter with more hops.
Sanitation isn’t a problem since the peels and the syrup are boiled. Make sure to store them in a sanitized, sealed container until they’re needed.
And there you have it. There are many styles of beer to brew with orange peels and a variety of ways to brew it. You’ll enjoy the fresh fruity tastes and aromas from brewing with orange peels. Pick a style and a brewing method and try it out for yourself.
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