2022 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

This was a quick brew to serve at a homebrew festival…I roughly followed past recipes, and used zest from 5 Valencia oranges soaked in 4 oz. of vodka for the orange flavoring (added at kegging). It was my first brew back on my batch sparge system (while my Anvil Foundry was temporarily down). I had some major efficiency issues–I suspect maybe a poor crush for the grains–and thus had to improvise heavily with extract. The brew definitely didn’t go as planned, but at least it got done. My subsequent brews in the old mash tun went much better, thank goodness, and now I’m back on the Foundry!

2022 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

  • 6.5 lb. red wheat malt
  • 3.25 lb. 2-row pale malt
  • 6 oz. Viking dextrin malt
  • 8 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.8 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. WLN1000 yeast nutrient (White Labs)
  • 1 pkg. German Ale Yeast (SafAle K97)

Target Parameters

  • 1.043 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.3% abv, 21 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Full volume mash, no sparge, 152°
  • Claremont tap water, Campden tablet added to remove chloramines


  • I added 8 gallons of water to the mash tun, letting it settle to 157° before adding the grains and 8 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust pH. The mash settled around 152° initially, and I let it sit for 75 minutes before vorlaufing and collecting the runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.027, for barely 45% mash efficiency. This is some of the worst efficiency I have ever had, and I’m not sure why. I suspect either I had a poor crush with the high volume of wheat malt, or perhaps the wheat malt didn’t have the enzyme potential expected (which doesn’t make complete sense to me), or some other factor. In any case, I had to improvise major-time and add 1.5 lb. of extra light Briess DME to bring the gravity into a tolerable range.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled down to ~70° before transferring to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 10 April 2022. Starting gravity was 1.044. Once I pitched the yeast, I fermented at ~65°.
  • Prior to brew day, I zested 5 fresh-picked Valencia oranges and put the rind into a 4 oz. bottle topped up with vodka. On kegging day, I strained out the zest.
  • I kegged the beer on 23 April 2022, and added the orange tincture at that point.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.5% abv.
  • I force carbonated, and it was served at a beer festival on April 30. I couldn’t attend, and got the keg back. Two weeks later, I transferred to a pinlock keg for serving. I didn’t have my usual ball lock quick disconnect handy, so I had to do the less-than-desirable task of transferring directly into the keg and then purging it with CO2 via the pressure relief valve.


  • Appearance
    • The beer is cloudy and a sort of muddy reddish orange color. The head is white and persistent.
  • Aroma
    • A fairly pleasant orange and orange blossom aroma is prominent, but not much else.
  • Flavor
    • Orange and doughy malt flavors, with a moderate level of bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Light body, moderate carbonation, dry finish. There is a somewhat unpleasant astringency on the finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This was a very disappointing version of my normally likable orange wheat ale. The orange character is nice, and K97 is an awesome American wheat ale yeast, but the astringency and muddy coloration keep this from being a winner. So many things went sideways on this brew that I have no doubt my next iteration will be far superior. All blame goes to technique flaws, not the recipe itself. This batch is not a complete dumper, but it comes very close.
  • Overall
    • 3/10

2021 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

I last brewed this recipe awhile back, and it was high time to make it again! It’s basically the same recipe as before, just modified slightly for the efficiency of my current system and on-hand ingredients. It’s super simple, but really tasty!

2021 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

  • 6 lb. white wheat malt (Briess)
  • 3 lb. 2-row malt (Viking Xtra Pale)
  • 8 oz. caramel 10L (Briess)
  • 8 oz. rice hulls
  • 1.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. American Hefeweizen Ale yeast (WLP 320)

Target Parameters

  • 1.044 s.g., 1.011 f.g, 4.3% abv, 26 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Full volume infusion mash, 152° for 60 minutes
  • Claremont tap water


  • I made a 1L shaken-not-stirred starter around 4 hours before pitching. It took off pretty well!
  • I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 5 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I removed the grains.
  • In total, I had 6.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.040, for 72% mash efficiency.
  • I brought everything to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After 60 minutes, I chilled down to 66° and transferred to the fermenter. I pitched the yeast, and let it ferment at 66°.
  • I brewed the beer on 13 February 2021, with a starting gravity of 1.045.
  • I had 5.5 gallons in the fermenter, and fermented it at 64° to 66°, as I moved it in and out of the house and garage.
  • While I started the beer, I zested three Valencia oranges that I had picked, putting the zest in 3 oz. of vodka. This steeped for 3 weeks, and then I strained it to add to the keg.
  • I kegged the beer on 27 February 2021. It had great flavor and aroma on the base beer, even before I added the orange extract.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, down from 1.045. So, it had an estimated abv of 4.6%.


  • Appearance
    • Pale gold color and hazy, with a thin white head that is moderately persistent.
  • Aroma
    • Fresh orange zest, with a faint doughy wheat character behind that. Really awesome!
  • Flavor
    • Orange juice flavor at the forefront, with a bread dough malt character behind that. Bitterness level is moderate, perhaps a little higher than works for this beer. Yeast character is very clean, with no noticeable esters.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a really, really nice recipe…the orange character is absolutely perfect. It’s a bit more bitter than I envisioned in the early tastings, so when I brew this again I’m going to back it down to 20 IBU. Interestingly, as it has aged a bit in the keg that overly bitter edge has been reduced. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing.
  • Overall
    • 0/10

Humboldt’s Hefeweizen

It has been a loooooong time since I’ve brewed a German hefeweizen / weissbier. In fact, my records show that I’ve only done it once, over five years ago. That attempt was all-extract, and turned out reasonably well.

I’ve been thinking about this style because I wanted something that turns around quickly, has a ton of character, and is low alcohol enough to be enjoyed as a session beer on warm days. Plus, I’ve really been into German styles lately–what’s not to like?

The recipe more or less follows Gordon Strong’s weissbier recipe from the March/April 2020 issue of Brew Your Own magazine (recipe here, behind paywall). I liked its simplicity, and that it could be done fairly well with an infusion step mash. I added in a touch of melanoidin malt, to use up a lingering handful, and used up some extra wheat malt, too. The recipe called for a ferulic acid rest (to maximize clove character), and I was willing to give that a try in the interest of science.

The name–Humboldt’s Hefeweizen–honors German scientist Alexander von Humboldt. I recently finished a biography about him (Andrea Wulf’s Invention of Nature–highly recommended!), and I was fascinated by his intellectual and cultural influence, as well as his incredible dedication to documenting knowledge. This dude has a ton of animals and plants bearing his name, bestowed by the scientific community. There’s a Humboldt Penguin, and a Humboldt Squid, and a Humboldt’s Sapphire Hummingbird. Why not a Humboldt’s Hefeweizen? I don’t know that he necessarily drank much of the stuff when he was alive, but he probably didn’t eat many penguins, either.

Humboldt’s Hefeweizen

  • 4.75 lb. Superior Pilsen Malt (Great Western)
  • 4 lb. white wheat malt (Briess)
  • 1.25 lb. white wheat malt (Great Western)
  • 1.6 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.25 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Hefeweizen Ale yeast (WLP300, White Labs)

Target Parameters

  • 1.047 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.9% abv, 11 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Infusion mash; 15 minute acid rest at 116°; 30 minute saccharification rest at 149°; 30 minute saccharification rest at 158°, batch sparge
  • Claremont tap water with mineral additions, to hit target water profile of 80 ppm Ca, 9 ppm Mg, 23 ppm Na, 58 ppm SO4, 50 ppm Cl, 220 ppm HCO3; RA=118 pm


  • The night before brewing, I spooled up a 1.25L starter for the yeast.
  • On brew day, I mashed in with 2 gallons of water at 129°, to hit 119° for the acid rest. This is a touch higher than I wanted, but still within the acceptable parameters for an acid rest.
  • After 15 minutes, I added 1.6 gallons of water at 202°, to hit a 149° mash temperature. I added 4.5 mL of lactic acid at this time, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Next, I added 1.6 gallons of water at 185°, to raise the mash temperature to 152°. I had been hoping for a little warmer (158°), but will settle for this. After 30 minutes, I collected the first runnings.
  • I added 3.6 gallons of water at 185°, let it rest for 10 minutes, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.2 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.040, for 75% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding the hops per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and began chilling.
  • I transferred the wort into the fermenter, and chilled it further in my fermentation chamber. Once I hit 62°, I pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 26 April 2020, and kept the 62° temperature for the first four days of fermentation. I ramped up to 67° on 30 April.
  • On 3 May 2020, I brought the beer out to ambient temperature, which was around 72°, to finish out fermentation.
  • I kegged the beer on 5 May 2020, adding 3.61 oz. of corn sugar. This should hit a target carbonation volume of ~3.4 volumes. After a week, I hooked it up to the gas in my keezer, carbonating the last little bit in there.
  • Starting gravity was 1.045, and final gravity was 1.013, for 4.3% abv.
yellow beer with fluffy white head, in weizen glass with SVP2014 on front with picture of fossil Archaeopteryx, held by hand in green yard


  • Appearance
    • Creamy white head, persistent; doesn’t always pour consistently tall, though (gotta work on the head factor). I seem to do better if I let the beer line rest for 10 minutes between pours, to let CO2 out of solution and encourage some foam. Very hazy light gold beer.
  • Aroma
    • Tart aroma, with light bubblegum and clove. (no banana) Lots of yeast character!
  • Flavor
    • Light and smooth, with very low, subtle hop flavor. Slightly tart, with a mild bite coming from high level of carbonation that offsets the malt. Moderate clove, slight banana, very slight bubblegum in the yeast character. Malt character is light and somewhat bready, with a residual sweetness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, creamy on tongue, with high carbonation, very slightly dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a really nice weissbier! I think the freshness, malt balance, and high carbonation come together pretty well. I like that I dodged the super-banana (sometimes to the level of stomach-churning) character of wheat beers fermented at higher temperatures, so there’s not much I would change on that end. The yeast character is pretty nice here, too. My one disappointment concerns the level of head; depending on my pour (and how long the beer has sat in the lines between pours, with a greater length of time encouraging more foam), I don’t get quite as tall of a head as consistently as I would like. I wonder if the low temperature initial mash rest had a detrimental effect in this regard (in terms of breaking down the relevant proteins just a bit too much). Or maybe it’s how I’m pouring? Or maybe I am expecting more head than is realistic in a typical setting? I might add in a touch of flaked wheat to address head character next time.
    • As a style, I’m definitely coming back to this one. It’s super flavorful, packing in a ton of character without a ton of alcohol. That’s perfect for enjoying on a summer afternoon!
  • Overall
    • 8.5/10

The Ones That Got Away…

For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to blog about every single batch I brewed in 2018. Many of the ones that didn’t make the cut were repeat brewings of successful recipes. Because I’m not likely to get all of them with full blog posts at this stage, I’m giving myself semi-amnesty by listing them with brief comments.

  • Cerveza de Jamaica 1.1
    • This was a rebrew of the first version, which I really liked. Version 1.1 was modified very slightly to add a little more hibiscus and a little more orange peel, and the result was an incredibly tasty beer!
  • Double IPA / Hoppy Blonde Ale
    • This was an experiment with parti-gyle techniques, co-brewed with a friend. The double IPA ended up at around 7.8% abv, and was fairly tasty. The blonde ale rounded out at 4.6% abv, and was also pretty nice. The experiment was a lot of work on brew day, but a fun attempt.
  • Raspberry Belgian 2018
    • I rebrewed a house favorite recipe for a beer festival, and thus didn’t really get to taste the final result (sadly). Everything on the process was tasty, though, so I’ll be doing this one again too.
  • Bavarica Session IPA
    • This one was pretty disastrous! The flavors clashed horribly (never again will I use Munich malt in a session IPA), and I dumped most of the batch.
  • Grab Bag IPA
    • Basically to use up a bunch of ingredients. Nothing memorable here, although it was pretty drinkable.
  • Grapefruit Wheat Ale
    • I don’t have many notes on this, other than that I used Amoretti grapefruit craft puree for some of the flavoring.

Beer Tasting: Lemondrop Wheat Ale

20170704_155850I am absolutely thrilled with this beer! In fact, a little too thrilled…the keg is nearly dry. Time for a tasting, then!

Lemondrop Wheat Ale

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.047; f.g. = 1.011; 4.8% abv; 4 SRM; 34 estimated IBU
  • Appearance
    • Hazy light straw color, with firm and persistent white head. When poured well, it’s like a topping of meringue. Gorgeous!
  • Aroma
    • Light citrus (slightly lemony) and slightly bready aroma
  • Flavor
    • Citrusy forefront, with a smooth and doughy middle, fading then into a lingering but pleasant bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Light body and moderate carbonation, with a medium-dry finish
  • Would I brew this again?
    • In a second! This is solidly in the running for favorite beer of 2017 so far. It’s just about the perfect summer beer–light, refreshing, and ridiculously drinkable. I’m burning through this keg at a pretty quick pace! The Lemondrop hops are a fun addition, too. Although I wouldn’t call them distinctly “lemon” in all aspects of their character (i.e. it’s not “lemon oil” or “Lemon Pledge”), they definitely have a citrus note that contributes nicely to the overall character of this beer. The only, very minor, flaw in this batch is that the finish has gotten just a touch harsh over time, likely due to the extended keg dry hopping. That’s easily fixed in the next iteration, though. I am quite pleased with just about every other aspect of this recipe; the balance between pilsner and wheat malt is perfect, and the yeast is also a true winner. WLP320 has just a touch of character, but it’s not overwhelming like European wheat beer yeasts. Also, it stays in suspension forever, which also helps with appearance and presentation. I don’t think this would be as good of a beer with a Chico strain yeast. I also think my water adjustments paid off; it’s not overly minerally in character like some of my past lighter beers.
  • Overall
    • 9.5/10