Beer Tasting: 2016 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

I am many weeks past kicking the keg of my latest orange wheat beer, but fortunately I did a tasting for posterity–on the very last pour for the batch. This recipe has earned its place in my regular rotation!

  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.043; final gravity = 1.010; abv = 4.3%; estimated IBU = 22.
  • Aroma
    • Light orange blossom aroma, absolutely delightful!
  • Appearance
    • There is a moderate haze in the medium-yellow beer. The head is white, medium-fine and of moderate size and decent retention.
  • Flavor
    • The flavor is primarily a low-level of bready maltiness, with a low bitterness and a gentle orange flavor on the finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a light body and moderate carbonation. The finish has a gentle bitterness, but nothing too overpowering.
  • Overall
    • This is a darned fine beer; it hits pretty much every note I was looking for. I am particularly pleased with how the orange came through; just the right amount, without being too far in the background or too much in the front.
  • Overall score: 9.5/10

orange_wheat

2016 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

One of the better brews during the “early” stage of my homebrewing career was an orange wheat ale. Inspired by Hangar 24’s offering, my overall recollection is that I got some nice orange flavor into the mix. I would like to make this again, but with the massive changes in my brewing techniques (particularly the switch to all-grain), I needed a nearly complete reformulation. I’m also adjusting the recipe for the hops I have on-hand.

It’s still a fairly simple recipe, and one that I hope turns out well. My other experimental change this time is to modify the way I handle the oranges. In the previous batches, the whole oranges (crushed) went into the fermenter along with the zest. For this iteration of the recipe, I’m going to soak the zest in vodka and add it at kegging.

2016 Orange Summer Wheat Ale

  • 5.75 lbs. white wheat malt
  • 2.5 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 0.5 lbs. 10° L crystal malt
  • 0.25 lbs. rice hulls
  • 1.25 oz. Mt. Hood hops pellets (5.75% alpha, 30 minute boil)
  • 1 pkg. American Hefeweizen Ale yeast (White Labs WLP320), prepared in 1.25 L starter
  • Zest of 3 medium to large oranges (1 navel, 2 Valencia), steeped in a few ounces of vodka
Procedure
  • The day before brewing, I made a starter of 1.25L water and 125 g of light DME. I added the yeast culture, and let it run for around 20 hours.
  • I mashed in with 3.6 gallons of water at 164.5°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. The temperature was down to 149.5° after 40 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.25 gallons of water at 185°, which raised the mash temperature to 154°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 190°, and a little ice to cool the mash down, and got a temperature of 165°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the runnings.
  • All told, I collected 6.9 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.036. This equates to 74% mash efficiency.
  • I started the boil, and added the hops after 30 minutes. After 60 minutes total, I turned off the heat and chilled the beer to 72°. I pitched the yeast and sealed the fermenter.
  • Starting gravity was 1.043, with 5.5 gallons into the fermenter. Fermentation had taken off within 12 hours. Because my fermentation chamber was currently on hold for lagering, I am fermenting this beer at ambient temperature. This means the brew is about 68°, give or take a degree.
  • I brewed this up on Monday, February 9.