Andy’s Orange Wheat Ale Bottled

Yesterday (March 24), I bottled up the orange wheat beer, skipping a secondary fermentation stage. The beer had fermented for 11 days and reached a final gravity of 1.013. With a starting gravity of 1.042, the ABV is 3.9%. Because my sources suggest a higher amount of carbonation for the American Wheat style, I used 1 cup + 2 tbs. of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water for the primer. I ended up with 35 12-oz. bottles, 7 16-oz. bottles, and 2 22-oz. bottles.

The beer has much of what I’d expect for a wheat ale and the strain of yeast that I used. The appearance is pretty cloudy, and when tasted at room temperature there is a distinct banana finish, with no clove or citrus flavor apparent. When I cool the beer down, however, the banana is much diminished and a distinct citrus note pokes through. The color is perhaps a little darker than I anticipated, but this may be due to the fact that I used liquid rather than dry malt extract. In any case, I think this is going to be a nice warm-weather beer!

Andy’s Orange Wheat Ale

The brew season really is nearing its end; as my hectic spring schedule looms and the temperatures continue to rise, it’s time for one final(?) batch. Of course, I want something that will be refreshing and thirst-quenching in the coming warm months. What’s better for that than a light and flavorful wheat beer?

One of my favorite local brews is Hangar 24‘s Orange Wheat Beer. According to their web page, whole oranges are used in every step of the brewing process. The result is a slightly citrus aroma and flavor in every sip. . .although I couldn’t find any clone recipes out there (Hangar 24 isn’t very widely distributed yet, which is probably part of the reason for the lack of clones), I decided to try and put something together that approximates it. Various blood orange weisen recipes provided direction for how to treat the oranges.

The result is my Orange Wheat Ale. It’s probably one of the most experimental beers I’ve ever brewed, so here’s hoping the end result works!

Andy’s Orange Wheat Ale

  • 8 oz. 10°L crystal malt
  • 6 lbs. Bavarian Wheat Liquid Malt Extract (3.3 SRM; 65% wheat, 35% barley)
  • 2 oz. Liberty hops pellets
  • 1 package American Wheat Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1010)
  • 8 fresh Valencia oranges

Directions

  • I heated 3 gallons of water to ~164°, and steeped the crystal malt for one hour. The temperature dropped pretty quickly to around ~158°, and easily held there. Then, I sparged with a half gallon of water.
  • I heated the brew kettle to a boil and added the liquid malt extract. I rinsed out the malt container with another half gallon of water, to bring the total volume in the kettle to four gallons.
  • Meanwhile, I zested the peel of eight medium-sized Valencia oranges (fresh-picked, without the nasty wax coating you get in the grocery store), resulting in 1.1 oz. (wet) of peel. I was very careful not to go down to the white part of the peel, which is too bitter. Then, I peeled and sliced up three of the oranges (the remainder went to make fresh juice – delicious!). I put those oranges and orange peel in a hop sack and placed them in a saucepan with 1/2 gallon of water. I heated this to just boiling, and turned off the heat to let it soak (~45 minutes).
  • Once the wort mixture came to a boil again, I added 1 oz. of the Liberty hops. After 55 total minutes of boil, I added another ounce of Liberty hops. After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort.
  • I poured the wort into the primary fermenter and added the hot mixture of orangey water, slices, and peel. I topped the fermenter up with cold water to ~5.25 gallons, and pitched the yeast. The temperature was ~84°, a little hotter than I hoped for, but I figured it would be best to pitch the yeast immediately (especially because any extra esters and phenols would be in character for a weizen). Starting gravity was 1.042.

My plan is to let this ferment for 10 days and then bottle immediately.

Postscript: The simple ingredients for this one mean it’s also one of the cheapest I’ve brewed this year – total ingredient cost equals $25.37. Assuming a typical yield, that’s about $4/six-pack.