I 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
- Hazy light straw color, with firm and persistent white head. When poured well, it’s like a topping of meringue. Gorgeous!
- Light citrus (slightly lemony) and slightly bready aroma
- Citrusy forefront, with a smooth and doughy middle, fading then into a lingering but pleasant bitterness.
- 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.
Summer means wheat beers! My intention with this batch is to have something light and refreshing that won’t take too long to turn around, either. I also wanted to experiment with Lemondrop hops, and this seemed like the perfect style in which to do so.
In terms of recipe design, the grist (52% pilsner malt, 46% white wheat malt) is fairly standard. I vacillated on whether or not to include flaked wheat as a way to increase body and prolong haze in the keg, but in the end neither factor is terribly important to me on this batch. The other decision I had to make was whether or not to dope the beer with some homemade lemon extract. My first version of the recipe had this, but after discussion with some other homebrewers at the AHA forum, I decided not to use it. My main purpose with this batch is to explore the hops, and I don’t want those to be overwhelmed by citrus extract. Depending on how this turns out, I may add some extract towards the end of the keg, but we’ll see. Discussion on the forum also led me to use pilsner rather than 2-row, for a slightly lighter malt profile against the hops.
When testing the hops before I threw them into the kettle, I noted that they had some citrus (not nearly as prominent as I expected, given the name and the hype) along with a hay note (not necessarily grassy in the way I often think of grassy–it was dried hay, not freshly cut lawn). My suspicion based on these findings is that I’ll likely use the extract before the keg is finished!
Lemondrop Wheat Ale
- 4.5 lbs. floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt (Weyermann)
- 4 lbs. white wheat malt (Great Western)
- 2.7 oz. rice hulls
- 0.3 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 0.5 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
- 1 oz. Lemondrop hop pellets (6.2% alpha), 15 minute steep/whirlpool
- 1 oz. Lemondrop hop pellets (6.2% alpha), dry hop in keg
- 1 pkg. American Hefeweizen Ale yeast, WLP320 (White Labs)
- Infusion mash to hit target of 152°. Batch sparge.
- Claremont tap water with RO and salt additions to hit targets of 82 Ca, 8 Mg, 9 Na, 89 SO4, 73 Cl, 78 HCO3, 64 ppm alkalinity, 1 ppm RA.
- 1.045 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.4% abv, 20 IBU, 4 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter
- The day before brewing, I made a 1L starter for my yeast and set it going on the stir plate.
- I mashed in with 3 gallons of Claremont tap water treated with a quarter of a Campden tablet. The water had a target temperature of 162.2°, which hit my target mash temperature of 152°.
- For my sparge water, I added 3 g gypsum, 1.2 g epsom salt, and 4 g calcium chloride to 5 gallons of RO water. Added with the strike water, I should hit my target.
- The mash was down to 148 or 149° after 60 minutes. I added 1.6 gallons of water at 160 degrees, to raise the mash temperature to 152°. Then, I let the mash rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
- I added 3.4 gallons of sparge water at 183°, to raise the mash temperature to 164. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the runnings.
- In total, I collected 6.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.038, for 78% efficiency.
- I brought the wort to a boil and added the hops and other items per the schedule.
- After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the flame, added the last hop charge in a mesh bag, and let it sit for a few minutes before cooling. I started cooling, which brought the wort down to 165°. I paused the cooling, let it sit for another 10 minutes, and continued chilling down to 75°.
- I transferred the wort to the fermenter and pitched the yeast.
- I brewed this beer on 9 June 2017. Starting gravity was 1.047, just a bit more than predicted (0.02 above target). I’m fermenting this at 66°.
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.
- Light orange blossom aroma, absolutely delightful!
- There is a moderate haze in the medium-yellow beer. The head is white, medium-fine and of moderate size and decent retention.
- The flavor is primarily a low-level of bready maltiness, with a low bitterness and a gentle orange flavor on the finish.
- The beer has a light body and moderate carbonation. The finish has a gentle bitterness, but nothing too overpowering.
- 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
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
- 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.