Blood Orange Hefeweizen

>> Saturday, February 09, 2013

I picked up a copy of Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione not too long ago. It's probably geared more towards beginning brewers since all the recipes are extract-based. However, it's filled with lots of good information for intermediate and advanced brewers too...especially when it comes to fruit and spice additions, how much to add and when.

On the extract note, my club has an extract meeting coming up soon (at least 50% of fermentables must come from extract), so I figured I'd give one of the recipes from Extreme Brewing a shot. One that jumped out at me was the Blood Orange Hefeweizen. I really like a well-made fruit beer and I also feel like I need a break from the high gravity beers I tend to brew in the winter. This brew lets me kill two birds with one stone.

It's been a long time since I brewed an extract beer and I have to say I was a bit surprised by the cost of extract. This batch (with blood oranges, yeast, hops, specialty grains, and DME) cost me around $50.  I probably could have done an all-grain version for around $30. It's still probably cheaper when you factor in the AG equipment and gadgets I've bought over the years, but I still had a bit of sticker shock. Anyway, below is how I made my version (I tweaked it a little so it's not quite the same as the original).

5.0 # Muntons Wheat DME (added at 15 min)
12.0 oz Rahr White Wheat Malt
8.0 oz Weyermann Pilsner Malt
04.0 oz Briess Crystal 10L
04.0 oz Flaked Wheat
05.0 oz Hallertau (60 min)
05.0 oz Saaz (20 min)
05.0 oz Hallertau (5 min)
05.0 oz Saaz (5 min)
8 small Blood Oranges
Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
White Labs WLP320 in a 1L starter

Specialty grains were steeped around 153F for about 45 minutes.  I didn't measure the amount of water but I'd guesstimate I had about two quarts. The tea was then added to the boil kettle along with 5 gallons of water for a total volume of about 5.5 gallons. DME was added the last 15 minutes of the boil to avoid darkening of the wort as much as possible.

The original recipe called for 4 medium oranges; my local supplier only had smaller ones so I upped the count to eight. To prepare the blood oranges, I took the zest from four along with the peeled and diced fruit from all eight and added that to 80 oz of water. This was brought to 160F then allowed to cool. The liquid and fruit were added to the fermenter while I chilled the wort. It was quite red so it'll be interesting to see the final color of this beer.

I want this to be more of an American style hefe without a lot of banana or clove character, so fermentation is starting out at 63F and I'll bump it to 65F over the first few days.

Brewing Notes
No issues with this brew. One nice thing about extract, the brew day was much shorter and there was less equipment to clean. O.G. came in a hair over 11.6 P (about 1.046). My plate chiller got the wort down to about 50F, so it's currently warming up in the ferm chamber. The oranges smelled awesome going into the fermenter; I hope this doesn't get scrubbed out too much during fermentation. I have the fruit and zest tied up in a knee-high nylon stocking...trying to avoid the messy sludge that I had with the peach/apricot wheat a little while back. This should end up being a nice refreshing and light beer as the weather begins to warm this spring.

Update 2/18/2013
This brew is still happily fermenting away.  I added 2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme today.  Normally you'd add this to prevent chill haze in fruit beers but since this is a hefe I'm expecting it to be cloudy. I'm told that it can also break down the cell walls of the fruit resulting in better flavor/color extraction from the fruit. I figured I'd give it a try and see what happens. There's still a bit of krausen in the fermenter so I'll probably let this go another week before racking to a keg.

Update 2/27/2013
This went into the keg today. It finished at 1.011 for an ABV of 4.65%, which is great for a session beer especially with warmer weather around the corner. It has some great orange aromas so I'm really looking forward to trying this when it's carb'd up.

Update 3/12/2013
I pulled a sample of this tonight. This is a really good hefe. The blood orange is noticeable, but not overpowering so you can really taste the base wheat beer behind it. Very tasty and very refreshing. It makes me want to hang out on the back patio. I'll definitely be making this again, next time as an all-grain version.