Adding fruit to specialty grains?

I have been brewing extract beers for a couple of years now and I like to try to clone some of my favorite brews. One of those brews is O’so Brewing Co. Big O. It is an Orange flavored wheat that I would like to replicate. My plan would be to purchase a wheat extract brewing kit and add some type of orange flavoring to the brewing process. I just would like to know what would be the best time to add the orange flavoring whether it would be orange peels in the specialty grains, orange extract in secondary, or orange zest just before bottling.

I would add zest (sterilized by vodka) into the fermenter. Either from day one, or maybe after fermentation is complete. Or both. Your call.

It depends on what kind of flavor element you are adding.

Extracts would be added just before bottling.

Juice or actual fruit would go in after the fermentation is mostly done, but you will want to keep the fruit in the fermentor for a long time to allow the yeast to finish off the new sugars that the fruit bring into the beer.

Something like zest could go in at the very end of the boil, or any time after that, though you’ll want to make sure it sits in the beer for at least 4-5 days (longer is OK) to let the flavors work their way out.

If you try to boil fruit, all the aroma and most of the flavor will dissipate with the steam. Worse, it will set the fruit pectin leading to hazy beer

Have you ever had orange juice ferment on you in the fridge? Like that taste? DON’T add orange juice or fruit.
Traditionally, Wheat ales with that subtle orange flavor(ie, Blue Moon, Shock Top) do it by adding orange peel and coriander, usually late boil. 1tsp. of crushed coriander and 1/2 tsp orange peel will do it. Often, if I don’t feel I have enough orange flavor or aroma at bottling time, I boil up another 1/2 tsp of each with my priming solution. Or, I might just add the zest from an orange to the priming. I usually strain it out before adding it to my bottling bucket.

Cascade Candi Syrup Company has a blood orange version that might be worth a look.
I recently brewed a sweet stout using their tart cherry version.

I added orange to a Spiced Christmas Ale and it turned out quite nicely.

I used three naval oranges, and zested them. I cooked the zest at 200 degrees for about 22 minutes before I started brewing. Then I added the cooked zests to the boil with 10 minutes to go.

Just curious, why did you cook the zest?

Do you find that it improves the flavor/aroma?

I’ve done an orange wheat a couple of times. I added the peels of two oranges to the boil(whole peels, not zest, no pith-the white stuff) at about 15 minutes left in the boil. then transferred peels and all into fermentor for the duration. Came out pretty good, subtle but noticeable orange flavor.

If i did it again, I would probably do like JimR, use zest in the boil. Then when I took my first gravity sample, if the flavor was not enough, I would have some more vodka-soaked zest to add after initial fermentation was complete and let it sit in there for at least a week. Then if my sample at bottling didn’t have enough flavor, i would maybe use some extract to bump it a little.

I’m sure there are lots of wrong ways you can do this, but certainly more than one right way. That’s the fun of it. You’ll probably have to experiment a few times to see what YOU like best. Only down side to that is that you have to make a lot of beer. Oh, wait a minute, that’s not a downside.



Well said!