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Light Lemon flavored ale?

I’m fairly new to brewing, and had the idea to brew a light, lemony flavored beer with a crisp finish. I’ve read through some of the ideas here on this forum as well as at the AMA website forum, and this recipe is what I’ve come up with.

6 lbs Northern Brewer Pilsen Malt
1 pkt Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast
2 oz Zythos Blend Hops
0.5 oz ground coriander
zest and juice of 4 lemons

Come to boil and add malt. At 30 minutes, add 1 oz Zythos hops, zest and juice of 4 lemons. At 55 minutes, add 1 oz Zythos hops and 1 oz ground coriander.

I don’t currently have a secondary fermentor, so I don’t really have the capability of adding zest and juice during a secondary fermentation period.

Does this look like a viable recipe to get what I’m after? Would a typical 2 to 3 week fermentation time be sufficient? Any suggestions would be great!

1oz of ground coriander will give you a strong citrus flavor. That may be all you need. I’ve used coriander many times and personally only like using 1/2oz. Same goes for the lemon zest. You’re using WAY too much. You may only need the zest from one lemon. And no need to add the juice. It will ferment out.

It’s always best to add less in the beginning. You can always add more later. Cut back the zest, add it later in the boil… maybe in the last 5-10 minutes along with the coriander. After fermentation is done, give it a taste. If you want more lemon flavor, you could always add more lemon zest or even lemon juice.

EDIT: My bad. Just saw you plan on using on 1/2oz of coriander. Good call :cheers:

My experience with this tells me that if you add the zest to the boil, you will not get “fresh lemon flavor”… if that’s what you’re after. The heat of the primary and scrubbing effects of the primary will subdue most of the flavor you would rather have in the beer. One option is to make a nice, clean & light ale and then when primary is completely done (2 weeks?), add the zest of 1 lemon to a small amount of vodka (to sanitize), and then add that to the primary and leave it for another few days. Then transfer it to bottling bucket, keg or whatever. I agree… start small. I just made a Summer Ale (a la Sam Adams) with lemon zest and grains of paradise. I used the zest of just one lemon and 2g of crushed grains of paradise. When I sent that beer to the keg (after adding the ‘flavor’ to secondary), it had a pretty good lemon aroma from just that one lemon. If you add the zest to the brewpot, you’ll still get a lemon flavor but it won’t be ‘fresh-tasting’. The final option would just be to make a light ale and squeeze a fresh wedge of lemon into the glass and go. That way you have 2 beers in one… a light ale or one that can be enjoyed with a lemon. Cheers.


A distant second is the vodka tincture. You might get sick of drinking Pledge.

Thanks for the comments everyone, much appreciated. I’m going to give it a shot with the suggestions made to use small amounts of lemon zest and see how it turns out.

I had to laugh at your comment Ken - I never even thought about the possibility of it tasting like Pledge. I hope that’s not the case. :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote=“Casimir”]Thanks for the comments everyone, much appreciated. I’m going to give it a shot with the suggestions made to use small amounts of lemon zest and see how it turns out.

I had to laugh at your comment Ken - I never even thought about the possibility of it tasting like Pledge. I hope that’s not the case. :stuck_out_tongue: [/quote]
Good luck on the beer. I hope it comes out exactly as you envision.

Hi Casimir. My only suggestion is to take copious notes. When I started out my first few brews were not what I was expecting, but my notes allowed others to help me dial it in. Good luck with your brew. As previously stated, I hope it comes out exactly as you plan and hope.

I brewed a batch of Centennial Blonde that turned out really great. Super clean and spritzy. My mom loves summer shandy, so we added a bit of lemon juice to a glass and it was a hit. Here’s the recipe:

7 lb British 2-row
0.5 lb Vienna
0.5 lb C 10
10 oz Carapils

Mash at 150 for 60 min.

0.25 oz Centennial, 55 min
0.25 oz Centennial, 35 min
0.25 oz Cascade, 20 min
0.25 oz Cascade, 5 min

Ferment at 68 degrees with your choice of yeast. The original recipe calls for Danstar Nottingham. I used WY1028 and it turned out great. It was tempting to crank up the hops a bit on this one, but I went with the recipe as-is, and was very pleased.

In a sense, you’ll drink this and say “this tastes like nothing at all” but that’s not really it. The beer is just so fresh and clean, and finishes so clean. A great way to use some homegrown hops too.

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Back to the OP, a 90 minute boil is recommended for Pilsen malt.

What is your expected OG? Off the cuff it looks like 2.5-3%

I think he should just brew a Berlinner Weisse :mrgreen:

Hmm… well, I wasn’t aware of the Pilsen Malt recommendation unfortunately - I boiled it for 60 minutes. It ended up with a really good krausen though, so I hope that’s indicative of it being boiled well enough.

I wasn’t actually shooting for a particular OG - in fact, I got my first hydrometer with this batch of ingredients. The OG I measured was just under 2.5%.

I had always heard that a 90-minute boil was suggested for pilsner malt but I have to admit that I never do this and it’s not an issue. I don’t know if that suggestion went out the window with super-modified malts or what. The other thing they suggest is a good, quick chill with pilsner malt which I always try to do. I have made very pale, wimpy beers with pilsner malt and flaws would stick out very clearly if they existed so my guess is that you’re good. Keep us posted on the beer!

My understanding has always been that you boil pils worts for 90 minutes in an attempt to flash off the DMS that is producted during the boil. According to the pundits, pils malt generates a lot more DMS than other more highly kilned malts. The reason you want to cool the wort really fast is because the DMS will still be produced above like 180F even after the heat is turned off (I may well have the temperature off but that is the number I rember). I have been doing this hobby over 25 years and I started doing 90 minute boils per C. Papasian and because I am a creature of habit and have just never changed (plus I know how much evaporation will take place in my system doing a 90 minute boil). However, if Mr. Lenard says 60 minutes works then I say to hell with the pundits, save yourself a little time. A little bit of DMS is however acceptable in the light lagers and is in fact an expected component of the flavor of those styles (of course in moderation).

As far as lemon flavor goes, I personally think coriander makes the brew taste of oranges rather than lemons. I have dumped the rind of lemons (and grapefruits for that matter) into beers with good result. I generally add them at about 5 minutes to knock out. I think that tends to affect the aroma more than the flavor however. There is this stuff called Lemon Grass that some add to beer but I have never used it myself. You might check R. Mosier’s book “Radical Brewing”, he goes into great detail concerning the addition of all sorts of stuff to beer. Good luck and have fun.

El Capitan - I like the looks of that for a light summer brew. I have some of the HBC342 experimental hops that are described as:

“It’s aroma can be described as mild, pleasant, citrusy, and tropical, with some melon notes as well”

I have been looking a recipe to try them on and this looks like just the ticket!

I think you’ll be pleased with the Blonde Ale. I’m teaching a few guys AG brewing in a couple weeks, and we’ll be doing the Centennial Blonde (kind of just to prove that not all homebrew is dark and strong), along with a nut brown ale.

I’m getting ready to shift gears into autumn beers, but I’ll definitely rebrew the Centennial Blonde. :cheers:

Well, after fermenting and conditioning, I finally got a chance to taste the beer.

I used the zest of only 2 lemons, and dumped them in the last 5 minutes of the boil along with the 2nd batch of zythos hops and the ground coriander, and didn’t add any additional lemon flavoring or zest to the fermentation process.

The beer came out with a fruity, citrus-like flavor with only a hint of lemon. The smell of lemon is far more prominent than the taste of lemon (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). The body is not too bad - light on the palate, but the flavor of the beer as a whole is - frankly - a little bland. There’s more citrus flavor than beer flavor, so it has kind of an odd citrus/sweet/sour thing going on.

Additionally, I didn’t get a lot of carbonation either. I barely get a head after a pour - but I’m fairly sure that’s my own fault - I didn’t get any priming sugar (completely forgot about that), and when bottling time came and I realized my mistake, I used powdered cane sugar instead (I added about 2 oz extra, for 7 oz of powdered sugar).

Anyway, not quite what I was hoping for - it’s drinkable, but I’ll definitely be tweaking the recipe before I try it again. At least it’s not as bad as drinking pledge. :mrgreen:

For reference, I recently made a batch of something similar to Sam Adams Summer Ale. It’s on tap now and quite nice whether it’s like the original or not. For the lemon, I used the zest of just one lemon and I saved it for secondary. I zested the medium-to-large lemon and put the zest into a small lidded bowl with a splash of vodka to sanitize it. I also used some grains of paradise as SA does and next time I might ditch the GOP altogether or possibly use a small amount of pepper instead. When I racked the beer to secondary, I added the lemon zest/GOP/vodka mixture and racked the beer on top and let it sit that way for 3-4 weeks and then kegged it. Anyway, the lemon character I got was really nice and perfectly balanced. It’s very “fresh” because I didn’t add the lemon zest to the brewpot (which might burn off some of the subtle flavor you want) which means it also didn’t have to go through the primary which might scrub out even more flavor. The zest of one lemon added to the secondary of a 5-gallon batch is very nice. Just my 2¢. Cheers.

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