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Thoughts on increasing orange flavor in my beer

I just bottled my first attempt at an orange wheat beer and, while the cascade hop tastes fantastic, the orange flavors are a bit lacking. Here are my thoughts followed by the recipe. Suggestions on how to increase the orange flavor are encouraged.

  1. increase sweet orange peel amount by 2 times on both boiling and dry hopping.
  2. decrease the hop amount even though I like where it is at
  3. combination of 1 and 2

Here is my recipe, just a heads up, I brew one gallon batches for experimental purposes and such.

1 lb (51%) Wheat
9.4 oz (29.9%) 2 row
3 oz (9.6%) CaraPils
3 oz (9.6%) Honey Malt

7 grams Cascade (60 min boil)
3 grams Cascade (30 min boil)
6 grams Cascade (10 min boil)

6 grams sweet orange peel (5 min boil)
6 grams sweet orange peel dry hop (4 days)

0.5 tsp Irish Moss (15 min boil)

Safbrew WB-06 wheat ale yeast

Regarding choice of hops, Amarillo is said to have a more “tangerine” citrus flavor than the “grapefruit” citrus of cascade.

One thing that will definitely work is if you make a tincture of fresh orange zest in a little vodka. Zest some fresh oranges, soak the peels in some vodka for a day or two, then add the orange-infused vodka to the beer. Or, skip the hassle and use orange extract, although from fresh oranges you will get the most realistic flavor.

Or why not add some coriander? It is a spice used in witbiers that tastes very orangey. You can add it during the boil, or you can use the same vodka method above. Just a few grams crushed and soaked in a couple ounces of vodka will add a ton of orange-citrus flavor to your beer.

Is there any significant difference between using vodka as a solvent for various spices like orange and everclear? I ask because everclear is the closest you can get to 100% ethanol and might be a more effective solvent for oils and you would have to use a smaller volume.

Take an orange or two, squeeze most but not all of the juice out of it, then throw the pulpy part in the fermenter.

Everclear is overrated. Cheap vodka is perfect for this application.

I have to say I made a tincture for a raspberry chocolate valentines day stout and you could taste the booze. After researching, as Friar Tuck says, vodka is the move if tincturing.

Oberon has a lot of orange flavor with out any orange zest. Uses Hallertua and Saaz hops and with white labs WLP051 it came out reall fruity and has good orange tast.

Why not the juice too?

Too much of it can mess with your pH. Also, fermented citrus juice tastes nasty.

I have been blown away by what a saison yeast does to fruity beers. I mad a Orange (mixture of sweet and bitteer with some coriander) Saison and it was the Orange flavor just sings.


Another option that I used successfully in my Belgian witbier: boil orange peel in your priming solution, and then use it as you normally would at bottling. Obviously if you’re kegging, you’ll end up keg conditioning your beer instead of force carbonating.

First of all, thanks for the input! I have lots of things to try out if I can’t find the orange flavor I am trying for.

Finally got to taste my beer for the first time and it turned out to be a wheat IPA of sorts with a slight orange taste. The cascade really mellowed out and it tastes great for not being what I originally wanted.

I just brewed another batch but with reduced hops at each addition and double the orange peel so we will see what happens.


Drop by an herbal shop. If they have both bitter and sweet orange peel that would be a great 1st easy change. I have tried with either and both and the both has more “punch” to it.


Increase surface area.

Use a microplane grater and zest your sweet orange. You will have NO PROBLEM getting massive orange flavor in your beer.

My brother switched from a knife to a microplane and had to cut his clementine zest additions by 1/3 in his wit.

Wahoo is right. Microplane some fresh zest into tiny little flakes for the most flavor. If you just throw peels in without grating them, the flavors will not be released nearly as much.

This suggestion might appeal to some brewers and will certainly appall others. Want more orange flavor in your beer? Add some Mt. Dew.

Chris Colby

Chris, you are just nuts. Why not go with orange Crush? :lol:

Trust me on the fresh zest in a little vodka. Works great.

Orange Crush would probably work, too. And I totally believe you regarding fresh zest soaked in vodka. Just giving a(n admittedly) off the wall option.

Chris Colby

Not sure I would rely on hops to give a wheat beer the citrus you’re looking for.

Flying Dog had a “Blood Orange IPA” at their brewery when I visited. It was very orange-ish, red/orange hue, no tartness. The brewer was there and said they used some ungodly amount of blood oranges (they are small, red pulpy and sweet like a tangerine). Plus, DFH has experimented with adding fruit as well, so don’t shy away from fresh fruit.

A late addition of cracked coriander will give you good orange/lemon aroma and flavor. This is what I generally use. Dried, sweet orange peels will give a mellow orange flavor, but I feel like it loses something that I can’t put my finger on. Like oak extract vs. oak chips - it’s oakey, but there something missing.

If you’re going to add soda, I’d like to hear about the results. Maybe consider an all natural orange soda? Sounds bad to me, but I’ve never tried it so…

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