Why not make the first post a homebrewing post (first in almost a year!). So, as the season turns, I get that incurable itch to make my own beer for summer. I like to make my own summer beers for the simple reason that most summery wheat beers taste relatively similar. I am not saying they taste the same, but the goal of any wheat beer is to taste the wheat malt, maybe add some form of citrus, and some form of spice as an accent. That might remind you of macro mico beer versions such as Shock Top or Blue Moon; these beers are good and relatively simple to make. The gap between a fantastic wheat beer and a good wheat beer isn’t that huge. And I can definitely say I have not had a bad wheat beer, so, why not make my own? These brewing opportunities are usually good opportunities to take a simple clean slate and see how new flavors mix with beer. A couple years ago, I had a lot of success using kiwi in a lighter kolsch which was very successful. While that was fun, I almost cut my fingers off several times slicing the slimy 5 lbs of kiwis….so something else.
Minneolas! A funky fruit I had seen while shopping at Trader Joe’s (Yes I shop at Trader Joe’s, don’t judge). The sweet and tart combination of a mandarin orange and a grapefruit has a peel that is unique, bright and tart so I decided to give that a try. Now, as a homebrewer, I have noticed brew shops selling things like orange peels by the check out, and I can’t deny that I have purchased them for brewing. Well, I am never going to do that again. I will be buying the whole fruits when I am just using the rind. It’s like when we all were little and making collages with things like candy bar wrappers. Why would you ask for a candy bar wrapper when you have an excuse to buy and eat a delicious candy bar? Why would I buy rinds when I could also be eating a delicious minneola? It doesn’t make sense to buy someone’s trash.
6.6 lbs Wheat malt extract
1 lb Crystal malt
1.5 oz Cascade Hops.
1 Tablespoon toasted corriander
1.5 oz Minneola Rind
Basic wheat yeast (I use anything that imparts a bubble gum flavor because I find it funny when sophisticated beer snobs sample a beer and say “It has a nice bubble gum flavor.” Possibly the only time this considered positive in food judging)
The process was a simple 20 minute steeping of the Crystal Malt at 155 degrees Farenheight in 2.5 gallons of water. The goal is to maintain the 155 degree temp because the sugars in barley are best extracted at that temperature. If its too low, not enough energy to coax the sugar out. Too much heat, you run the risk of extracting something you don’t want.
After I removed the grain bag and I brought the pot to a boil. The liquid malt extract was added as were an ounce of the Cascade hops. Extract can be added during the boil because it is the sugar that has already been extracted from the grain. During the first part of the boil, I prepared the minneolas by removing the rind and shaving off as much of the white pith on the rind as possible. I did this because the pith has no flavor, and can only negatively effect the batch (all the oil/flavor is in the skin). The The corriander seeds need to be toasted shortly to release their essential oils and then quickly added to the boil at the same time as the remainder of the hops. The rind, hops, and seeds were added at the 50 minute mark.
The total boil time was an hour, and the batch was poured over ice in the fermenter along with chilled water that was sitting in the fridge. The batch dropped very quickly down to 70 degrees and I pitched the yeast at that time and popped the lid on. I didn’t check the gravity because it was such a simple recipe and I didn’t want to worry about that. This is a session beer and, as long as I did everything correctly, I should hit around 4%.
I let the beer ferment for a week and did a secondary fermentation for another week. I normally let the beer sit for a 2 week secondary fermentation, but this is a beer that I wanted to see be a little cloudy (and I was impatient). The secondary fermentation is usually optional, but it is good to let dead yeast cells settle at the bottom of the vessel because they can be unsettling and make the beer cloudy. After the secondary fermentation, I primed the batch and bottled the beers. I gave them a week to sit and here is the finished product.
As you can see, the beer pours a deep slightly cloudy orange color with a nice soapy head. You get a nice whiff of citrus off the bat and a good wheat presence. The beer tastes refreshingly of wheat and citrus without being overpoweringly fruity. The flavor of coriander comes through and the grapefruit notes of the cascade hops add a nice spice and accentuate the minneola’s citrusy note. Overall, I am very happy with my first summer beer of the year (though it won’t last very long).
Anyway, I hope this post was informative and stay tuned for more posts including my next homebrew (an Irish Red).