Top Secret Stuff & Disclaimer
At Natural Citrus Ingredients we’re experts in citrus peel. Experts in brewing techniques—not so much!
With that said, our customers in the craft beer industry are very important to us and along the way we’ve learned a few things because we want consider us as more than just a supplier, but a valuable resource and business partner.
The information below, is not meant to be, and is not the end-all and be-all of adding citrus to your recipes. It is however a good jumping off point to help you get started adding a citrus note or two to your brew. To get that perfect citrus note for your brew, be prepared to experiment.
One thing that we have researched, learned, and proven is that the pith (albedo) does NOT contain bitter flavor, or much flavor at all for that matter. All of the wonderful aroma and flavor, and the bitterness are contained in the outer layer (flavedo). So, how do you get the wonderful aroma and flavor without getting the bitterness too? Check out “Does Your Citrus Contain The Rind?” below.
How Much Citrus Do I Add Per Barrel?
Ok, this is of course completely subjective but, a good starting point is around 5 pounds per 30 bbl.
Does Your Peel Contain Rind?
Most of the time, when we are asked this question it is because of concerns over the rind adding a bitter flavor to the brew.
If that is the case you, here is a little-known fact; rind is NOT bitter.
In fact, the rind has very little flavor at all! There is a simple test that you can do to see for yourself. Simply take an orange and zest it. Once you have accumulated a small pile of some of the deep orange peel, make another pile of zest, but this time zest the rind. Then do a taste test.
We recommend tasting the rind first because it has very little flavor. Now that you’ve done that, get something to drink and a spit bucket close by. Taste the bright orange zest. Mmmm…that’s the stuff!
So how do you keep that bitter flavor out of your beer? We have worked with our local brewery and have found that adding the citrus peel AFTER fermentation yields the best results. The alcohol extracts the citrus flavor and aroma, without giving your brew that bitter taste.
Of course, if you want to add some bitter flavor to your brew, maybe adding some citrus to the boil will be just what’s needed.
How Do I Add Citrus to My Brew?
This is pretty easy. fill a cheesecloth bag, or something similar, with the peel and drop it in your brew. You might want to make sure that you have a string tied to your bag so you can pull it out when it’s finished.
When Do I add Citrus to my Brew?
There is a lot of science to brewing that goes beyond our area of expertise, however, we have learned from our local brewer that if you add citrus peel to the boil you will get a noticeable bitter flavor from the citrus in addition to some citrus flavor and aroma.
If however, adding citrus after fermentation, allows the alcohol to extract the aroma and flavor of the orange without adding a bitter flavor. So we suggest that for most purposes, adding the citrus AFTER fermentation is the BEST time to add the citrus to your brew.
Do You Have Any Suggestions How to Experiment Without Breaking The Bank?
As a matter of fact we do. That’s why we asked the question…but you knew that.
One of our customers keeps a “base” brew in stock or on tap. They will add any adjuncts to a glass or pitcher of their base brew to get an idea of how much of a new product or products they want to add to their brew. Once they get the mixture right, they just have to do the math and extrapolate that out to how many barrels they will produce per production run.