Author Topic: Brewing a Belgian Witbier  (Read 747 times)

Offline jc24

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Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« on: November 18, 2017, 06:31:41 AM »
Just got my Grainfather yesterday and attempted a Belgian Witbier. All went well until I accidentally knocked off the rubber stopper on the filter while whirlpooling so the pump completely clogged. Anyway, going to brew it again tomorrow, and was wondering if I should be adding orange peel instead of zest to the end of the boil, or if to add it after primary fermentation? I also bought a hop spider today to try and minimise the risk of clogging the pump again.

So what are your thoughts on zest vs. peel and adding it during the last 5mins of boil vs. after primary?

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2017, 02:47:34 PM »
It depends what you want.

Bitter orange peel added to the boil does not really add orange flavor so much as a pithy acrid bitterness to the finished beer.  This is the way we made witbiers 20 years ago.  I'd use restraint, as more peel won't add more orange flavor but just more pithiness.  I'm not sure what it would do at end of primary.  A vodka tincture might not be a bad idea, though I don't know if I've tried it.  Is the use of dried bitter orange peel "right" or "wrong"?  I actually don't have an opinion on that.  However what I will tell you is that I might no longer use bitter orange peel in my own witbiers anymore, in favor of.....

Fresh zest added to the boil might do something, but not as much as if added to the end of primary or secondary.  However I would still recommend restraint.  It's been a while since I've made witbier but I'd guess the zest of one orange might be too much for 5 gallons.  Maybe I'd use just a half of one.  I would not add the whole peel, but just the zest.  I would recommend a tincture in a few ounces of vodka, let that soak for a couple days, then add just the flavored vodka to taste at bottling/kegging time.

The predominant orangey flavor in a witbier comes from coriander.  I'd add that at the end of the boil, but a vodka tincture wouldn't be out of the question either.  Again, use restraint.  The stuff is powerful and easy to overdo.  If not sure how much to use, take a guess but then only use 1/3 as much.  It's much stronger than your brain tells you it is.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 02:49:09 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline jc24

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Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2017, 04:13:53 PM »
Yeah I noticed in Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil’s recipe calls for 43g orange zest which seems extreme - that’s the zest of 4 oranges!

Thanks for the response - I’ll try adding zest from half an orange at the end of the boil and see how I go...

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« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 11:04:14 PM by jc24 »

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2017, 06:54:03 PM »
Fresh zest weighs a lot more than dried peel so you need to use a lot more to get the same flavor impact as dried. Same rule applies to using dry herbs vs. fresh herbs.
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Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2017, 09:54:15 PM »
Yeah I noticed in Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil’s recipe calls for 43g orange zest which seems extreme - that’s the zest of 4 oranges!

Thanks for the response - I’ll try adding zest from half an orange at the end of the boil and see how I go...

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My wife loves witbier, so I make Jamil's recipe quite often using the 43 grams of zest which is the same as three good sized oranges. The orange flavor is subdued but blended nicely with the coriander. I boil both for the last five minutes in the kettle. Good stuff!
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Offline el_capitan

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Re: Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2017, 12:38:08 AM »
Yeah I noticed in Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil’s recipe calls for 43g orange zest which seems extreme - that’s the zest of 4 oranges!

Thanks for the response - I’ll try adding zest from half an orange at the end of the boil and see how I go...

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My wife loves witbier, so I make Jamil's recipe quite often using the 43 grams of zest which is the same as three good sized oranges. The orange flavor is subdued but blended nicely with the coriander. I boil both for the last five minutes in the kettle. Good stuff!

+1.  I've done that recipe a couple times too, and it's not too much orange character at all.  If anything, I'd increase it even more. 

Offline Ellismr

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Re: Brewing a Belgian Witbier
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2017, 11:11:02 PM »
I use .5 oz of bitter orange peel,
.5 oz sweet orange peel, .5 oz coarse ground coriander last 5 minutes of the boil.  Turns out great every time


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