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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Lemon as an ingredient
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:25 PM   #1
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Default Lemon as an ingredient

After drinking a bottle of Sam Adam's Costal Wheat I now think I would like to try to start brewing with lemon, but I have a few questions about using this tart citrus. Personally I love lemon (use to eat lemon wedges whole as a kid), but I am not sure of the do's and don'ts for using it. For example is Lemon only usable in a Hefeweizen and other wheat beers? Could it be used in a blonde ale? Is lemon or citrus in general only used in pale to blonde beers?

Also, what is the best way to infuse the flavor in the beer? I have read a few recipes indicating that you put the zest in the boil, but I have also head that you want to throw zest in the carboy after your fermentation is just about done.

Would the lemon juice ever be used, I've read a lot about zest and peel, but nothing about the juice.

Finally what quantities would you use the zest or juice in the boil or the carboy. I defiantly want to try some experimenting but really don't want to shoot in the dark. Thanks!

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Old 02-06-2013, 06:32 PM   #2
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Lemon zest of about 3-4 average lemons at 5 minutes in the boil will add a lemon aroma to the beer, but not particularly taste, even though aroma is easily percieved as taste by many.

To get any appreciable lemon taste in the beer, you need to use actual lemon or lemon juice in secondary, or even add it to the bottles/keg. Just note that the citric acid lowers the PH of your beer, and yeast HATEEEE low PH, so you often need to start off with a big yeast starter and sometimes repitch yeast into secondary or at bottling when working with anything acidic.

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:43 AM   #3
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Interesting so adding zest to the fermentor doesn't do much of anything? What about the wheat or barley aspect. Can you use lemon in any beer or just wheat beers?

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Old 02-07-2013, 11:22 AM   #4
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Try tossing in some lemongrass at flameout...bruise the grass (aka make breaks or cuts along it) first then add it. It really helps. I did a lemony wheat beer last year like this...there are also many hops that tend to give a lemon aroma as well.

And you can put it in whatever you want...go for it.

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:09 PM   #5
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+1 to Hops....

Sorachi Ace gives a very pronounced lemon flavor when used as the flavoring addition, as well as lemon aroma when used as the aroma addition.

Just that hop alone is a great substitute for real lemons in lighter beer styles.

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Old 02-07-2013, 04:06 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advise. At what point in the boil would you use the Sorachi Ace? 15 minutes? I was thinking about doing a blonde ale with a lemon infusion, but want to add some sweet undertones to the bew. How would be the max amount of crystal malt I should use?

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Old 02-07-2013, 04:14 PM   #7
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Do at least 1.0 oz of Sorachi Ace @ 15, and 1.0 oz @ 5. The lemon zest of 3 lemons at 5 min would compliment this nicely. Be careful not to zest down to the pith, the pith is very bitter.

For the sweet undertones, go with 0.5-1.0 lbs (5-10% of the grain bill) of honey malt in the brew. It'll do that job without making your beer red/brown like crystal would. I don't think you want a red blonde lemon beer.

Good luck!

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Old 02-08-2013, 03:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopherM View Post
Lemon zest of about 3-4 average lemons at 5 minutes in the boil will add a lemon aroma to the beer, but not particularly taste, even though aroma is easily percieved as taste by many.

To get any appreciable lemon taste in the beer, you need to use actual lemon or lemon juice in secondary, or even add it to the bottles/keg. Just note that the citric acid lowers the PH of your beer, and yeast HATEEEE low PH, so you often need to start off with a big yeast starter and sometimes repitch yeast into secondary or at bottling when working with anything acidic.
Apple juice has a pH of around 3.5, and yeast thrive in it. So I wouldn't worry about the pH; you'd have to add an ungodly amount of lemon juice to noticeably impair the yeast. Repitching at bottling with a 99 cent pack of champagne yeast wouldn't hurt anything. Champagne yeast loves low pH. I concur with the rest of the thread, however.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:23 AM   #9
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I had a lemon cream or blond ale. I honestly can't recall. It was definitely not a wheat. It was somewhat medicinal, but I think that is because he used a lemon extract. It reminded me of limoncello.

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Old 02-08-2013, 01:03 PM   #10
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Got it, so lemon extract might not be the best way to go. Thanks! I think i'll first try a combination of Sorachi Ace, Lemon grass (which I never thought of!) and zest in the boil and fermenter and see what I get. I should probably pair my batch down to 1 gallon or so, instead of making 5 gallons of a lemon punch to the face.

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