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Citrus zest for Belgian white - dried vs real fruit

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madcapstudios

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I'm gonna start doing my warm weather beers and want to do a Belgian White for SWMBO - with zest of orange, lemon and lime.

I've found the prepackaged orange zest in my homebrew supply catalogs. Any thoughts on using dried zest from LBHS vs what you might find in the grocery store baking section vs zesting up real fruit yourself? With zest from real fruit, is there a risk of astringent flavors (like when a lime sits overnight in a glass of water? Yes, I've drank gin and tonic leavings upon waking up).

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Fave recipes as well!
 

discgolfin

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I go with real fruit..the zest of an orange..tangerine..just keep the white out and it will give it much more aroma than dryed zest..

J
 

jmulligan

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+1 for fresh fruit zest. BierMuncher's belgian wit uses like 3-4 ounces of fresh orange zest per 5 gallons (in the boil, last 10 minutes), and it added a nice citrus flavor.
 

flyangler18

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I suppose it's a question of whether you want to get fresh citrus notes in the Witbier or brew things traditionally?

I've always used the dried bitter orange peel in my Witbier and that is the flavor that I expect when I sample wits. YMMV.
 

Wild Duk

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So how many oranges does it take to get 3-4 oz. of zest?
 

Edcculus

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This goes along with something I've been wondering. Why would anyone buy spices from a LHBS? Orange peel, corriander etc. They are in crappy skechy packaging. They look old. I would never use any of the spices I have seen in any LHBS in any cooking application. Why brewing.

In this case, fresh is probably fine. In other cases, source good quality spices.
 

Chris300s

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This goes along with something I've been wondering. Why would anyone buy spices from a LHBS? Orange peel, corriander etc. They are in crappy skechy packaging. They look old. I would never use any of the spices I have seen in any LHBS in any cooking application. Why brewing.

In this case, fresh is probably fine. In other cases, source good quality spices.
A couple of the books recommend to use LHBS spices because they'll be fresher than the grocery store. I haven't really found that to be the case, i.e. not very fresh at LHBS either.
I've been using fresh peeled orange and tangerine zest in my last couple of Wits and it worked out perfectly. I used the peel from 1 tangerine or 1/2 orange and it seems about right. I just got cracked corriander from the local brewery. Talk about fresh! Very bright fruity aroma, by comparison the grocery store Corriander had almost no smell even after cracking.
One suggestion, go easy on the corriander, 1/4-1/2 oz. for 5-gallons.
 

Edcculus

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A couple of the books recommend to use LHBS spices because they'll be fresher than the grocery store. I haven't really found that to be the case, i.e. not very fresh at LHBS either.
I've been using fresh peeled orange and tangerine zest in my last couple of Wits and it worked out perfectly. I used the peel from 1 tangerine or 1/2 orange and it seems about right. I just got cracked corriander from the local brewery. Talk about fresh! Very bright fruity aroma, by comparison the grocery store Corriander had almost no smell even after cracking.
One suggestion, go easy on the corriander, 1/4-1/2 oz. for 5-gallons.
Yea, grocery stores are pretty much crap for getting fresh spices too. No matter what, you are always better off buying whole spices and grinding your own.
 

Bob

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I've always used the dried bitter orange peel in my Witbier and that is the flavor that I expect when I sample wits. YMMV.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

When I sample Witbier, I expect bitter Curacao orange peel and coriander. Any lack of either is a ding, any additions to them a possible bonus.

See, this whole debate stems from a misunderstanding: that the orange is there to provide orange flavor only. The orange in Wit isn't entirely a flavor thing - it's also balancing bitterness! The best Wits have relatively low IBU from hops, because the hops bitterness combines with the orange bitterness to balance the sweetness. Using another approximation of flavors and bitterness - i.e., fresh zest and more hops - just doesn't taste 'right' to my palate. It tastes like an approximation.

Like Jason wrote, though, YMMV. The above is my opinion.

Bob
 

katja

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A sidenote on the coriander - if you have a local co-op, farmer's market or farm store, check there for the freshest bulk spices. I visist a Mennonite farm store that buys in bulk and repackages themselves. Everything is very fresh and cheap too.
 

flyangler18

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See, this whole debate stems from a misunderstanding: that the orange is there to provide orange flavor only. The orange in Wit isn't entirely a flavor thing - it's also balancing bitterness! The best Wits have relatively low IBU from hops, because the hops bitterness combines with the orange bitterness to balance the sweetness. Using another approximation of flavors and bitterness - i.e., fresh zest and more hops - just doesn't taste 'right' to my palate. It tastes like an approximation.
I know we're getting off topic here, but I wonder if this trend within the homebrewing community of eschewing Curacao orange peel in favor of fresh zest is similar to how distiller's malt inserted itself into Strong Scotch Ale?

Just ruminating.
 

adamjab19

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I think the fresh zest thing came from the "homebrewing tradition" of hands on, look I did this on my own mentality. Sure if you want it like the big boys or to specs. go with the dry peel. If you want a little more hands on work, a different taste than the big boys, or in fact some additional sweetness go for the fresh zest. I did a mix of dry and fresh in my wit and thought that was great too.

I had to make a huge jump on my last couple recipes of not being too afraid and just trying some stuff out. A leap of faith if you will. Everyone has great opions on here about ingredients, but until you personally try it you just don't know.
 

Bob

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I know we're getting off topic here, but I wonder if this trend within the homebrewing community of eschewing Curacao orange peel in favor of fresh zest is similar to how distiller's malt inserted itself into Strong Scotch Ale?

Just ruminating.
:off:

Or peated malt. That takes the cake.

I think it comes from either thinking waaaaaaay too hard, or not thinking hard enough. On the one hand, it's faulty logic. On the other, it's other people reading about the first guy's faulty logic and continuing the mistake.

"Scotch whiskey is from Scotland. Scotch ale is from Scotland. Scotch whiskey uses distiller's malt. So must Wee Heavy!"

"Gosh! Supah-genius homebrewer says Wee Heavy uses distiller's malt. We all must do so!"

:rolleyes:

Bob
 

BarrelOfBrew

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We have a Belgian strong dark ale in primary right now... used the outer rind from 2 fresh oranges, plus coriander and cardamom. Hope we didn't use too much coriander, but it didn't seem overly flavorful or fresh. The coriander and cardamom did come from the LHBS (but not the oranges!).
 

SpanishCastleAle

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The way I do it is if I'm calling it a Belgian Wit then I make a Belgian Wit and use the appropriate ingredients but if I'm just making a beer inspired by a Belgian Wit (like using fresh orange, lemon, and lime zest) then I call it something else (like...Spanish Castle Ale ;)). I would think either zest could be a good addition when done right.

I agree with NQ3X on the bitterness thing too. The bitterness from the zest def needs to be taken into account. One thing I noticed about the fresh zest in an ale I recently kegged was that it's bitterness hit you well after you had taken the sip/gulp. You got hit with the maltyness first then it transitioned to more bitterness afterward...but not leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. Different bitterness than from hops but still part of the balance to the malt.
 

Corey_James

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So, what I am understanding is that if I would use fresh tangerine in a Wit, it would not be a Wit. My problem with using orange of any sort is that I have an allergy to oranges and would rather not pay the price for having to eat or drink them or anything containing them. I can eat and drink other citrus, just not oranges. How much zest would be too much?
 

Saccharomyces

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So, what I am understanding is that if I would use fresh tangerine in a Wit, it would not be a Wit. My problem with using orange of any sort is that I have an allergy to oranges and would rather not pay the price for having to eat or drink them or anything containing them. I can eat and drink other citrus, just not oranges. How much zest would be too much?
You could use tangerine or grapefruit or whatever. You might get dinged some BJCP style points in a comp, but in Belgium they don't really give a rat about styles and neither should you... it's your beer! :mug:
 
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