Fruit and Spice Beer Hibiscus, Blood Orange & Sichuan Peppercorn Witbier

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Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT Supporter
Dec 11, 2007
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"Detroitish" Michigan
Recipe Type
All Grain
Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wit or other favorite Witbier/Belgian Yeast
Yeast Starter
As needed
Batch Size (Gallons)
5 gallons
Original Gravity
1.072 (1.055 before addition of Blood Orange pulp & Juice Post fermentation @1.017)
Final Gravity
Boiling Time (Minutes)
Pink like a cloudy grapefruit juice
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
2 weeks (room temp)
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
12 days (after adding Blood Orange Pulp and Juice
Tasting Notes
The Hibiscus & Blood Orange adds a floral tart undertone, & the peppercorns tingle.
Every spring/Summer I like to experiment with a new fruit or spice based version of my base Belgian Witbier. One of the most popular with my friends is my pomegranate wit, which takes the same grainbill and I take 3 quarts of Pom brand Pomegranate Juice (which I boil down and reduce by half) and at it with 15 minutes left in the boil. This makes for a nice tart summer beer.

This year I decided to try something different. I've wanted to experiment with using one of my favorite Asian cooking ingredients- Sichuan Peppercorns in a beer, with the hope that the unique mouth numbing/tingling sensation would carry through the fermentation process (for more info on this ingredient here's the wikipedia article and an interesting article on various ways to use this fun spice from Serious Eats.)

I know from experience, having infused my own gins with home made 5 spice powder (which Sichuan Peppercorns are one of the spices) that alcohol is a great carrier for their numbing oils, but I wasn't sure if they'd survive the boiling process.

One of the ways I get inspiration for both cooking and brewing experiments is to look at "Food Pairing" charts and apps such as those found at The science of foodpairing is relatively new, and came about through the work of British Chef Heston Blumenthal and his collaboration with Harvard University's Food Science department. It's very "molecular gastronomy" and is fascinating. What they found out (and you should look at some of his videos- Such as his "Heston's Feasts" and Kitchen Chemistry videos found on both youtube and dailymotion-) is that foods that taste good together do so because they share on a molecular level certain similar chemicals (Ketones.) So they were then able to look at ingredients that people wouldn't think would work together and match them up in surprising new ways that often boosted each other- Salted Caramel is one of those things that boosted in popularity because of this... but on a different note did you know that Bleu Cheese and Chocolate.

ANYWAY.... while looking for something to complement the peppercorns and looking at a foodpairings chart I saw that Peppercorns, Blood Oranges and Hibiscus Flowers connected to each other. After seeing that I googled looking for dessert recipes, and found a few that either had all 3 ingredients in it, or recipes that may have only had 2 of the three in any given recipe.

So it seemed intriguing and this beer was born. I live in a multi-ethnic town where Middle Eastern, Asian, Polish, and Indian groceries abound and are usually near each other so I had no problem getting the ingredients easily. In fact I got the Hibiscus Tea from the Polish Market across from the Middle Eastern Grocery/Fruit Market that had the Blood Oranges dirt cheap (I think I paid 3 dollars for 12 fairly large ones.) I already had the Peppercorns on hand.


The Tea brand I used was MALWA Brand Hibiscus Tea (100% Dried Hibiscus Flowers) Each box is 1.7 ounces or 50 grams.


4 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner
2 lbs Flaked Wheat
2 lbs White Wheat Malt
1 lbs Flaked Oats

0.33 oz Sorachi Ace @60


62.50 g Dried Hibiscus Flowers (Boil 15.0 mins)
3.33 oz Blood Orange Peel (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.50 oz Sichuan Peppercorns (Boil 15.0 mins)
62.50 g Dried Hibiscus Flowers (Boil 0.0 mins)
3.33 oz Blood Orange Peel (Boil 0.0 mins)
0.50 oz Sichuan Peppercorns (Boil 0.0 mins)

The Pulp and Juice of 12 blood oranges (secondary fermentation in bucket after 14 days.)

See the notes and instructions for how all these ingredients are handled.

Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wit or other favorite Witbier/Belgian Yeast

Mash In Add 12.88 qt of water at 163.9 F 150.0 F (for 60 minutes)

Sparge with 4.5 gal water at 168.0 F

90 Minute Boil- Because Pilsner

Notes & Instructions for handling the ingredients.

1) If you want to input this recipe into your favorite brewing software I inputted 2.2 pounds of table sugar in the recipe as a placeholder for determining beersmith gravity and IBU numbers- it represents the 2 Pounds, 10.5 ounces of blood orange pulp and juice added at 2 weeks into fermentation.

The number to use was based on the gravity reading I took of a drop of the blood orange juice I took with a refractometer, it gave me a reading of 4.5 brix, which converted to 1.017sg.

I had already inputted my recipe in to beersmith and was given a starting gravity of JUST THE GRAIN of 1.055. I added 1.017 to that, which gave me a gravity of 1.072.

I then added a pound of sugar into the recipe in beersmith, and kept raising that amount until the estimated gravity of the recipe gave me 1.072. (This is just so I can know the abv and the ibus of the recipe- it will be different for your recipe depending on how sweet your oranges are and how big.)


On brew day the after peeling the oranges the segments were put vacuum bags, sealed with my foodsaver, crushed a bit by hand and frozen for 2 weeks while the beer fermented. This helped break the cell walls so more flavor would be imparted in the beer, AND it helped kill off any microorganisms. See instruction 6 for what happened after 2 weeks of fermentation.

If you don't have a vacuum sealer you can do something similar with regular ziplock bags using the water displacement method that many people starting out in ghetto sous-vide cooking do.

2) The "6.69 OZ" of peels represents the peels of 12 average sized blood orange. They were carefully pealed with a potato peeler leaving most of the white, bitter, pith behind.

3) The 125 grams of dried Hibiscus Flowers is 2.5 boxes of MALWA Brand Hibiscus Tea (100% Hibiscus Flowers) Each box is 1.7 ounces or 50 grams.

4) The one ounce of Sichuan Peppercorns were dry pan toasted and lightly "mauled" with the back of a spoon to open up the oils.

5) The Blood Orange Peels, Hibiscus Flowers & The Peppercorns were split into 2 batches- the first were added at 15 and the second batch were added about 10 or 15 minutes into the cooling cycle. It's listed as flameout in the recipe but I delayed a bit, hoping to retain any different ketones that may have been lost in the first addition during the boil.

I use a hop spider made from a pvc pipe and mesh bag (with marbles in it) to add hops and spices into my kettle and keep them out of the final beer.

6) After 2 weeks of fermentation, the vacuum bag of blood orange pulp and juice was pulled out of the freezer, left to begin to thaw for about an hour, then placed in a sanitized fine mesh bag and hung in the fermenter bucket for about 12 days. Any juice in the vacuum bag was poured into the bucket.

7) On day 12- kegging day, with sanitzed gloves on carefully lifted the bag slightly out of the bucket and squeezed it carefully into the beer until no more juice came out. Pulp was discarded. Beer was then racked into keg and carbed.

The Beer is... Amazing. It's hard to describe, and I can't wait for feedback from tasters. It's very subtle, none of the flavors are strong and overpowering, instead the Hibiscus give a gentle floral taste and smell to the beer, while the blood orange imparts a citrus tartness.

There's little or no hop character, which is fine.

The Sichuan Peppercorns do indeed add a slight tingling and numbness when drinking it. It's subtle at first, but builds up with a few sips, until you realize what is happening. I'm looking forward to seeing the look on people's faces who don't know what they do.

The color is interesting. This pic is the first full pull after burst carbing it for 2 days....It kind of looks like fizzy pink grapefruit juice with a nice head on it.


Those of you who are familiar with my magnetic tap handle thread probably know that I do sort of a pinup theme for my beers... this is the graphic I made for it.


(Ignore the ABV/IBUs on it- While typing up this recipe I realized I made a mistake on my brewsheet and used the wrong number for OG when calculating it- I caught it when making this thread.)

Some Final Thoughts

1) Like I said the flavors are not in your face- they are subtle, as is the mouth numbing effect of the peppercorns. You can bump everything up if you want. But personally I like the balance of everything as is.

2) The flavors aren't "sweet" I am curious as to what maybe a half pound or less of lactose would have on the beer.

To me there are 2 kinds of fruit beers out there. Craft Fruit and Spice beers, tend to be subtle like this. BUT then there are the mass market fruit beers like those made by Linenkugle- which to me are cloyingly sweet and artificial tasting. But there's a huge market for them... so if that's someone's boat, then go for it.

BUT First I encourage you to make this recipe as is... even a test batch (just scale everything down.) And then based on what you think of this version... play around.



I'm sure I left stuff out.... so don't hesitate to ask.


Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2016
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Interesting, I've been using Sichuan in my spice ales. I find that the taste is extremely noticeable at between three and five peppercorns, I imagine half and once my mouth would be completely numb.

Interestingly, it reminds me of a Sichuan orange beef recipe minus the chili's.


New Member
Feb 10, 2021
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@Revvy Hi! I'm very interested in doing a 3gal BIAB batch and trying the lactose you were referring. I was wondering if there's a way you could export and share the beersmith and giving me some tips for the orange scaling (i don't have a refractometer). I've tried with the table sugar but my OG doesn't fit your values (for your 5gal recipe), i get a 1.062 OG.