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If you’ve read a few of my articles here then it’s obvious I’m pretty loyal to dramatic cable TV shows: Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and yes…. Dexter.  During the open of Dexter there is a scene where he is cutting and juicing some Moro oranges, known by most as “Blood Oranges”. I never ate a Moro orange before I saw it on Dexter, but when I finally tasted one I knew somehow this was going into one of my beers.  During the 2011 season I had an idea to brew a sour/wild beer using blood oranges, but the blood orange season had already past. 2 weeks ago I saw the oranges were in season and on sale so I bought 25 pounds. Oh yeah, a blood orange lambic was in my future!

On March 14th I brewed a 23 gallon batch to be split 3 different ways. All would use the same base wort, but get varying amounts of blood oranges and fermented 3 different ways but all pitched at 65F.

Base recipe:

Dexter Morgan’s Funky Side

OG-1.051, IBU- 3, 153F Mash Temp, 60 Minute Boil

  • Briess White Wheat – 50%
  • Franco Belges Pale Malt – 35%
  • Wyermann Munich – 9%
  • Wyermann Acidulated Malt- 6%
  • Saaz 3%AA 3 IBUS @45 Minutes
  • Saaz 3%AA @0 Minutes (1oz per 5.5 gallons of wort)

Moro oranges cut and weighed out

I let the base beer ferment for 5 days before I added the oranges. I peeled, cut up, and smushed the oranges into a size I could easily dump into the carboys. I did crush some of the oranges into a juice. One of the most tedious parts of the orange prep process was removing as much of the “white rind” and stringy bits as I could. I found a cheese grater worked really well after the main skin was peeled for removing the small bits of white rind still stuck on the orange. I was able to get a good amount off the oranges, but knowing I wouldn’t be able to remove it all is one reason the hop IBUs are low in this recipe. The white parts will add some bitterness, so I tried to compensate for the left overs I couldn’t remove.

The oranges went into a bowl that had a few ounces of Vodka that I spread around on the oranges. Approximate amounts of peeled cut up oranges 5lbs per carboy, although I think the house funk carboy got about 5.5lbs. A small amount of orange peel zest was added to each carboy, I’m not sure on the amount though. Call it 2 pinches.

1.054 Gravity

I did get the gravity and ph of the blood oranges but accidentally deleted the ph picture. However I can report the measured ph was 3.6. The gravity of my blood oranges I had came to 1.054.

Using a large mouth funnel the juices and pulp poured right into the carboys with only a few pieces needing that extra smash with a spoon. As I was pouring in the oranges I also had a 2 psi stream of co2 going to lessen the chance of oxygen pick up.

Left Brett C+WLP320, Right is Funky Melting Pot blend at 24 hours

48 hours, temp up to 70

Blood Oranges In The Lambic version

As of this post the oranges have been in the carboys for almost 5 days. Today I decided to pull samples for gravity readings and tasting. 10 days into this batch and I’m really liking what’s going on. The Brett C+WLP20 version is showing some great playfulness between the yeasts and the oranges. Really complimenting each other very early on. The funky version is showing lactic acid flavors and great orange/grapefruit/raspberry flavors. I do think the beers will darken up and get redder as the oranges break down more and drop out. Right now they are all floating at the top of the carboy.

As always I’ll update this post when I get some new info for you, but so far I’m happy with what I am tasting. I did buy a few more pounds of oranges that I’m going to juice then freeze in case I need to add more out of season.  The yeasts will determine the beer schedule but right now I’m hoping to serve the Brett version in July. Should be a nice crisp citrus wild treat for the hottest part of the summer and for the new season of Dexter a few weeks later!

3/23/2012 Gravity Reading (Brett C + WLP320) 1.008


3/23/2012 Gravity Reading (Melting Pot Microbe Blend) 1.012


5/16/2012 Gravity Reading (Brett C + WLP320) 1.003 . Beer has dropped very clear, the Brett C flavors/aroma are peaking through. Another month in the carboy should be good.

5/16/2012 Gravity Reading (Melting Pot Microbe Blend) 1.006 . Big Lacto and Citric flavors. When finished this beer will not be for wussy mouths. I’ll probably take another reading in July.

**************UPDATE 7/14/2012 (WLP320/Brett C Version)**************

Sample got cloudy when I moved the carboy for bottling

This version is now bottled up and undergoing carbonation. As you can see by the picture this batch fermented all the way out. One last minute change I made to this batch was I decided to dry hop it. I had about 1oz of Citra pellets I needed to use so I tossed them in at 70F and let them sit for 10 days. The aroma on this beer at bottling is huge pineapple and oranges. I can’t wait to start sharing bottles of this version.