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How to Prepare and Add Grapefruit to an IPA

Brewing a Grapefruit IPA

A couple months back, we brewed an experimental beer – a white stout. After we finished and got that beer into the fermenter, we decided to buckle down and brew an IPA. So on the fly, we came up with a recipe and doubled our brew day.

Like every other batch of beer we brew, I would take 5 gallons and my brother would take 5 gallons. This time however, we used 2 Ss Brew Buckets for fermentation (rather than our usual 14G Chronical fermenter).

2 days prior to kegging my beer, I decided that I wanted to add grapefruit to it. Inspired by the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, I decided to try my hand at adding grapefruit to a beer.

Here’s what you’ll need to get going:
Preparing Grapefruit for a Grapefruit IPA

What follows is the process that I used to prepare the grapefruit and add it to the beer. I came up with these methods after a bit of research and after talking to a few different brewers. The IPA that we brewed was good. The grapefruit IPA was great.

Start with 3 grapefruits for a 5 gallon batch (you see 6 in the images here because we’re currently working on a 10 gallon batch).

Begin by washing/scrubbing all of your grapefruits. This should go without saying since they’ll all be added to your beer. The vodka will help neutralize everything, but better safe than sorry.

Once your grapefruits are washed and rinsed, get out your potato peeler and begin peeling the grapefruits into your Tuperware.

Try to take wide pieces of the skin without going too deep. You do not want to get into the white, pithy part of the skin as this tends to have a tart bitterness.

Peel all but 1 grapefruit, leaving 1/2 to 1 whole grapefruit. For this final grapefruit, get out your lemon zester and zest the remaining skin into the Tuperware.

Once all of your grapefruits have been peeled and zested, bag them up put them in the fridge. You’ve now got a healthy breakfast for the next few days.

I don’t use any of the actual fruit in the beer, just the skin. I had talked to people who had used the meat of oranges, blood oranges and grapefruits in their secondary, but results seemed to be much more flavor than they preferred.

When adding grapefruit to our IPA, I was looking for grapefruit aroma and just a hint of flavor to complement the hops in the beer. Not the other way around. If I want to taste grapefruit, I’ll eat one. When adding it to the beer, I want subtlety.

Back to the task at hand, prepping the grapefruit peels.

Cover your glorious grapefruit in cheap vodkaWith all the zest and peels in the Tuperware, fill it with enough vodka to submerge all of the grapefruit peels. I used about 6-8oz for our 10 gallon batch.

Put the lid on the Tuperware and give it a few good shakes, mixing the zest in with the thick peels. Then put it in the fridge and let it sit for 12-24 hours.

After the peels have soaked in the vodka, its time to add them to the secondary. I recommend doing this about 24-36 hours prior to kegging. Add the peels and vodka into your fermenter.

One thing I have to admit – making any additions into the fermenter is incredibly easy with the Ss Brew Tech line of fermenters. Whether dry hopping, adding grapefruit, adding 1 pound of whole coffee beans (like we did with our white stout) or anything else, just unclip the clamps on the lid, briefly open it and add whatever you need to, then reset the lid and clamp it back down.

I poured the peels into a muslin bag so I wouldn’t have to worry about the peels or the zest getting sucked into or clogging my diptube while racking. I then looped the bag over the edge of the fermenter so it’d be easy to remove prior to kegging.

That’s about it. After the grapefruit has been in the beer for 24-36 hours, rack the beer to your keg and carbonate as you normally would.

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Stay tuned. Once this second batch of our grapefruit IPA is complete, we’ll share the recipe in another blog post.

Do you add fruit to your beers?

We’d love to hear your method and process. Leave us a comment below.

About Brendan

A self employed e-commerce developer, Brendan co-created PartsLogix. In his “free time”, he coaches volleyball, enjoys homebrewing, mountain biking and hacking up golf courses. Connect with him on Google+ or Twitter.

  • Oscar Flores Gutiérrez

    This looks good!! How would it change if I don’t really put my beer into secondary fermenter? I’m afraid of the risk of contamination due to many beer transfers.

    Did you also upload the recipe? I would like to try it next weekend: Thanks

    • Keg Outlet

      Hey @oscarfloresgutirrez:disqus – Sorry for the late reply, just saw this comment. I don’t see why you couldn’t do this without transferring. Just add the orange rinds as specified after the primary fermentation.

      I don’t think we uploaded that recipe anywhere. I would just apply the orange process to your favorite IPA recipe (if you haven’t done so already).

  • Colin

    Could you use StarSan instead of the Vodka? Just wondering if the vodka is strictly for sterilization or if it helps with the grapefruit flavor.

    • Keg Outlet

      StarSan probably could be used, however we used the vodka for both sterilization and as an additive since soaking the rind extracts oils / tastes / flavors. Rather than just adding sanitized skins, we added the skins and the vodka to the fermenter.

      i think soaking in StarSan and then just adding the rinds (I wouldn’t want to add StarSan) would cause a lot of the flavor to be lost.

  • Elena Polloni

    good morning. My name is Elena and I am new to brewing artezanal beer. I want to incorporate grapefruit into a golden ale and your article is the most complete of everything I’ve read. But I have a doubt: when incorporating vodka into beer and then put sugar to carbonate, do not explode the bottles ??
    Thank you very much and good beer

    • Keg Outlet

      Hi @elenapolloni:disqus – Thanks for reaching out! The vodka should be very minimal and really have no effect on the overall alcohol or bottle conditioning of your beer. It is simply used to help sterilize the grapefruit skin and help extract some flavor as well.

  • d griffin

    Doing this on my next batch!