Lemon Blonde

I found this recipe a while back on HomeBrewTalk.com, and I've been wanting to brew it ever since. I finally got the chance.


Grain bill:

  • 5.5 lbs pale malt
  • 2 lbs corn meal
  • 0.5 lbs carapils
  • 0.25 lbs Crystal 60


  • 0.5 oz Centennial (%) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 20 minutes
  • 1 oz Cascade @ flameout

Extra stuff:

  • 2 oz organic lemon zest @ 5 minutes


  • 1 packet of Nottingham

Brew day

August 3, 2009: Mashed 1 hour @ 150F / 66C. I hit 160F / 71C, and added 1 quart of tap water to bring it down; 10 minutes later it was fine. I had a new-to-me car windshield reflective shield wrapped around my plastic mash tun to keep the temperature steady. It worked a treat: an hour later it was still at 66C.

I'm not sure of the liquor:grist ratio (or even the final yield); I was using new kettle, and I hadn't thought to mark levels on it. It should have been about 1.75 quarts/lb...a great deal thinner than I usually do, but I was kind of winging it.

I'm using a curtain these days as a weird sort of brew-in-a-bag setup...only I'm still sparging, as I keep forgetting to add more grain to make up for the loss of efficiency.

Sparge was 3 gallons @ 168F / 76C.

Boil: as I mentioned, this was the first time boiling with a new stainless steel half keggle that my father-in-law made for me. It seemed to take a much longer time to come to boil than the setup I used last time: copper-bottomed stainless steel pot, maybe 5.5 gallons and smaller in diameter than the keggle.

The lemon smelled absolutely wonderful when I added it. God, I love the smell of lemon.

Cooldown: the copper wort chiller worked a treat, as it always does. I didn't get the temperature down as far as I might have liked; I always lose patience around 90F / 32C. But that's nothing new.

Lemon Blonde chilling

Today I saved the water for the first time, and holy crap: 25 gallons / 95 litres! That's an enormous amount of water. I really need to figure out another way to do this -- either no-chill, or maybe some kind of recirculating system. Maybe even hand-powered for full-on green points.

I put it into a glass carboy -- another first for today -- and it held the temperature a lot longer than I thought it would. I'll be interested to see if it affects the flavour -- or, rather, if I'll be able to see if it affects the flavour.

My father-in-law put in a tap and a nice stainless steel screen to keep hops out. The tap is a garden hose tap, so I wasn't able to put any tubing on it. Draining the keggle was a bit awkward, as I couldn't get the mouth of the carboy directly underneath the keggle -- the turkey fryer stand was in the way. I settled for putting the stand up on the porch (maybe 10cm off the ground), scooching the carboy up as close as I could, and using a funnel to get it all in.

I didn't aerate; I figured that the splashing as it went in would do the trick, and I was afraid of breaking the carboy if I rocked it back and forth on the concrete.

Lemon Blonde decanting Lemon Blonde decanting

Yeast pitching was done by my capable assistant. We yelled, "Go, yeast, go!" and stuck the airlock on. Temperature was still 30C (or even higher), and I stuck the carboy in our parking garage (pretty steady at 26C these days). Yes, I'm a bad person.


This is the first time I've looked at the fermenting beer from the side (I've always peeked in the top), and wow is there a lot of trub. Based on James Spencer's experiment with BIAB, I'm guessing this is the result of using the curtain and not vorlaufing.

Wondering if I was meant to boil the corn meal/grits, and if that maybe affected efficiency.


August 29, 2009: 2.5 to 3 cm of trub at the bottom. Lovely golden colour. FG was 1.008, so about 5% ABV. Primed with 110 g dextrose. Lemony flavour in the hydro sample, but not much aroma that I could detect. Very thin body. About 14.5 litres yield.


My usual impatient taste-at-one-week was disappointing, more than usual. I'm not sure if it was because it's such a light-flavoured beer, but this tasted much more green than other week-old beers of mine. I couldn't detect any lemon, though my wife could; my sense of smell is not the best, so that might be it. Very pale, very clear and the head disappeared quickly.

At three weeks, this is starting to come in to its own. The lemon flavour has come out more, but its very zest-heavy -- which is to be expected, of course, but I think some additional lemon flavour, like from a slice of lemon, would be nice. (No, I'm not trying to recreate Bud Lime...)

October 2009: This is really coming into its own now. The lemon flavour and aroma have come out (for me; my wife, who has a much better sense of smell, never had any difficulty picking it out) and it now tastes like something, rather than just being a thin, clear beer.

I did get a few bottles with a noticeable yeasty flavour; I'm assuming this is because of some bad sanitizing.

Overall, not bad, but the timing was wrong: this really should have been done in March to be ready in June. Perhaps next year.