Grapefruit Juice Pale Ale

Grapefruit juice adds some tasty citrus character

One thing that attracts me to “West Coast” pale ales and IPAs is the citrus character of their hops. I remember brewing my first pale ale with Amarillo back in the day, and I was amazed by the amount of grapefruit flavor and aroma coming out of my pint glass. In order to chase that fruit character, I decided to play with some juice.

As Chris noted in an earlier story on brewing fruit beers, you can use peel, flesh, juice or extract from fruit to achieve a fruity flavor. Back in 2014, I brewed a pineapple saison using a quart of frozen pineapple juice added at the end of the boil. This was inspired by an interview with homebrewers Brook Baber and David Bauter on Basic Brewing Radio about their method of brewing graf, a fictional beverage envisioned by Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series. Brook and David froze fruit juice in plastic bags and added it to the end of the boil to help jump start the chilling process. The technique worked well for my saison, so I decided to adopt it for my grapefruit pale ale.

It must be said that grapefruit interferes with certain medications. So, if you are taking medicine on a regular basis, check with your doctor to see if it’s okay to drink grapefruit beverages.

Frozen juice helps speed chilling

The grain bill for the recipe is simple: 10 lbs (4.5 kg) American two-row and 8 oz (226 g) 60L crystal. For bittering, I used 1 oz (28 g) UK Challenger for 60 minutes. Five minutes before flameout, I added an ounce (28 g) Amarillo and an ounce (28 g) Mosaic pellets. I repeated those two hop additions at flameout. Also at flameout, I added a quart (about a liter) of organic, pasteurized grapefruit juice with no preservatives that I had frozen in a freezer bag. Fermentation was with a packet of Safale US 05.

I collected a bit more wort than expected from my electric Brew in a Bag system, so six gallons (22.7 liters) went into the fermenter at 1.047. The beer finished at 1.008, giving me an ABV of 5.2%.

I’m really happy with the grapefruit flavor of this beer. It is juicy, but not to the point of being too sweet. Initially, I thought the bitterness of the hops could have been more up front. The Challenger hops I used had an alpha acid level of 6.8%. However, after bottle conditioning brought up the carbonation level, the bite increased a bit. If I were to brew it again, I’d probably use more of the Challenger or just a higher alpha hop for bittering.

I have since tasted an IPA from homebrewer Jamie Conway that featured dried grapefruit peel that had been soaked in vodka before being added in the secondary with dry hops. That beer brought more grapefruit aroma to the party. I think a combination of juice at the end of the boil and grapefruit zest in the fermenter after fermentation might be the ticket to improve the beer.

The more I drink of this beer, the more I like it. It’s on my list of beers to brew again and tweak.

Grapefruit Juice Pale Ale
5 gal. (19 L) batch

10 lbs (4.5 kg) American two-row
8 oz (226 g) 60L Crystal

Mash for 60 minutes at 150˚F (65˚C)

1 oz (28 g) UK Challenger – 60 min.
1 oz (28 g) Amarillo – 5 min.
1 oz (28g ) Mosaic – 5 min.
1 oz (28 g) Amarillo – Flameout
1 oz (28g ) Mosaic – Flameout

1 qt (1 L) Frozen grapefruit juice – Flameout

Safale US 05

OG: 1.056  FG: 1.010  ABV: 6.1%


  1. James Collin says

    Sounds delicious. Having listened to your BBR episode on this do you have any details on Jamie’s recipe? You suggested you had preferred his hopping. Perhaps a mash up between the two including juice / peel and his hops would turn out well. Regards, James.

  2. Jordan Perkins says

    I saw that you threw that two hop combo in again at flameout. How long do you usually leave them in there for until you transfer to your primary?

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