For me one of the most frustrating things when buying beer is pouring the beer (being careful to not disturb the sediment if there is some) and it comes out of the glass looking like mud, or even worse, buying a beer in the pub and it looks the same.
I know that its currently en vogue to serve hazy beers akin to that shown below, but personally I prefer to know that the brewer has gone to a lot of effort to create a beer that not only tastes and smells good but looks good too.
There are two types of haze, Biological and non-biological and I’m specifically talking about non-biological haze.
Proteins and polyphenols from hops are the two main causes of haze but it can also be caused by:
- Calcium deficient worts
- Wheat derived adjuncts
- Under modified malt
For the most part though beer that looks like mud is due to the protein and polyphenol load in the beer.
Techniques for ensuring the limitation of proteins and polyphenols in wort:
- Use low protein malts
- Use Irish Moss
- Cool your wort quickly
- Cold store your beer
- Keep trub out of the fermenter
We know all these tips, they make common sense and we’re probably doing them or trying to do them anyway.
But what if you want to use a ridiculous amount of hops in your IPA and no matter what you try it still looks like mud? You’re a homebrewer, you don’t have a chiller that can run -10 degree glycol round your conditioning tank, you don’t have a centrifuge and you don’t have a filter…isn’t there some other way to make bright beer?
There are a quite a few finings products that you can use, typical ones are:
- Isinglass – great at dealing with yeast but for the most part yeast in suspension isn’t my problem, my beer is clear until I put it in the fridge and then it turns to mud.
- PVPP – a great product but I find it difficult to deal with because it requires the beer to be chilled at application. If I don’t have that chilling capability how do I use it? Added to this is the need for it to be filtered out of the beer, not an easy thing to do with a homebrew set up.
- Silica based finning agents – these work on protein load well but I’ve been experimenting with it recently and it’s shown less than satisfactory results.
- Gelatine – As a combination of efficacy and ease of use for the homebrewer I like gelatine, it dissolves easily, mixes well and it targets proteins and polyphenols. I’ve recently been using it on all beers I’ve brewed that are dry hopped, even if I’m in a hurry and bottling straight from FV the resulting beers are beautifully bright even at fridge temperatures. This goes for moderate dry hopping to Imperial IPA’s that are dry hopped at 10g/l or more!
So for me the use of the 5 techniques listed above, plus Gelatine, consistently produces bright and clear homebrew beers. If you have any further tips for getting clarity in your homebrew share them in the comments below.