The Quest for Clear Beer

In this hazy beer market my quest for clear beer has never waned, I have always valued a clear pint (dark and wheat beer aside). Maybe I am a stubborn brewer, but since my first beer (Golden Ale Extract), I have strived for clear beer perfection.

In my earlier years of homebrewing and using water bath cooling usually brought chill haze, as I was not able to cool in a timely manner. However once I built my first counterflow chiller this started to change. However, there are many factors that can contribute to hazy beers. Adjuncts, water chemistry, Yeast Selection and brewing methods all impact the crystal clarity of your final product. I want to touch on each of these items quickly because this a “Short Pour” not a poorly written soapbox rant… I guess it’s both.

  • Yeast Selection – Look to see how flocculant the yeast is, more flocculant the more likely it will clump together and settle at the bottom.
  • Adjuncts – Using adjuncts with high protein will contribute to the hazy qualities of beer. Limiting their use will help keep your beer clear. Think of the anti-NEIPA, no heavy amounts of oats or wheat.
  • Finings – These come in 2 flavors and both are required for properly clearing beers, kettle finings and fermenter finings.
    • The kettle finings are Whirlfloc or Irish moss both are forms of carignane which bind to protein and cause it to settle at the bottom. Either one of these are added at the last 5-10mins of the boil. You want to make sure not to add too early into the boil as the enzymes will denature.
    • The other finings would be used in the fermenter, this would include Clarity Ferm by Whitelabs, unflavored Gelatin, biofine, and the less common isinglass. Any of these options work in a similar way. After fermentation add these chemicals which bring positively charged particles to the part, these positively charged particles bind with negatively charged particles and settle at the bottom.

Fining agents also work really well with the addition of cold crashing. If you are not in a rush and can spare the fridge space, pop the fermenter in the fridge for a few days to really help settle out the remaining particulates.

Pre-keg Fining

Kettle fined only at this point, and 2 weeks in the fermenter. This was heading into the cold crash,

Cold crashing

The beer has finished fermenting and went into cold storage to drop the yeast out of suspension.

2 Weeks after fining

The beer has been cold crashed and fined with gelatin in the keg. Placed in a fridge and finally tapped.

This has run a little longer than expected, if you have more questions come down and talk to us!