Some brewers make a big deal about it, others don’t, but the clarity of my beer as of late has been a big deal. I think it is just a natural progression in brewing education, which makes sense because you need to conquer the fundamentals of brewing before you worry about what your beer looks like. Being sanitary is of course the first thing that you need to master in your brew house. Pitching yeast at the correct rate andcontrolling your fermentation temperature are both extremely important. Also, having a firm grasp on cellering your beer and keeping the air out makes a big difference in the quality and longevity of your beer. So, if you have not “perfected” the previously mentioned steps, clarity should be a non factor.
Relatively speaking, concern over clarity only became relevant when we stopped drinking out of wooden, stone, and porcelain mugs. If you are still drinking out of a vessel that is wooden, stone, or porcelain, you are probably not concerned with clarity since its pretty evident that you are have other worries, like if Frodo will make it to Mordor and destroy the Ring for the sake of Middle Earth. Ok, jokes aside, here are my tips for clarifying beer.
Time: The longer you let your beer sit around in a glass carboy, the better it will look. The yeast and haze causing proteins come out of suspension.
Cold conditioning: This has the same effect as time, however, it works faster. Works on the same principles as the time method, it just expedites the process.
Irish Moss: Irish moss works by making the smaller molecules aggregate into larger particles so that they settle out of solution. It does this by changing the ionic charge of the proteins. They provide a surface which carries an ionic charge opposite that of the charge of the waste material. This should be used in most beer. Why? Irish moss helps settle out a lot of waste material that is separated out during the boil as well. So it may not actual make your beer clear in all circumstances, it will improve the quality.
Gelatin Finings: Used properly, this will help settle out the waste created during fermentation. For me personally, gelatin has been the most effective agent outside of just letting it clear naturally. When using gelatin, first you must let it bloom in cold water for an hour, then add boiling water after that hour. Pour into your secondary and wait a couple days.
Clarity Ferm:Clarity Ferm(White Labs) is a newer product that does two things: 1. Help reduce chill haze. 2. Drop the gluten out of your beer below 10ppm. I do not have firm grasp on how this actually works, even after talking with Chris White (owner of White Labs). I know that it’s an enzyme White Labs developed. I’ve used it in a handful of beers. I haven’t seen the clarity I was hoping for, however, it does drop the gluten without any impact on flavor.
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Article by Rob Qualls, O’Connor’s Home Brew Expert