A wise man once said that, beauty is in the glass of the beer holder. Cliché aside, wouldn’t your beer be even more beautiful if it was crystal clear? Clearing beer is not all that difficult. In fact, clearing beer is a matter of some simple steps.
While it is true that most haze-causing compounds have little effect on the flavor of our beers, the psychological effect of seeing a pristine, clear beer helps make for a more-enjoyable beer drinking experience. Additionally, clear beer tends to aid in product stability, giving your beer better shelf-life. With a little planning and patience, it is easy to get clear beer. With that said, here are some easy tips on clearing beer.
- Kettle Finings: Whirlfloc or Irish Moss
Whirlfloc is a refined version Irish Moss, a carrageen seaweed. These products help protein coagulate in your kettle during the boil and eventually settle out of your beer. Adding a tablet of Whirlfloc or a tablespoon of Irish Moss 15 minutes before the end of boil can greatly reduce haze-causing proteins in your final beer. Using any of these is a great start to clarifying your beer.
- Proper Calcium Levels
Calcium aids in yeast health and their eventual flocculation of the yeast out of your beer. If you find your beers having significant yeast haze, it is worth checking your water report to ensure you have over 100 ppm of calcium in your brewing water. If you’re water is calcium deficient, adding small amounts of calcium chloride, calcium carbonate, or gypsum to your beer can help the yeast flocculate out once fermentation is complete.
- Cold-Side Finings
If you’re still having trouble with clearing your beer, adding fining products like gelatin or Polyclar to your beer while in secondary can aid in clarification. Different finings work on different types of haze, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow their directions.
- Cold Crash & Careful Racking
After putting your beer in secondary and before bottling, chilling the fermenter to near freezing temperatures will help the yeast and other particulate settle out. This allows you to carefully rack clear, bright beer off any trub cake and into your bottles or kegs.
- Cold Storage
Patience can go a long way when clearing beer. Once you beer is bottled and carbonated, storing it cold for a week or two will help chill-haze proteins form and settle out of solution, leaving you with bright beer. This is traditionally done with lager beers, but most ales can also benefit from cold storage.
Creating bright, clear beer is not rocket science. With solid brewing procedures and a few select ingredients such as clearing and fining agents, clearing beer is a very easy thing to accomplish.
Nick Ladd is a homebrewer, beer enthusiast, and BJCP certified beer judge. He has won numerous beer competitions, has collaborated on multiple commercial beer projects, and writes frequently at his blog, ThePourReport.com.