Brewing wine or beer at home requires some basic knowledge about the different stabilizers that are used. Although the stabilizers for wine and beer differ, determining when to use the stabilizing agent has certain similarities.
Increasing the Shelf-Life
The most common use of a stabilizer for beer or wine is related to the shelf life of the final product. A stabilizing agent is added after brewing the beer or wine to keep the final product good for a longer period of time.
In the case of beer, stabilizing agents are used to slow the development of haziness. When haziness develops, beer is no longer good. A stabilizing agent for beer can work in one of two ways: it will either degrade the proteins that cause haziness or it will bond to the proteins so that the beer lasts longer in storage.
When it comes to wine, stabilizing agents are added to increase the shelf life and prevent re-fermentation from occurring. When a stabilizer is added to wine, it will last longer even if it is not possible to store it in a cellar or fridge.
Adding for Flavor Maintenance
Although the primary purpose of a stabilizer for both wine and beer is increasing the shelf life of the brew, it can also help maintain flavor in particular situations.
A stabilizer is always added to sweet wines because it is possible for re-fermentation to occur. The stabilizer maintains the flavor of the wine by preventing it from starting to ferment a second time. Although it is appropriate to prevent re-fermentation in sweet wines, it is not necessary to add the stabilizer to a dry wine. Dry wines do not have room for more fermentation.
Stabilizers do not have much impact on the flavor of beers except as it relates to shelf life. If a beer does not have excellent taste before adding a stabilizer, it will not improve when the stabilizer is added.
A stabilizing agent is not useful when the wine or beer has a poor flavor. When brews are consistently coming out with a poor flavor, it is best to look at the cleanliness and sanitation of the equipment or the filtration system. Poor taste is more often the result of equipment problems or minerals in the water than the wine or beer going bad in a short period of time.
The decision to add a stabilizer to wine or beer is a personal choice. Stabilizers can help increase the shelf life and maintain a good flavor, but it does not help if the original flavor was not good. Deciding when to add stabilizers will depend on personal goals and the type of brew.