• Ten Steps to Clear Beer

    Having great looking bottles with Beerskins is one thing, but what a letdown if you then serve up a crappy looking glass full of floaties and sediment!

    Even though some cloudiness is perfectly acceptable and may even enhance the flavour profile of some styles, mostly you don't want too much crap floating around in your beer.

    You can always get yourself some fancy kit like an inline filtration system.  But unless you have a loaded uncle this is going to be well beyond the budget of most home brewers.

    Fortunately, there are some easy ways to get nice clear beer without dropping a wad on expensive equipment.

    1 - Go easy on the specialty malts like wheat, oats or dark roasts.  They add body and flavour and are essential to many recipes, but use too much and the higher proteins and tannins can make your beer turn murky.

    2 - Buy yeast strains labelled as high flocculating, so your spent yeast will clump together and drop out instead of remaining suspended in your wort.

    3 - Chuck a Whirlfloc tablet in during the last 10 minute or so of your boil.  Whirflocs are a fining agent made from a type of seaweed (Irish Moss) and will help proteins and tannins coagulate.  Cheap, easy and highly effective. 

    4 - Cool your wort as quickly as possible.  The faster it cools, the more crap drops out of your wort (the cold break).  Investing in a counterflow chiller is a very worthwhile upgrade if you're using an immersion chiller or mucking about with ice buckets and MacGyver setups.

    5 - Set up a whirlpool in your fermenter immediately after (or during) transfer from boiler.  This will help your cold break drop out cleanly.  The easiest method is to simply position your transfer hose at an angle that gets your wort circulating as it comes out.  If you're using a secondary fermenter (you should) or priming bucket (you probably should), then you can repeat this two or even three times for clearer beer.  Just be gentle when transferring at the end of fermentation as you don't want to much aeration. 

    6 - Use a secondary fermenter so that your beer isn't resting on spent yeast during the back end of fermentation.  Not only does this help clear your beer, it can also prevent off-flavours from the lees.  They make Vegemite from leftover yeast crud you know...nothing wrong with it on your toast, but spare your beer.

    7 - Consider adding a pack of finings at the end of fermentation.  There are various types of finings available to remove proteins, tannins or yeast.  Isinglass finings are most commonly used for removing yeast, but if you're using a high flocculating yeast it may be unnecessary and could even result in under-carbonated beer if too much yeast is removed.  Also its made from the swim-bladders of fish, so not one for the vego's.   

    8 - A lot of brewers are careful to keep a nice steady fermentation temperature, but then just stash their brew in any old corner for conditioning.  Repeated temperature changes will likely give you hazy beer, so condition your beer properly in a dark space with steady temperature, cool but not too cool for your chosen yeast.

    9 - Always condition and store your bottles standing up, so any sediment is concentrated and compacted on the bottom.

     10 - Once conditioning is complete, if you have enough space (and perhaps an understanding wife) then lager your beer in the fridge for a good few days or weeks before you crack them.  They will pour much clearer.

    Finally, there's no substitute for a good pour.  Be gentle and don't be too greedy about trying to get every last droplet of beery goodness out of the bottle!

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