A well made beer does not have to be crystal clear to taste its best, but if you want to produce a brilliantly clear beer instead of a persistently hazy beer knowing the right strategies can save a lot of frustration in trying to achieve that result. Historically, visually clear beer was a sign of quality to consumers. In more recent times, with the rise of homebrewing in the last 15 years and the more recent explosion in popularity of New England IPAs, the consumer perception of perfectly clear beer as a requirement for a beer to taste “good” has faded. Some homebrewers even embrace a slight haze as a sign of a beer being made by hand and not something mass produced.
To achieve clear beer without filtration our primary goal is sedimentation of yeast, proteins, and polyphenols.
To achieve clear beer without filtration our primary goal is sedimentation of yeast, proteins, and polyphenols (tannins from grain and hops). Most yeast strains flocculate well enough that given sufficient time of cold conditioning they will fall to the bottom of the primary fermenter eventually. However, a beer free of yeast is not always clear. Proteins and polyphenols can be much more stubborn. Gelatin uses an electrostatic strategy to bind with the proteins, tannins, and remaining yeast using electrically attractive opposite charges resulting in a stable particle with a neutral charge which is large enough to fall to the bottom of the vessel rapidly.
Let’s take you through the steps for using Gelatin:
- The most common use rate for gelatin is 1g of gelatin for each gallon of beer.
- Dissolve the gelatin in 2oz of water per gram of gelatin. Using this rate it takes 5 grams of gelatin dissolved in 10 ounces of water to dose a 5 gallon batch of homebrew.
- To dissolve and rehydrate the gelatin powder sprinkle it onto the cool water and give it a gentle initial mix then allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes depending on how patient you are.
- After allowing it to “bloom”, stir the mixture together until you don’t see any more solids.
- Heat the solution on the stove top or in the microwave until it is at least 160F. If using a microwave heat slowly in bursts and check temperature.
- Pour the mixture into the already cold fermenter (<50F minimum, <35F even better) and agitate if possible to disperse the mixture a little better in the beer.
- Let the fermenter rest cold for 2-3 days or longer then rack to bottles or a keg.
You should have brilliantly clear beer in record time!
Owner and Brew Master at Copper Kettle Brewing Company