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.
- To achieve clear beer without filtration our primary goal is sedimentation of yeast, proteins, and polyphenols.
- Gelatin can be used to bind proteins, tannins and remaining yeast in a stable particle with a neutral charge which is large enough to fall to the bottom of the vessel rapidly.
- See above for the eight simple steps on how to use gelatin in your fermentation process.
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.
- A good supplier of gelatin is LD Carlson which can be seen HERE.
- 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.
What temperature should the solution be heated to?
The temperature at which the gelatin solution should be heated depends on the specific recipe you are using and the desired outcome. Typically, the solution should be heated to around 160°F to 170°F (71°C to 77°C) for a few minutes in order to fully dissolve the gelatin.
This high temperature is necessary to denature the collagen in the gelatin and make it soluble in water. Once the gelatin has been dissolved, it’s important to cool the solution down to room temperature or slightly below before adding it to the beer.
How long should the beer sit after adding the gelatin?
After adding the gelatin solution to the beer, it’s usually recommended to allow the beer to sit and condition for a few days. The specific amount of time that the beer should sit will depend on the specific recipe you are using, the type of beer, and the outcome you expect.
Typically, the beer that has been treated with gelatin finings should be conditioned for at least 36 to 72 hours at a temperature between 32°F to 50°F (0°C to 10°C).
During this time, the gelatin will work to precipitate out yeast, proteins, and other particles that contribute to haze and cloudiness in the beer.
Is clear beer a sign of quality?
Historically, clear beer is associated with quality, but that is not always the case. A clear beer does not expressly guarantee that it is a quality beer. Clarity is one of the things people look out for in a beer because it shows that the beer has been properly brewed and conditioned.
The best way to determine the quality of a beer is to taste it and make your own judgment.
Is gelatin finings the only finings that can be used?
No, gelatin finings are not the only type of finings that can be used in brewing. Although gelatin is a popular choice due to its effectiveness and ease of use, there are several other fining agents that can be used to clarify beer.
Some other popular options include Irish moss, Bentonite, Polyclar, Biofine Clear, and many others. The choice of a fining agent is based on the specific beer, the desired outcome, and your personal brewing preferences.
You should have brilliantly clear beer in record time!
Owner and Brew Master at Copper Kettle Brewing Company