Clear beer can be a thing of beauty. For some styles, it may be a necessity. The term “clear” or “clarity” is used as a defining appearance characteristic in over 50 sub-styles of beer in the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines. Somewhat frustratingly, a crystal clear American Lager will only garner you 3 points on your total score – and that’s assuming all the other appearance characteristics meet the judges marks.
Whatever the reason you’re looking to get the clearest beer possible, we as home brewers have a few options in the way of Fining Agents to help us out at virtually every step of the brewing process.
Set it (down) and Forget it Fining Agents
As the Rolling Stones say “Time is on my side”. Time is one of the easiest and most effective ways to clear your beer. I’ve pulled the haziest and cloudiest of Witbiers and Hefes, lost for years, from the back of my beer fridge and started pouring crystal clear beer from the bottles. And while that’s completely against style expectations for those beers, this is an example of time can clear the foggiest of beers.
But let’s get real – who wants to wait that long?
Boil side Fining Agents
Whirlfloc Tablets and Irish Moss
Most home brewers are probably familiar with Whirlfloc and Irish Moss as “Kettle Finings”, or finings added during the boil process.
Both bind with proteins in the wort and form large clumps as the wort is chilled that fall to the bottom of the boil kettle before transfiguring the wort to a fermenter, or within the fermenter collecting among the trub.
These aren’t used together, it’s a choice of one of the other. In most of my experience, home brewers have gravitated more to Whirlfloc tablets due to their pre-measured amounts and ease of use (1/2 a tablet per 5 gallon batch).
Fermentation side Fining Agents
When you hear the name “White Labs” in home brewing circles, chances are the subject of discussion is one of their many strains of brewers yeast. But White Labs has a few other incredibly effective and useful products available to the home brewing community. One of those, is “Clarity-Ferm”.
Clarity-Ferm is a highly specific enzyme that prevents chill haze in beer. It’s also been found to reduce gluten in beer made with barley.
The recommended time to add Clarity-Ferm is at the beginning of fermentation, or better yet, along with your yeast pitch.
Post Fermentation Fining Agents
By far the widest range of Fining Agents options come at the post fermentation stage. Here are a couple of the more popular options.
Adding dissolved gelatin to a finished keg of beer is a tried and proven method to help get a clear beer, though preparing it can be a little cumbersome:
-For 5 gallons, start with a 3/4 cup of water in a microwave safe measuring cup.
-Heat the water slightly and add 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin
-Stir the gelatin and water with a sanitized thermometer.
-Heat the water in a microwave in 5 second bursts until the mixture reaches 150-155 degrees F.
-When that target temperature is reached, add the solution directly to the keg.
-In 24-48, draw off the first pint of two and murky, cloudy beer and the watch the next pours clear up significantly.
If you’re hesitant to put 150 degree liquid in your cold beer, you can cool the mixture down. But don’t let it sit too long, especially in a refrigerator – the gelatin will begin to solidify you’ll be left with a cup of soggy, tasteless gelatin.
While this method can work wonders, if you’re looking for a more direct addition to your beer to help clear it up, you’re in luck.
Biofine Clear is a purified colloidal solution of silicic acid in water that has been specifically formulated for the rapid sedimentation of yeast and other haze forming particles in beer, and it’s vegan friendly.
Dosage rate on it’s instructions ranges for, 1/4 Tbsp to 2 Tbsp per 5 gallons of beer. 1 Tbsp is often a good place to start for the first dose. And that it is, Biofine Clear directly into the keg – no mixing, no heating, no waiting. Though he might want to take a minute to sanitize your measuring spoon, just in case.
Unless there are sizable chucks of any kind of matter floating in your beer, clarity has little to usually no affect on the final taste of your beer. But sometimes you want it to looks as good as it can to really show off your hard work. Other times you may need it to be the clearest it can be for those last few points on your scoresheet. Whatever the reason, these are few things you can do help clear your beer. I hope you’ve found this helpful, and happy brewing!