Clarification Agents 101: Clearing Up the Mystery

Unfiltered beer is cloudy with organic compounds floating around in it. Many styles of beer actually depend on these compounds for their character and flavor (such as Hefeweizen). However, not all beer needs to be cloudy. If you find yourself in need of some clarification, there are options open to you. Clarification agents can be used to help remove oils, resins, yeast and more. You will have to know which agents are right for your needs though. Not all are the same and it’s important to your beer’s quality that you make the right choice.

Gelatin

Gelatin is one of the more common clarification agents out there. It’s clear, odorless and tasteless. That means you don’t have to worry about it giving your brew any off tastes or colors if you choose to use it. Using gelatin is best done when your beer is cool. It will also take about a week to do its job.

Irish Moss (Carragheen)

Irish moss isn’t really moss – it’s seaweed. It’s the same stuff used in ice cream. Unlike gelatin, it is colored so you’ll need to be careful with it. Using Irish moss requires that you add it to your boil and leave it in during the fermentation process.

Silica Gel

One of the better options out there, silica gel is odorless and colorless. It also forms sediment at the bottom of your container. This substance is made of granules that absorb unwanted elements in your brew. When each granule has absorbed as much as it can, it sinks to the bottom and makes siphoning off the clarified beer a simpler process.

Super KLEER KC Finings

This clarification agent has an excellent reputation in the industry for doing a first-rate job. However, it is made with ingredients derived from shellfish so there may be some worries about allergens with this product.

Do You Really Need Clarification Agents?

As mentioned, clarification agents help settle organic compounds and proteins out of your brew. However, having crystal clear beer might not really be a necessity. Just because your beer is transparent doesn’t mean that it will taste good. It’s really better to focus on making a high-quality beer first and then worrying about whether or not to clarify the brew. Clarification can help with the appearance of your beer though. This is an important consideration if you are worried about aesthetics but it still has little bearing on the actual quality of the beer in question.

Posted on July 1, 2009 and filed under Brewing.