Clarity in brewing

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by tngolfer, Feb 24, 2012.

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  1. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (75) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    Hi everyone. First time poster, 2nd time batcher so I apologize if these are basic questions. I received a brewing kit for Christmas which came with a bottling bucket which I'm using for my primary fermenter and a 6 gallon carboy which I'm using as a secondary fermenter to try and help with the cloudiness at the recommendation of my brew kit. I understand cloudiness is cosmetic but towards the end of drinking my first batch I had a huge clump of sediment in my glass which was kind of a turn off. I'm proud of brewing my own beer and have been sharing it with friends. In an effort to reduce the sediment in their glasses I have started researching ways to reduce cloudiness.

    I started with a Brewmaster's Best IPA. It was very good but very cloudy which I understand is typical of home brewing. My second batch was a Brewmaster's Best Scottish Ale. Both batches spent 1 week in the primary fermenter and 1 week in the secondary fermenter prior to bottling. I read a lot of articles and posts on the internet after my first batch regarding cloudiness and decided to go with the gelatin-in-the-fermenter method. I couldn't find anything that said how much gelatin to use. The box I bought at the grocery store had 4 - 1/4 oz. packets. I mixed 1 of the packets into 2 cups of pre-boiled hot water and added that to my secondary fermenter 3 days before bottling. It doesn't appear to have had much effect.

    So here are my questions:
    1. Did I use enough gelatin?
    2. Should I have added it sooner to allow more time for sediment to fall out?
    3. Does this affect the amount of yeast in the beer to carbonate the bottles?
    4. Whirlfloc in the wort appears to be a popular method. Anyone tried this?

  2. harrymel

    harrymel Initiate (0) Dec 15, 2010 Washington

    Wrong forum dude, hit the Novice Home Brewer forum with this one.

    That being said, as you mentioned, cloudiness is aesthetic and shouldn't really impact the flavor of the beer. This can best be reduced using a wort chiller. But your attempts with gelatin I can't chime in on, I've always used Irish Moss for clarity assistance. I can say that 1 week in primary and 1 week in secondary may not be long enough. The yeast is what often times will "clean" up the beer, and there is a higher number of cells in the primary than the secondary. It's not uncommon to let a beer sit in primary for a good month before moving to secondary, if at all.

    On yeast, usually there is enough yeast in suspension (even when been is excellent clarity) to carbonate the beer.
  3. matthendry

    matthendry Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Australia

    Best way to get rid of sediment is after the seconary in homebrew is to keg your beer and then after you clear the sediment from around the dip tube (the first 2-3 pints should do this) transfer to another keg or use a Blichmann beer gun to fill the carbonated beer into bottles .You can also filter your beer if you have 2 kegs .
  4. pheurton

    pheurton Initiate (0) Oct 11, 2001 Pennsylvania

    Tips for clearer beer:

    1. Forget about the secondary...its unnecessary. Leave it in the primary for 3-4 weeks, and move to the coldest spot in your house towards the end to help drop the yeast.

    2. Use whirfloc in the boil, and chill as fast as you can. This helps to form a good cold break. Let the break material settle, and siphon the clear wort into your fermentor leaving the break/trub behind.

    3. Use an English ale strain, which flocculate better than almost anything else.

    Follow these steps, and you'll have beer that is near commercial quality in clarity, without the use of gelatin or other finings.

  5. drgarage

    drgarage Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2008 California

    Whirlfloc, English ale yeast and a big temperature drop are the key. I don't think staying on primary forever is necessarily a good thing. If you've got a proper set-up or aren't doing a style that mandates a longer primary, everything should basically settle out within a week and you can carefully transfer to secondary, leaving everything that leads to cloudiness and sediment in the previous vessel.
  6. wspscott

    wspscott Savant (979) May 25, 2006 Kentucky

    You should not end up with a huge amount of sediment in your glass. How did you pour the beer? Did you leave a little beer (and all the yeast) in the bottom of the bottle? Or just dump the whole bottle in your glass. Also, I find that my beer will get clearer over time as more "stuff" drops out of solution. How long was the beer in the bottle before you drank it? How long in the fridge?
  7. MontpelierArtie

    MontpelierArtie Initiate (21) Jun 23, 2010 Vermont

    Whirlfloc/irish moss will definitely help with your clarity. Also, I would also recommend longer time in primary--generally at least 2-3 weeks, and would not worry about going longer. No need to secondary most beers if the reason is for clarity. Also, if you do rack into a secondary I would not continue using a 6 gallon carboy. You are leaving too much head space in the vessel and likely oxidizing your beer.
  8. clearbrew

    clearbrew Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2009 Louisiana

    I'm a strong believer in secondary (at least for a few days). I have never used anything but a secondary to clarify my beers and I've never been unhappy. When you siphon from your primary (assuming you try to get as much out as possible) you will usually suck up some dead yeast. Also, dead yeast often holds some c02, after fermentation is complete, and releases it slowly. This will not allow the beer to completely clarify as the bubbles stir the yeast up. I secondary, for at least a week, then bottle or keg.
    Asking the obvious: Do you realize that when you bottle condition you will have some dead yeast in the bottom due to carbonation? I only ask because you said you were a new brewer.
  9. Jtc2811

    Jtc2811 Aspirant (232) Dec 13, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Only 1 week in the primary? Pretty risky. Secondary is unnecessary, but it does help the clarity a bit. Other advice: get a goot hot break and a really quick, clean cold break, hit the Irish Moss, and cold crash before bottling. Be careful with the last one, as crashing and using gelatin in the secondary can clear the beer to the point where there is too little yeast left to carbonate, if you aren't kegging.

    Also, use Wyeast 1968 if you are making an Anglo beer - yeast flocc's hard and leaves a delightful, dense "hockey puck." You may actually even have to rouse the yeast once before transferring, the 1968 flocc's so fast
  10. drgarage

    drgarage Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2008 California

    Depends on the beer you're making how long you should leave it in primary. For the partial mash technique that I was taught, it's rare for something to stay more than 10 days in primary, usually less. I'm sure it's different for extract and all-grain, so your mileage may vary. It also tends to call on really fast-acting yeast, so it works well. I also hit with a little corn sugar at bottling to carb in bottle, which I'm sure further helps out with clarity, too.
  11. nozferatu46

    nozferatu46 Initiate (142) Mar 24, 2008 Indiana

    Here's my method, and most of my beers are pretty clear (an Imperial IPA I just did, that had ~5oz of dry hop wasn't... but huge dry hops make beers cloudier.)

    I leave my beer in my primary fermentor for at least two weeks. I then use about 1/4 tsp of gelatin in water, boiled briefly (actually says it on the bottle for use as a clarifier), I then rack the beer from my primary into secondary (either a better bottle or glass carboy, I use both) and let it clear up for a few days. If its cold out, I put it in the garage to help everything crash out. (Note: Use a carboy that fits the size of the batch. If you have 5 gallons, use a 5 gallon carboy. That extra space in secondary will oxidize your beer.)

    After that, bottle, My beers come out pretty clear using that technique.
  12. goodonezach

    goodonezach Initiate (0) Mar 24, 2011 New York

    cold crashing the beer helps a lot. if you let it sit for like an hour or so after you brew it but before you pitch the yeast, you'll see a lot of the trub sink to the bottom. siphon it into the fermenting bucket and make sure you dont pick up any of the crap at the bottom. sometimes it helps to brew an extra half gallon so that when you lose beer along the way you end up with a decent amount left at the end.
  13. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    A couple thoughts:

    That was waaaay more gelatin than you needed. When I use it, I do 1/2 teaspoon in a cup of water, stir gently into the carboy and let it sit for a week. Just guessing on this, but if you put that much in your beer and then bottled immediately, you may wind up with clearer beer but a heck of a lot of sediment in your bottles--not a problem if you're careful with your pours.

    Also, letting the beer sit for longer will help it to clear. For most ales, I usually let it sit for 1-2 weeks in primary, then two weeks in secondary. (And, as many will point out, it's not really necessary to rack for most beers, but I do.) It's good to let the temp drop to at least 60F or so during that last week to help the yeast settle out.

    All that said, I don't worry much about clarity except when brewing lagers. IPAs are almost always going to be a little cloudy, as dryhopping will do that.
  14. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (267) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    1. WAY too much gelatin. Agree with MLuckly...1/2 tsp / 5G
    2. The wort should have been left in the primary for 2-3 weeks...with gelatin added to the 2ndary...if you're set on using a 2ndary.
    3. It's possible; however...your experience indicates there's no significant effect on carbonation when overdosing with gelatin.
    4. Whirlfoc...Irish Moss...and other boil additon clarifiers are generally not recommended with all extract recipes.

    No worries.
    Maybe not 'best ever' beer...but it's still beer.
    Better brew days dead ahead.
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