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Old 08-10-2009, 10:56 PM   #1
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Default What Is The Best Fining Agent?

I'd like to know what is the best fining agent.

I don't use them as I make mostly American ales, AIPA's, brown ales and stouts, and don't do comps.

But I may moving into making a lot more lagers, and of isinglass, irish moss, Polyclar (plastic dust), and gelatin, which is the BEST?

Is there a cost vs. performance situation?

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:03 PM   #2
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In the boil or post fermentation?

I like Whirlfloc in the boil. Seems to work a lot better than Irish Moss. I use 1/2 tablet in a 5 gallon batch.

If my beer isn't clear once its cooled down in the kegerator, I use gelatin in the keg.

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:05 PM   #3
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I've only ever needed whirlfloc. Cold crashing and whirlfloc have made it so that I have never used finings in any of my beers. My wines, however, have been a whole different story.

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:08 PM   #4
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Cold crashing and whirlfloc have made it so that I have never used finings in any of my beers.
True. There is nothing like a few weeks in cold storage to clear a beer. I've had a Hefeweizen (no whirlfloc) clear in the keg. I didn't even think that was possible.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:23 PM   #5
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Its not cost effective to use in every batch but sparkolloid is the best ive found. it will clear anything in beer/wine/mead and it doesnt seem to impact flavor. It also works very quickly, its recommended to wait a couple of weeks but most of its work is done in a few days.

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:37 PM   #6
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If your doing lagers, they should clear nicely with just whirlfloc.

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Old 08-11-2009, 12:07 AM   #7
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What you've asked is essentially, "Which is best? Hammer, screwdriver, socket wrench, or welder?"

Each of the items you listed are specific tools best suited to much more specific circumstances than you've...er...specified. I've used each, and will continue to use each in the situation best suited to the tool. The trick is to learn the appropriate circumstances for each.

I prefer Isinglass for fining English-style cask ales. I prefer gelatin for fining beers that won't clear by patience and cold. Isinglass will work multiple times if the beer is roused; gelatin won't. Polyclar has an opposite ionic charge than Isinglass, which makes it useful if used in conjunction with another fining agent. Hell, if you're doing fruit beers, you forgot what many consider a fining agent: pectic enzyme. The list goes on.

Yes, there can be a cost/performance/PITA tradeoff. Isinglass can come in a variety of ways, for example; the least expensive requires a level of skill and process involvement that can quickly become a PITA, but the most expensive is the easiest to use.

Whirlfloc is essentially highly-processed Irish Moss. It's technically a kettle coagulant, not a fining agent, because fining agents are used post-fermentation. I agree that Irish Moss added to the end of a vigorous boil will improve clarity. Of course, this assumes you're already aggressively chilling your bitter wort; all the Whirlfloc in the world won't help a beer with piss-poor cold break due to poor chilling.

So the short, glib answer is this: No one ingredient is "the best". They've all got different uses. Your job is to learn what those uses are.

Regards,

Bob

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Old 08-11-2009, 01:45 AM   #8
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A little help...

Yeast finings = gelatin and isinglass (gelatin must be used below 50°F and can also remove tannins, isinglass is superior for yeast and can be used up to 60°F... it also precipitates lipids, improving head retention)

Chill haze fining = Polyclar

Protein (Kettle) Finings = Irish Moss and Whirlfloc

There are many other types of finings and wort/beer clarification methods, but those are the most common for homebrewers.

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Old 08-11-2009, 02:34 AM   #9
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A little help...

Yeast finings = gelatin and isinglass (gelatin must be used below 50°F and can also remove tannins, isinglass is superior for yeast and can be used up to 60°F... it also precipitates lipids, improving head retention)

Chill haze fining = Polyclar

Protein (Kettle) Finings = Irish Moss and Whirlfloc

There are many other types of finings and wort/beer clarification methods, but those are the most common for homebrewers.
And in my experience, for lagers you don't need yeast finings or chill haze finings,as those things are 'cleared up' though lagering. Cold makes a world of difference in light colored beers- because it causes the excess suspended yeast to drop out, and the chill haze goes away after about three-four weeks of lagering.

I make mostly APAs and IPAs and prefer a clear beer. I've never had a cloudy lager. This is assuming of course a good hot break, and a good cold break after the boil. Time and cold seems to be the main helpers. That said, if I had a pesky cloudy beer, I'd start with the "smaller" finings first. What I mean by that is to start with simple (like gelatin) and work my way up to more complex (KC SuperKleer). I think that unless you were planning on filtering, the simple gelatin finings would be adequate.
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:52 AM   #10
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I usually don't fine my beers if I'm using a well flocculating yeast strain. Well, usually not at all... Unless I would enter it in a competition or brag about it somewhere. But what I can say is that I really don't like irish moss. I find that it tends to make your beer taste like sea water, even in small doses... ;p I guess I'm a bit more sensitive than many others, cause at the latest homebrew competition I visited, about 1/3 of the beers tasted like irish moss.

Now, if I use anything at all, I use a product similar to whirfloc that is extracted from irish moss, but without the aroma.

I haven't tried using gelatin, but some people I've talked to say that it might strip you're beer for some aroma, at least if used extensively.

And by the way, if you have picky vegan friends, they probably won't like it if you served them beer fined with isinglass (cod) or gelatin (pork).

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