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Old 11-12-2011, 02:18 PM   #1
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Default Chill Haze, for realz

I'd like to have a serious conversation about chill haze and how to remove it.

By chill haze, I mean that I have a crystal clear beer at room temp, and a turbid beer at refrigerated temps. All my beers give the same result, and I use standard Weyermann, Rahr, Briess, Simpsons malts and White Labs yeasts.

What I'm already doing: rolling 90 min boil, whirlfloc 5 min before flameout, immersion chilling with agitation, crash cooling after fermentation, fining with gelatin, 1/2 tsp / 5 gal, heated but not boiled to dissolve.

What sort of works: lagering for > 2 weeks. Reduces chill haze to be sure, but beer is still not clear.

What does not work at all: crash cooling followed by 1 um filtration. Many report this works, but I've noticed an adamant minority of posters reporting the same result I got. And, it makes perfect sense: chill haze particles are reported to range from .1 - 1 um. They're too small for this filter size!

What I haven't tried: PVPP or silica gel or bentonite. People report that polyclar will bind to tannins, eliminating chill haze, but is this actually true?



Let's have a real discussion about chill haze, where everyone is on the same page about temperatures and times. Let's not have the typical convo, which goes something like this

  • 5 or 6 posts: Solve the problem in the kettle, you clearly aren't getting a good cold break
  • 3 or 4 posts: Chill and filter, works for me even though I'm just using a 7 um filter, I get "diamond" clear beer
  • 1 lone dissenter: 1 um filtration cannot and does not remove chill haze
  • 3 or 4 more posts: I'm going to just go ahead and pretend that naysayer never posted -- filtration works for me!
  • everyone else: Dude, clear beer is only a light switch away.


Specifically, the "Chill and filter" crowd and the "filtering can't reduce chill haze" crowd need to look deeply into each other's eyes and reconcile their findings. How can both results possibly be true?

Finally, cold conditioners and PVPP users -- do these methods actually give brilliant beer at fridge temps? Please post photos so others can know what you mean by "clear", and also so we can get some nice clear beer porn.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-12-2011, 03:11 PM   #2
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Chill haze is caused by proteins and tannins that are left in the beer. There are a few ways to attack chill haze.

1. Chill the beer down to 30-32F to precipitate all the haze causing proteins and tannins, then filter. This will work. If your beer still isn't crystal clear after this, then there are other forces at work causing haze that need to be investigated separately.

2. Do a protein rest during your mash, between about 115 F and 135F for about 15 minutes. This will break down a lot of the haze causing proteins and they will no longer cause a problem in the finished beer.

3. "Chill Proof" the beer by chilling it down to 30-32F, and leave it undisturbed for many weeks. This will precipitate the haze causing proteins and tannins, and eventually gravity will drop them out of solution. You can rack off the clear beer into your serving vessel.

4. Use finings such as gelatin. They will bind to tannins, protein, and yeast in suspension and help drop them out.

The important thing to remember is that there are other things that cause haze in beer, especially in home-brew. If the things listed above don't work, then it's time to turn focus to other parts of your process, like the vigor of your boil and the speed of your cooling, the yeast strain you're using and how you're dropping it out of the beer at the end of fermentation, your sparging method, etc etc...

Unfortunately everyone's homebrew process is a little different. There is usually no magic-bullet for problems like this, it's typically the result of the entirety of your process, not just one step like filtration or fining. I'd go through your process step by step, evaluate how each step effects the protein and tannin levels in your beer, and think about how you can adjust each step for maximum result.


EDIT: I don't have any photos to post of my beers right now, but I consistently have brilliantly clear beer using only whirlfloc and course filtration (post fermentation). They look like commercial beers, not like a "pretty clear homebrew". I attribute to using great quality ingredients, sound process during the mash and boil and careful attention to fermentation, not any special chill reducing technique.

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Old 11-12-2011, 05:16 PM   #3
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There are so many variables here that no single simple answer can be given and you would do well to consider the experiences of anyone and everyone who offers data. For example 1 u filtration will work for those whose protein globs are bigger than 1 u but it won't work for smaller globules. Standing cold will work for larger globules but as with the filtering not for smaller (I've had beer with tiny globules that was quite hazy after more than a year - the globs were very small).

One factor that has not been mentioned is pH. pH controls the charge on molecules and the charge is a major factor in the formation of clumps. This applies to yeast and haze. To my great surprise when I got religion WRT controlling pH an unanticipated benefit was that the beer cleared faster.

In my experience (I get brilliant beer without filtration) the only way to get chill haze is to omit the protein rest with Maris Otter malt.

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Old 11-12-2011, 07:41 PM   #4
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Strat, I appreciate your post and your time, brother. I want to go through it in detail, in the interest of getting to a solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
1. Chill the beer down to 30-32F to precipitate all the haze causing proteins and tannins, then filter. This will work.
Unfortunately, filtration (1 um nominal cartridge, near-freezing beer) does not work for me, and for many others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
2. Do a protein rest during your mash, between about 115 F and 135F for about 15 minutes. This will break down a lot of the haze causing proteins and they will no longer cause a problem in the finished beer.
Great, I'll try this! I've just been reluctant in the past because I've been told a protein rest is a zero-sum game between clarity and head retention. Do people who use a protein rest to get chill-proof beer also get good foam?

Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
3. "Chill Proof" the beer by chilling it down to 30-32F, and leave it undisturbed for many weeks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by adjelange View Post
Standing cold will work for larger globules but as with the filtering not for smaller (I've had beer with tiny globules that was quite hazy after more than a year - the globs were very small).
Though I haven't cold conditioned for one year, I do cold condition for 3-6 weeks, and I get the same result as adjelange -- some chill haze particles are small enough that their own electrostatic repulsion of each other is strong enough to keep them in permanent suspension.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
4. Use finings such as gelatin. They will bind to tannins, protein, and yeast in suspension and help drop them out.
Unfortunately, gelatin doesn't affect my chill hazes. You really wouldn't expect it to work, either, based on what we know about how fining works. I'll add a follow-up post to go more in depth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
If the things listed above don't work, then it's time to turn focus to other parts of your process, like the vigor of your boil and the speed of your cooling
I do a rolling boil, use whirlfloc, and I use an immersion chiller with agitation (see the OP, brother). I can't exclude it completely, but I'm confident the solution isn't on the hot side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
EDIT: I don't have any photos to post of my beers right now, but I consistently have brilliantly clear beer using only whirlfloc and course filtration (post fermentation). They look like commercial beers, not like a "pretty clear homebrew"
Great! At what temperatures are your beers commercial clear? If I pour one of my beers from the tap and let it sit, it transitions from "London fog" to "commercial clear" in about 20 minutes. Are your beers clear all the way down to 32F?
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drummstikk View Post
Great! At what temperatures are your beers commercial clear? If I pour one of my beers from the tap and let it sit, it transitions from "London fog" to "commercial clear" in about 20 minutes. Are your beers clear all the way down to 32F?
Mine are clear at 37 degrees, as I don't think I've ever had one at 32 degrees. Although, come to think of it, I have lagered at 34 degrees. My kegerator is at 39 degrees, and the beer is crystal clear coming out of it.
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:17 PM   #6
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Default Fining

Ok, I just wanted to go more in depth about fining. I link to some papers here that are behind paywalls -- my apologies, and corporate journals suck!

Gelatin, or any protein, will have a charge that depends on the pH of the solution it's in. When a solution is more acidic, there are more protons present, and the excess protons are donated to the acidic amino acids residues in proteins (glutamate, aspartate) neutralizing their negative charge, and to the basic amino acids (histidine, argenine, lysine), giving them a positive charge. So as pH drops, proteins become more positively-charged.

The pH at which a protein switches from a net negative charge to a net positive charge is the isoelectric point. Gelatin has an isoelectric point of pH 5. So below pH 5 (all fermented beer is below pH 5) gelatin has a positive charge.

The surface of a yeast has an isoelectric point of about pH 4. Even though a yeast is a complex thing, it has an isoelectric point just like a purified protein does. So between pH 4 and pH 5 (beer range), gelatin will be positive, yeast will be negative, and together they will form big aggregates with more or less neutral charge that can fall out of suspension.

Now, what about chill haze? As strat pointed out, chill haze particles are associations between proteins and tannins. The main gluten proteins of barley are a class of proteins called hordeins, and hordeins typically have isoelectric points above pH 6.5! So, hordeins will have a net positive charge at beer pH (4-5), and will actually be repelled by gelatin. So gelatin definitely cannot pull down the protein component of chill haze.

Tannins are big polar molecules. Along with lignins, tannins constitute the bulk of the non-protein and non-carbohydrate components of plant tissue, called polyphenols. They don't have any functional groups that can lose or gain protons. As a result, polyphenols maintain a neutral charge at beer pH, and you wouldn't expect tannins to interact with gelatin, at least not through electrostatics. (positive + neutral = no interaction)

So based on charge interaction, you wouldn't expect gelatin to affect chill haze in any way, and in fact, this is what I find! Fining with gelatin knocks down any residual haze I have at room temp, but when I chill my beer and fine with gelatin, I see no change in the haze.

I haven't tried PVPP, which is supposed to associate with polyphenols. I have been reluctant about adversely affecting my flavor and color. Does anyone have experience with PVPP, and do you notice any significant negative change in beer quality?

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Old 11-12-2011, 08:19 PM   #7
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Serving warmer is the surefire way to get rid of chill haze.

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Old 11-12-2011, 08:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
My kegerator is at 39 degrees, and the beer is crystal clear coming out of it.
Thanks Yooper, you've inspired me to try to find out exactly what temp my beers make the transition to crystal clear. Glass of cloudy beer with thermometer sitting at my side right now. Must not drink...
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:25 PM   #9
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One thing I've noticed about my chill haze is it's variable, some batches have it more than others. I also can stick a beer in the freezer and serve it ice cold and it's haze free, but 2 days in the fridge and it's murky.

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Old 11-13-2011, 07:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
Mine are clear at 37 degrees
My chill haze persisted until about 62F! It took much longer than my estimate of 20 minutes.

Colin Kaminsky recommended that fining with gelatin at room temp can actually make a chill haze worse! I'm a little confused now because this contradicts my rant about how gelatin won't interact with chill haze constituents...

Here's the plan for now -- try fining with gelatin again now that the beer is chilled -- see if that does anything.

Get some PVPP and silica gel.
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