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Old 09-04-2006, 10:37 PM   #1
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Default Gelatin AFTER conditioning

I have Cheesefood's Vanilla Caramel Milk Ale in the kegerator right now, and I haven't really been happy with it. I think a few early mistakes led to a sub-par beer (not the topic of the post really - I've already addressed my brew problems elsewhere).

However, it never really clarified, and it had some fruity off flavors, so I decided to try something I read about on another site after a Google search. I bloomed an envelope of Knox gelatin in a cup of hot water, cooled it slightly, and drizzled it into my cold, carbonated, kegged beer. I purged the head space with CO2, put it back in the fridge, and three days later, I had CLEAR BEER. It also stripped a little of the flavor from the beer (an intentional side effect), so the body and flavor are a bit lighter and more tolerable than before. I'm quite surprised with the results!

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

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Old 09-04-2006, 11:40 PM   #2
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Gelatin is used in the wine industry to reduce tannins, so I'm not surprised.

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Old 09-05-2006, 01:08 AM   #3
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Yuri_Rage, what components of the flavor did it affect the most?

I don't know what Cheesefood's Vanilla Caramel Milk Ale is supposed to taste like, but I know that I want my first brew, and ESB, to come out with characteristic ESB-type clarity (e.g. Fuller's ESB), and not with any detectable cloudiness. Part of the enjoyment of drinking beer, for me, is in the visual aspect. That's why I always drink from a glass. I might consider clarifying by this technique if I could figure out how to do it with bottles rather than a keg. On the other hand, I wouldn't want any of the crisp bitterness or aroma of an ESB to be stripped away.

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Old 09-05-2006, 02:52 AM   #4
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I used gelatin specifically because I wanted to strip some flavor from the beer. It took some of the fruity ester flavors away, but it also affected the malt flavor and took some of the body away. This was sort of an "emergency measure" to try and correct a beer gone slightly wrong.

Your best bet for clear beer starts with the boil - getting a good hot break and leaving it in the brew pot. You then want to crash cool the beer to get the cold break to coagulate and settle as well (preferably removing it, also). Using Irish moss or a similar product in the boil will help the proteins coagulate and settle. A healthy fermentation followed by racking and allowing the beer to rest in a "secondary" or clearing tank will further help clarify the beer. You can use Isinglass or Polyclar at this stage without the detrimental effects of gelatin stripping flavors out. Finally, aging the beer for an appropriate amount of time will allow any remaining yeast sediment to fall out, leaving you a nice clear beer.

In short, I would avoid the post-conditioning gelatin method unless you actually want to remove some flavor components, including the desirable ones, from your beer. It would be almost impossible - or at least VERY impractical - to do something like this with bottled beer.

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Last edited by Yuri_Rage; 09-05-2006 at 04:46 AM. Reason: clarification of clarification info
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Old 09-05-2006, 05:01 AM   #5
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One online source I found said that you need to chill the wort rapidly down to 0 to 5 degrees Celsius to get a good cold break. That is 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the pitching temperature for ales.. If that is true, then it seems like a system far more effective than a copper tube immersion wort chiller with tap water running through it is needed. And you'd have to heat the wort back up to pitching temp before adding the yeast. Weird.

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Old 09-05-2006, 05:51 AM   #6
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Default Thermonator

Slightly off the original topic, but regarding Yuri's point about getting a good cold break after the boil:

I've got a friend of a friend who swears by this thermonator device (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/produ...px?ProdID=5789) that chills your wort by close contact with flowing cool water - similar in concept, I guess to the counterflow chiller. To my way of thinking, if you wanted to get a good cold break and get the crapola to fall out so it doesn't go in your primary, that you want to use an imersion chiller and this thermonator wouldn't do any of that for you. In fact, you'd just end up with all that stuff you didn't want if you used this. Does anyone have any experience with this device?

In particular, does using a conical mean that you can use this thermonator and still draw off the cold break without it imparting flavor to your beer? I could maybe see that as a way to get the benies from this device and still get rid of the nasties that fall out of a cold break.

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