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Old 03-15-2010, 08:06 PM   #1
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Default Beer Clarity Factors...

Hey all, so this morning I had a brief conversation with a fellow HBTer in the IRC chat about beer clarity and things that do/don't influence it. He was suggesting using a longer boil (90 min vs 60 min) will do more for beer clarity than a fast cold crash. He stated that sources he'd read (including a reference made by Palmer on a brewing podcast) said that cooling time has little to do with clarity.

I have to disagree based my initial scientific reasoning on the subject. I find it hard to believe that boiling for an extra 30 mins, after having already done so for 60 mins, would yield a significant increase in denatured proteins in the wort. Now I haven't done any experimentation on the subject nor have I [yet] done any reading specifically about it, so I'm open to different opinion and interpretations.

My concept of clarifying the wort through quickly cooling it is that the proteins begin to re-nature and end up bonding to each other at times by accident as the refold, causing them to coagulate and eventually fall out of solution. If you're cooling quickly, this would obviously be happening with more proteins at one time as each hits their temp threshold. Some (or most?) will also not be able to properly refold at all, regardless of conditions, which would aid coagulation of the proteins as the temp cools.

I'm at work right now, but I was going to look up some papers tonight to see if I could support or disprove my theory... Discuss!


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Old 03-01-2011, 05:50 PM   #2
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I had heard that as well. However, I am having trouble getting some of my beers to clear properly. My cooling process uses an icebath. Usually 10 days in primary, 15 in secondary and then I keg. While in the secondary I will add gelatin and then do my best attempt at cold crashing. In the winter I just pile snow around the secondary or keg for a few days. But for some reason, some of my beers just dont clear up and some just taste too thick. Am I not leaving it in the secondary for long enough?


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Old 03-01-2011, 06:11 PM   #3
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"My concept of clarifying the wort through quickly cooling it is that the proteins begin to re-nature and end up bonding to each other at times by accident as the refold, causing them to coagulate and eventually fall out of solution. If you're cooling quickly, this would obviously be happening with more proteins at one time as each hits their temp threshold. Some (or most?) will also not be able to properly refold at all, regardless of conditions, which would aid coagulation of the proteins as the temp cools."

I agree.

One thing that I noticed about clarity is that it will depend, greatly, on the yeast strain you use.
I use S04 dry yeast a lot. This is a high floculation yeast, fast, that sediment and compact in the primary very well so that anything you brew, even a wheat beer with 100% wheat malt (no barley at all), will come out very clear.
If you use a strain that stay in suspension, no mater what you do, it will not turn clear.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilo View Post
"My concept of clarifying the wort through quickly cooling it is that the proteins begin to re-nature and end up bonding to each other at times by accident as the refold, causing them to coagulate and eventually fall out of solution. If you're cooling quickly, this would obviously be happening with more proteins at one time as each hits their temp threshold. Some (or most?) will also not be able to properly refold at all, regardless of conditions, which would aid coagulation of the proteins as the temp cools."

I agree.

One thing that I noticed about clarity is that it will depend, greatly, on the yeast strain you use.
I use S04 dry yeast a lot. This is a high floculation yeast, fast, that sediment and compact in the primary very well so that anything you brew, even a wheat beer with 100% wheat malt (no barley at all), will come out very clear.
If you use a strain that stay in suspension, no mater what you do, it will not turn clear.
Yes that makes sense. I guess I need to go back and see what yeasts I used in the beers that came out clearer than others. I cant believe I didnt think of that.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:05 AM   #5
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I've done 90 minute and 60 minute boils, cooled them to 40F and 60F, and honestly the biggest variable I've seen is adding irish moss/whirlfloc to the last 10 minutes of a boil and cooling quickly. I brewed a lager last week and boiled for 90 minutes, cooled 5.5 gallons to 40F in about 5 minutes. Unfortunately I forgot the whirlfloc and I hardly got any cold break. Now ales that are boiled for 60 minutes, cooled to 60F, and have whirlfloc I get a lot of break material. I don't think that an extended boil alone will get you a really clear beer. I think it's a combination of cooling/finings that will get you the best results. That or an extended conditioning period that allows particulates to settle out to the bottom of the keg.
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Old 03-02-2011, 01:35 PM   #6
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:42 PM   #7
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I haven't done any real testing of this but it seems if I put really clear wort in the fermenter the resulting beer is LESS clear than if I let some break get in the fermenter. There has to be an upper limit though.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
I haven't done any real testing of this but it seems if I put really clear wort in the fermenter the resulting beer is LESS clear than if I let some break get in the fermenter. There has to be an upper limit though.
Clarify for me (haha a pun!), when you say you put really clear wort in the fermentor, that means you get a cold break in the kettle and then transfer the post-break wort to the fermentor?

Obviously no one factor alone will yield clear beer, but I would say that a combination of Whirlfloc, a quick cool down, and a good cold crash should almost always do the trick. There is always gelatine to add later (if you're not bottling) just in case. I don't see yeast causing haze long term, after a few days of a cold crash there should be little to no yeast left in suspension. I have had a few beers that just took forever to clear, even after adding gelatine to the keg. I cranked the temp down as low as I dare go and waited it out, eventually the beers cleared. I wasn't getting very good cold breaks at that point, so I attributed the haze to not being able to enact proper beer clearing steps. It'll be interesting to see if those same recipes have trouble with my new system.

PS: It's only about a year late, but at least this thread finally woke up!!
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gremlyn1 View Post
Clarify for me (haha a pun!), when you say you put really clear wort in the fermentor, that means you get a cold break in the kettle and then transfer the post-break wort to the fermentor?

Obviously no one factor alone will yield clear beer, but I would say that a combination of Whirlfloc, a quick cool down, and a good cold crash should almost always do the trick. There is always gelatine to add later (if you're not bottling) just in case. I don't see yeast causing haze long term, after a few days of a cold crash there should be little to no yeast left in suspension. I have had a few beers that just took forever to clear, even after adding gelatine to the keg. I cranked the temp down as low as I dare go and waited it out, eventually the beers cleared. I wasn't getting very good cold breaks at that point, so I attributed the haze to not being able to enact proper beer clearing steps. It'll be interesting to see if those same recipes have trouble with my new system.

PS: It's only about a year late, but at least this thread finally woke up!!
It was something I thought I had noticed when I was trying to get the clearest wort I could in the fermenter (it didn't seem to be yielding clearer beer, if anything just the opposite). Then I made a couple of 10 gal batches where I split it into two 5 gal carboys, the first carboy got uber clear wort and the second one got all the break. The second one was clearerer both times (also tasted better both times). I did use different yeast strains in one of those and in the other I used the same alleged strain but one was dry and one was liquid. Like I said, no real experiments just an observation with lots of other variables.

I've read that unless you chill fast and really low you don't really get much cold break and there are some that say that some cold break is actually beneficial to the yeast (not so much with hot break). Then again, those that use plates or CFCs straight into the fermenter (and nothing else) are getting both the hot/cold break into the fermenter and don't seem to have much problem.

I've had some beers that didn't clear as fast as expected but after enough time they eventually did.


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