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Driftwood

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Hello all,

I've just brewed my first homebrew, a pale ale, and will be bottling in a few days. Just wondering if it should still be this cloudy in the fermenter. Its got a nice colour to it, but I sure can't see through it. What can I do for next time to make it clearer? Maybe I didn't cool it quick enough after the boil? (It took about twenty min to cool to pitching temp.) Its been in there for 2 weeks, yeast looks like its settled out nicely.

And can you filter the beer before bottling? Does that make sense, or would you remove the yeast or something? How about filtering when pouring from the bottle to the glass?

Thanks.
 

NUCC98

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Driftwood said:
Hello all,

I've just brewed my first homebrew, a pale ale, and will be bottling in a few days. Just wondering if it should still be this cloudy in the fermenter. Its got a nice colour to it, but I sure can't see through it. What can I do for next time to make it clearer? Maybe I didn't cool it quick enough after the boil? (It took about twenty min to cool to pitching temp.) Its been in there for 2 weeks, yeast looks like its settled out nicely.

And can you filter the beer before bottling? Does that make sense, or would you remove the yeast or something? How about filtering when pouring from the bottle to the glass?

Thanks.
Hey DW...I wouldn't worry too much about filtering in the sense of runnign your beer through one. With my last batch, I tried cold filtering. With the weather being as cold as it's been up here, I racked a brown ale over to a secondary and put it in my attic for about a week. The cold temps really help precipitate a lot of the extra *stuff* from your beer. I'm trying it again with a slightly lighter beer to see if I get good results. Since I mean, let's face it, how clear can a brown ale really be, right? Anyway, with this one, I think after I cold filter it, I'll move it back downstairs, dump some Polyclar in it about 2 or 3 days prior to bottling.

Bottom line is that if you want clearer beer, try not to bottle from your primary. That's the best first step. Then you can start experimenting with other techniques like cold filtering, adding polyclar or gelatin finings....stuff like that. Just remember...you're a homebrewer, and not a big commercial brewery. Just because the beer isn't crystal clear, doesn't mean is still can't taste great....damn, I should go into marketing... :D
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Driftwood said:
Hello all,

I've just brewed my first homebrew, a pale ale, and will be bottling in a few days. Just wondering if it should still be this cloudy in the fermenter. Its got a nice colour to it, but I sure can't see through it. What can I do for next time to make it clearer? Maybe I didn't cool it quick enough after the boil? (It took about twenty min to cool to pitching temp.) Its been in there for 2 weeks, yeast looks like its settled out nicely.

And can you filter the beer before bottling? Does that make sense, or would you remove the yeast or something? How about filtering when pouring from the bottle to the glass?

Thanks.

several people use irsh moss in the boil to help clarity, or isinglas (?). two stage fermenting will help clear your beer also (along w/ taste!). it will give time for sediment to fall out during conditioning. sometimes the yeast you use will leave a cloudy effect to the finished beer (like hefeweizen yeast) and some times the yeast will leave beer clearer (like English Ale yeast for ESB's). a good boil will help to have a clear beer, and good racking techniques. try not to stir up too much sediment each time you rack, bottle. but, like nucc said, it's homebrew. i wouldn't get too bent out of shape about clarity. i dont use anything for clarity, and my beers come out looking real clear. as long as they taste good and are close to the profile you brewed, go with it.

cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 

uglygoat

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real easy thing you can do is ensure that you do not syphon the sediment up off the bottom of the boiling kettle, the primary and the secondary when you are racking. by not disturbing that layer of trub that settles you will greatly improve the clarity of your beer.
 

Janx

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Use a seconday, let it sit longer in said secondary, use a pump to recirculate your mash, Irish moss, minimizing hot side aeration...all are options. But in reality, you probably just shouldn't let it bother you. As your brewing skills increase, you'll see clearer and clearer beer. And it doesn't affect the flavor. It's not suspended yeast if it's done fermenting.
 
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Also, when you look through a 5g carboy of beer it never looks really clear based on how much you got there. I've been pleasantly surprised how clear my IPA and a wheat beer has been once poured into a glass compared to what it looked like in the secondary. (6 batches under the belt, literally...)
 

Roger

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Janx said:
Use a seconday, let it sit longer in said secondary, use a pump to recirculate your mash, Irish moss, minimizing hot side aeration...all are options. But in reality, you probably just shouldn't let it bother you. As your brewing skills increase, you'll see clearer and clearer beer. And it doesn't affect the flavor. It's not suspended yeast if it's done fermenting.
Janx, can you explain "use a pump to recirculate the mash"? I use a picnic box masher in Cheshire, England. Thanks
 

Janx

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The concept of using a pump to recirculate the mash is inherent to RIMS systems (and HERMS and all the other spinoffs of RIMS). RIMS stands for Recirculating Infusion Mash System. HERMS is Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System.

I had a few RIMS systems before my current setup, so I have a bunch of experience with them. The idea is that you draw wort out of the bottom of your mash tun, pump it past a heating element (usually a water heater element), and then back to the top of the mash tun. The whole thing is controlled with a pump speed controller and a temperature controller. The idea is that you will have perfect mash temps throughout the grain bed.

It's obviously a kind of complex system with a lot of potential failure points. It's fun if you like to tinker with brew equipment as much or more than you like to brew. Another big disadvantage is that the heating element caramelizes the mash and definitely darkens the beer. That's a problem HERMS systems address by using a liquid heat exchanger instead of the direct contact with the heating element. They are, of course, even more complex.

I went back to a three-tier infusion setup, and my beer is just as good as it was with my RIMS, except for the clarity. That's the one advantage I see in using a RIMS. Recirculating the wort through the grain bed for a long time really does clarify the beer. It's more complicated than just filtering out trub. I have no scientific explanation, but you get no haze of any sort. No chill haze. Nothing. Crystal clear beer.

You cannot get the same results by pouring a few quarts or even gallons of wort back in the top of your mash tun. I have tried. There's something about the constant recirculation that really get the finished beer clear. Maybe it's a static filter caused by the constant flow through the grain bed? Who knows. All I know is it really works, and the only way to do it is with a pump and recirculating at least 15 minutes.

So, what I am going to do, since I have no interest in a more complicated system like RIMS or HERMS, is add a pump that I can use to recirculate the wort at the end of the mash. I can also use it to pump through my chiller and speed that up a bit. I'm pretty sure if I run it for 15 or 20 minutes, I can get that crystal clear beer again. It ends up looking professionally filtered in the end.

Sorry if that's more explanation than you were looking for ;) Cheers! :D
 

Roger

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Janx said:
The concept of using a pump to recirculate the mash is inherent to RIMS systems (and HERMS and all the other spinoffs of RIMS). RIMS stands for Recirculating Infusion Mash System. HERMS is Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System.

I had a few RIMS systems before my current setup, so I have a bunch of experience with them. The idea is that you draw wort out of the bottom of your mash tun, pump it past a heating element (usually a water heater element), and then back to the top of the mash tun. The whole thing is controlled with a pump speed controller and a temperature controller. The idea is that you will have perfect mash temps throughout the grain bed.

It's obviously a kind of complex system with a lot of potential failure points. It's fun if you like to tinker with brew equipment as much or more than you like to brew. Another big disadvantage is that the heating element caramelizes the mash and definitely darkens the beer. That's a problem HERMS systems address by using a liquid heat exchanger instead of the direct contact with the heating element. They are, of course, even more complex.

I went back to a three-tier infusion setup, and my beer is just as good as it was with my RIMS, except for the clarity. That's the one advantage I see in using a RIMS. Recirculating the wort through the grain bed for a long time really does clarify the beer. It's more complicated than just filtering out trub. I have no scientific explanation, but you get no haze of any sort. No chill haze. Nothing. Crystal clear beer.

You cannot get the same results by pouring a few quarts or even gallons of wort back in the top of your mash tun. I have tried. There's something about the constant recirculation that really get the finished beer clear. Maybe it's a static filter caused by the constant flow through the grain bed? Who knows. All I know is it really works, and the only way to do it is with a pump and recirculating at least 15 minutes.

So, what I am going to do, since I have no interest in a more complicated system like RIMS or HERMS, is add a pump that I can use to recirculate the wort at the end of the mash. I can also use it to pump through my chiller and speed that up a bit. I'm pretty sure if I run it for 15 or 20 minutes, I can get that crystal clear beer again. It ends up looking professionally filtered in the end.

Sorry if that's more explanation than you were looking for ;) Cheers! :D

Yes, you're right there. I think I'll stick to my picnic box, this job can be as easy or complex as you want I think. Thanks for the very detailed explanation anyhow.
 
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DyerNeedOfBeer said:
It seems that if you have a well insulated system and are only circulating the wort for this short a period, there is no need for a heater. Do the RIMS and HERMS systems circulate for longer than this thus tending to cool off the wort and therefore require heaters?
You generally recirculate the wort through the entire mash with these systems...at least an hour. You can also bump up the temperature just by turning up the heat on your controller.

DyerNeedOfBeer said:
Janx said:
The whole thing is controlled with a pump speed controller...
What is the purpose of the controller here? Is the flow rate critical in this procedure? If so, can't this be controlled with throttling via a valve?
Most pumps that you use for a RIMS or HERMS have too high a flow rate and you risk compacting the grain bed by "sucking" the wort out of the bottom too quickly. To get an appropriate flow rate, you need to choke it back somehow.

A valve is often a better way to go, actually. Putting a speed controller on many pumps is bad for the motor and shortens their life.

DyerNeedOfBeer said:
Also, I am still a bit confused on the difference in RIMS and HERMS... the only difference being the heating element? Is the RIMS heater like an aquarium heater and the HERMS an actual heat exchanger with a heated liquid on the other side of the wort therefore not 'scorching' the wort?
You need something more beefy than an aquarium heater. Generally you get a special water heater element that is longer and lower temp so that you scorch the wort less.

The HERMS has two recirculating systems...one is your wort though the grain bed, and the other is recirculating hot water (or I suppose refrigerant or whatever if you *really* want to go overboard). You can heat it with the same heating element or a kettle on a burner or whatever...the key difference is that the wort does not directly come in contact with the heating element and thus does not caramelize. The heat is exchanged in a heat exchanger much like a counterflow wort chiller.

Just to reiterate, I do not recommend these systems, *especially* for your first system. Make yourself a nice cheap infusion system out of a cooler and after a few batches, see what changes you want. These systems are for folks who like gadgets. They are overly complex, expensive and problem-prone. They offer little in the way of benefits for most beer you want to make. The single benefit, in my opinion, is the clarity, but you can duplicate that simply by adding a pump to an infusion system and recirculating about 15 minutes.

For your first setup, when you are learning all the other aspects of AG brewing, it would really just make life more difficult with no benefit at all. You can always turn your cooler or converted keg mash tun into a RIMS or HERMS later on if the mood strikes you. For starters, definitely plan on doing some single infusion mashes. You can make just as good beer that way. Cheers! :D
 
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