Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Clear as mud - Or How to make clearer gluten free beer?

I've been contacted a few times about improving the clarity of gluten free beers.  I thought I would detail a few of the options for products and how they're used.

Whirlfloc tablets
I have been using these round tablets for some time in my boil. The active ingredient within the tablets Irish moss is a type of seaweed that when added to the boil allows the proteins to drop out of suspension.  This makes a massive difference to yeast suspension in gluten free beers.  I add the tablet at 15 minutes from the end of the boil where it will fizz and spread the irish moss.

Be sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure they are gluten free prior to adding them to your brew.

Straining the Wort
Gluten free beer made with Sorghum produces a lot of trub (technical term for crap on the bottom of the fermenter).  A way to reduce the amount of trub is to strain hops out after the Wort has been chilled.  I used to strain my hops with a paint strainer or pasta strainer previously.  But recently I switched to a hop sock which is considerably faster.

After the beer has finished fermenting and prior to bottling or kegging gelatine can be used to clarify the beer.  Boil about 1/4 cup of water and combine with 1 teaspoon of gelatine stirring vigorously.   Cover and allow to cool.  Slowly add this across the top of your beer and reseal the fermenter.  It should take 24 to 48 hours to take effect.

Please note that once you add Gelatine to the beer it will no longer be Vegetarian or Vegan.  I don't use this for my beers.

Crash chilling
This will require a space in your fridge or temperature controlled freezer to fit your fermenting vessel.  Place your vessel in the fridge and set the temperature down to 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 72 hours.  Any suspended yeast or hop particles will drop to the bottom of the fermentation vessel during this time and (save for shaking the vessel) will not transfer to the bottle or keg.  Even though suspended yeast will drop out there will be enough remaining yeast to bottle carbonate.

Bottle Carbonation
I found that following the above processes when the beer bottle carbonated, any additional yeast or trub would settle into a compact sediment.  Decanting into a glass made for a clear beer.

Keg forced Carbonation
Any trub that is transferred into the keg will settle after a few days in the fridge.  Discard the first pour and it will continue to improve the more beer you serve.