How to get clearer Homebrew
Outside of making the best tasting beer, or one that can knock you out quicker an aim of many homebrewers is making a clear drink. Now real ales will never be completely clear, unless you want to repeatedly filter your ale it is simply a natural part of the process. You can however lessen the effects. Haze being suspended in the liquid can cause a more rapid deterioration in quality, a serious amount may also be a sign that the beer was contaminated. So you may want to take some steps to prevent a serious haze in your ale.
But what even is this stuff in your beer? The haze produced can be caused by a number of different things, but all are processes that create proteins. Sometimes other substances can come into effect but it is protein we want to focus on. To know how to mitigate this we must understand why certain processes create proteins.
The first offender is the ingredients you use. Some malts and other ingredients will cause a higher concentration of protein. Mainly dark malts, which is why you will generally find your darker homebrews to have more haze and sediment. The obvious way to mitigate this is make a lighter ale or try to use less dark malts. But at the same time, you don’t want to spoil your ale. The trick to deal with this is using some Irish moss, which is featured in all of our kits. A common thickening agent it can help the proteins and tannins clump together. Wait you say that is the bloody opposite of what I want! Well not quite, by lumping together instead of floating around your ale they sink to the bottom. A lot will just get left in your fermentation bucket. This won’t completely stop haze build up but helps make the next few kinds less of a problem.
Cooling your beer is a funny one, as it can both help and harm the clarity of your homebrew. The first way cooling can help is right after the boil, the quicker you do so we will again see more protein lumps form and sink. Yeast is one of the main culprits for creating haze, but as it is necessary if you want to actually make alcohol you can’t really avoid that.
Next you want to cool your homebrew once fermentation is complete, this will cause the yeast to become inert and cause a lot of haze to fall out of suspension. Creating a layer of sediment at the bottom of your bottle which won’t do any harm when not disturbed.
However, we now have the problem of chill haze, another term used for the protein lumps create through the process above if it doesn't stay down. While that sediment at the bottom shouldn’t ruin the ale, if shook up they can go right back to being a pain. At room temperature this can disappear again but only if the clumps are small. So while sediment stops haze we also need to make sure it doesn't become an issue later. A longer chill period can help really make the sediment stick but without filtering, adding more agents to help and then changing container it is just an issue you have to accept. If you are careful with your storage this shouldn't be an issue, just let the bottles rest.
Your aim should be to stop haze, but a layer of protein at the bottom is just a fact of proper ales. It is what the drink is really like, part of homebrewing is getting away from the commercial beers and some of the roughness has to come with real ale.