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Ask The Brewmaster Homebrew Talk

Clarifying Or Not To Clarify – That Is The Question

So one of the things that I have been thinking about lately with brewing is things that clarify your homebrew.  With a major explosion on the interwebs today based on two articles: 


  2. New England/Vermont-style IPA Is/Not a Thing

I decided it was time to think about this again.  I think that really most beers “look the part” in beauty pageants. 

I have some Irish moss in my supplies.  I have used it before.  Did I notice a difference?  Can’t say that I did.  Why?  Well, my brewing has been an interesting journey.  I really never made the same brew more than once.  There was one brew that I made 7 times, but the thing was, I never used a clarifying agent  with it.  So let’s dive into what it does and how it can help.


Some places call them clarifying agents.  Other places call them fining agents.  The whole reason is to make your homebrew clear, and present a “cleaner” looking product.  Some may argue that the sediment and haziness is what helps set homebrew apart.  Others may rate your beer differently due to the haziness – see how to to win a beer competition.


So what can you use?  Irish Moss, whirlfloc tablets, chillguard, isinglass, polyclar, campden tablets, and clear unflavored gelatin to name a few.    Did you know there are ways to remove some of the trub even before hitting the fermenter?  Whirlpools, and rapid chilling helps.  Strainers help too!


Irish moss….now that makes me chuckle.  Had you told me that I would think about putting seaweed into my beer, I would never have probably believed you.  Now realize, I have put some crazy stuff in my beer before, like ghost peppers, cooking spices – Chinese 5 spice, non carbonated energy drinks and more.  It is just that seaweed seems to have a different connotation.  I do have some Irish moss, but have used it infrequently.


Whirfloc tablets are a mixture of Irish moss and purified carrageenan.  You put in a tablet, or half a tablet, in the last few minutes of the boil.  There have been studies over the last few years about carrageenan, but don’t worry, there is so little in a 5 gallon batch, you should have nothing to worry about.


Isinglass is from fish bladders.  This alone in your beer may stop Vegans from drinking it.  Wow….you might think that this is a crazy additive, but just recently Guinness said they were going to be removing this ingredient from their beer and Vegans began to rejoice.  Scientifically, it is a positive charged particle that attracts and removes the negatively charged particles.  This one differs from the others a bit, as it is used post fermentation, and is more of a conditioning agent before it gets bottled or kegged.


Well, I have just scratched the surface here….and I know that.  Pop in with a comment and let me know your thoughts and philosophies…. as well as what you use and why!




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