Beer Clarity

Beer clarity and chill haze

The most common type of problem with beer clarity is haze. Typically the haze that causes most home brewers problems is the chill haze (which is temporary). Often a beer with chill haze will exhibit a hazy look at cooler temperatures but will be clear at warmer temperatures. The exact mechanism is that the proteins and pholyphenols, otherwise known as tannins, form weak bonds at lower temperatures. As temperature increases the bonds are broken and these compounds are then dissolved into the beer (unobserved by the eye).   Aging, just like with most things, affects chill haze in a negative manner so it is important that it be reduced to a minimum when bottled or kegged.

So what needs to be done to reduce the occurrence of these chill haze compounds?  I will step through the list and give the low down on each.

  • Fining Agents, There are three main types of agents (chill haze polyphenol removers, chill haze protein removers, and yeast removers).  These can be added to reduce chill haze but if they are over done it can cause added haze to the beer.  It is very important that these be used in a limited fashion as recommended by the agent supplier.  Fining agents will not be able to overcome technical problems which result from brewing.  This is the most common and typically the only method that home brewers use.
  • Filtration, It may seem that filtration would be the best way to remove particles from your beer but the truth of the matter is that the haze compounds are not easily filtered.  It will help to filter the beer as some of the haze compounds are removed but it may not be as beneficial as logic would lead you to believe.
  • Ice Stabilization, Cold storage has the biggest bang to reducing haze compounds.  If the beer can be at near freezing to the point that ice crystals are formed there is a number of benefits to the beer assuming it can be separated from the low quantity of ice.  The first benefit is that the beer is as cold as it will be served and the solubility is the lowest.  This means that the beer can be separated from the majority of the problems related to haze.  You will notice that yeast will not want to be in solution at cold temperatures either they will drop out like a rock.  Haze compounds will also settle out at colder temperatures assuming the beer is racked at these colder temperatures.  This is by far the easiest and most efficient methods of stabilizing the beer.  If used in conjunction with the other methods listed above, a very bright beer should be expected.


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