↠ How to stop cloudy home brew from happening


Cloudy beer can suck visually, but why does it happen?


I did a batch of beer and nicely conditioned it and on pouring, it came about cloudier than usual.

It looked like a wheat beer that had been mixed with sawdust.

An imperfection.

Tasted alright though, but I wondered what had caused this to happen? Usually, my brews look deliciously golden...
  • Was it because I made a mistake brewing?
  • Did I get the temperature wrong?
  • Was my yeast off?
Well, the truth is cloudy home brew beer is a common thing and it can occur for various reasons.

First up, as you are bottling your beer, you may notice that beer can be cloudy. This is a very normal part of the process as the beer hasn’t fully become beer yet.

As you bottle, you add some form of priming sugar. The residual yeast in the bottle will feed on that sugar and carbonation war occur. As the sugars are consumed by the yeast, the yeast will fall to the bottom of the bottle and the beer will go "clear".

You’ll obviously be able to tell this has happened as your beer will not be cloudy AND there will likely be some sediment at the bottom of the beer bottle.

Leaving the beer in the fermenter a bit longer than you might usually do so gives your beer time to clear even more.

By letting the yeast do its thing for a longer time, your beer will taste better too.



Do you know what the best trick is to avoid cloudy beer is? 


Cold crashing.

Chilling your beer in a fridge at the end of fermentation will cause yeast to fall to the bottom giving you greatly improved clarity. The short version of cold crashing is that you place the whole 23 litre fermenting drum into a pretty cold fridge and you leave it for several days to allow the cold to do its thing.

You can then bottle or keg in the normal manner.

How you condition beer is important too


A careful pour from the bottle will usually avoid stirring up the sediment which causes a cloudy glass of beer. 

This is especially so if you have got a perfect level of carbonation – an over-sugared beer means more bubbles which increases the chance of the sediment being stirred up into your pour.

If opening your beer causes the beer to go cloudy because the bubbles stir the sediment up too much, I've found cooling the beer in a fridge for 24 hours can help prevent this quite well.

You can also use finings to 'clear' your beer of unwanted proteins what can also cause cloudiness.

Cooling and refrigeration


One of the reasons why beer does go cloudy is due to improper refrigeration timings and techniques.

The process of storing beer is called laagering (sounds like lager eh?). Lagers are lagers because they are best stored cold.

Nordic Vikings learned this method years ago when they laagered their beer barrels in cold caves over the winter or something...

Refrigeration of storing beer in a cool place helps to clear beer rapidly.

The science behind this is at lower temperatures it is more difficult for the yeast, tannins and proteins in the beer to remain suspended.

Cold stored beer will clear much more rapidly than beer stored at a normal room temperature.

If you intend to laager your beer you must wait until carbonation has occurred. If you cool your beer too soon, you run the risk of disrupting the yeast from its secondary fermentation process and carbonation may not occur (or it will be very slow to do so).

Fining agents can reduce cloudiness


A number of fining agents can be added to the finished beer that will aid in clearing the beer quickly.

These agents work by attaching themselves to the yeast, tannins, and proteins to help them precipitate to the bottom of your fermenter or bottle more quickly.

Plain gelatin can be used quite well. Dissolve it in a warm sterile water and add it to your fermenter a few days before bottling.

Polyclar is also a popular product to use.

I also have a sneaky suspicion that gelatin in jelly beans also works to help clear the beer.

Chill haze and the 'cold break'


You may have heard of ‘chill haze’. This is a really common cause of beer cloudiness where the wort has been boiled and the cooling process has not generated enough ‘cold break’. 

The cold break is the proteins from the beer that are precipitated to the bottom of the beer by the cold temperature.

Using a copper wort chiller allows for an effective way to get more cold break forming and thus reduces the chance of chill haze in your finished beer.

German wheat beers are often cloudy and that's just the way it is


If you are making a German style wheat beer, it is natural for a wheat beer to have an element of cloudiness.

Some beers, like German Hefeweizens, use yeasts and ingredients that make the beer cloudy no matter what you do.

So how do the big breweries avoid producing cloudy beer?


It’s a simple trick.

Commercial brewers (including craft beer breweries)  filter their beer.

From it, they take all the live yeast and basically bottle a “lifeless” product. The beer you homebrew and drink still contains live yeast so there’s a much more likelihood of a cloudy home brew happening.

Beer like Steinlager that you buy from commercial brewers (and even craft beer breweries) will have been filtered.

Another handy trick that the home brewer can do to improve their beer is to use a fining agent. 

The agent is usually a form a gelatin or moss (!) and it binds to the yeast and other particles in the beer and drags them down to the bottom of the beer to take their grave as sediment.

Sugar 

Make sure that you do not over sugar your beers. If you do, you run the risk of extra fizzy beer or gushers which can clearly upset the sediment.

A cloudy beer isn’t the end of the world but hopefully this will give a little insight into why your beer is cloudy and how you can try to clear it up the next time that you brew.

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