Beer haze sucks!… I don’t like it, unless I am brewing a hefeweizen or some sort of cloudy beer…

…so I have gone through tons of research to brew beers as clear as possible, and the most popular way recommended to brew clear beers was to use fining agents like Irish Moss, whirfloc and others…

… but my question here is… are fining agents really needed to brew clear beers?

What about filtering?

My answer, so far… not necessarily…

Haze can be formed because of very many different reasons ranging from your choice of ingredients to various steps in the mashing, brewing, and fermentation process…

The most common source of haze that I’ve found comes from proteins…

Irish moss is supposed to bind with some of these proteins and make them drop to the bottom of the fermentor…

… and that would be a good thing if proteins were simply a haze causing ingredient in beer, but it turns out that proteins are CRITICAL to good head formation and retention

… so I’ve wondered what effect does Irish moss have on these head forming proteins, and if removing some of those has any effects on flavor?

Turns out, the November 2010 issue of Brew Your Own ran a collaborative experiment to see the effects of Irish Moss and other fining agents in beer…

… and they found that Irish moss does indeed affect head retention… other finings like gelatin can also reduce flavor and aroma… and the difference in clarity from a treated beer and an untreated was not very large…

… so I have to wonder if the brewing process had anything to do with this…

… and I had to go try this for myself… I attempted to brew a clear, clear beer without Irish moss or any other finings and see if focusing on good brewing techniques could be all you need…

My result?

I brewed a really clear and very pale (light) lager without any finings of any kind… a style where it is extremely hard to hide any mistakes… I don’t know if you can see the clarity of the beer on the video, but if you take my word for it, it is clear…

I used to add Irish moss to every beer (except dark or cloudy ones), but from now on, I will focus on process and if the beer doesn’t turn out clear, then I may consider finings with the disadvantages in mind…

…. I focused on doing a 20 minute protein rest during the mash, adding calcium to the water, good lautering practices, stronger boil, used my power fermenting technique, and lagered for two and a half weeks…

While temperature control probably had the greatest effect, my beer wouldn’t have been as clear had I not done the other stuff right…

It goes to show that one technique is good… two is better… and a series of techniques put together into a brewing method trumps everything else…


    2 replies to "No Irish Moss Needed For Clear Beer?"

    • jeff

      jorge, I made an imperial nut brown extract with specialty grains. I left it in my fermenter for 5 weeks(had to go out of town). Kegged it when I got back and after carb-ing it for a week @12 psi it is hazy. Could this be caused by too long in primary? It was very clear before fermenting. Thanks

    • Jorge

      Jeff,

      It’s probably not from leaving it in the primary too long. If it was clear at time of transfer, then my guess is that it’s likely to be either chill haze or just yeast haze if any got carried over at time of transferring.

      If it’s just yeast haze, then your first few pints will be hazy, but then you’ll start pouring clear beers…

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