Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

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Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby maltbarley on Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:56 pm

I got this from the Long Beach Homebrewers newsletter, The Brews Telegram:

Brewing Tip: Fining With Gelatin

A recurring question that comes up in our meetings is post-fermentation fining with gelatin to achieve crystal clear beer from the keg. Gelatin is an essential clarifier that is widely used by breweries such as Pizza Port, Russian River, and Avery.

How does gelatin work? It has a charge opposite to haze causing proteins. When dissolved in water and mixed into finished beer, gelatin will bind with those haze causing proteins and drop out of suspension to the bottom of the keg. From this point it can be dispensed through the keg faucet and discarded. Usually about a pint of "dirty beer" is dispensed before it runs clear. In addition to clearing proteins, gelatin also binds to polyphenols, substances that can add a little sharpness to your beer. Clearing the polyphenols adds "brightness" to your beer and keeps flavors fresher longer.

I've heard of some homebrewers fining their beer in the carboy, but I personally don't see this being practical. For all intents and purposes, you must have a kegging system. Fining in the bottle is not possible as the gelatin-bound fraction must be discarded soon after fining. Fining must also be performed on chilled beer, which is when haze causing proteins precipitate out of solution. Fining can be perfomed on carbonated or non-carbonated beer. CO2 has no effect on the process.

The following procedure is for fining 5 gallons of beer in the keg:
1) Boil 2 ounces of water for 1-3 minutes in a flask or small Pyrex measuring cup covered with foil to sanitize.
2) Let the water cool to about 180-190 degrees, which may take a few minutes.
3) Add 1 teaspoon of gelatin and swirl gently until dissolved. Knox brand gelatin will work
perfectly.
4) Add the mixture to your keg of beer. Since it's such a small volume you're adding, you don't need to cool the gelatin solution down.
5) Seal the keg back up and purge the head space in your keg a few times with CO2.
6) Swirl the keg to mix things evenly.
7) Allow the keg to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
8) Dispense the first muddy pint into a glass and discard.

Enjoy your clear bright beer!


I haven't tried it yet, but it seems easy enough that I just might give it a whirl.
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Postby Rezzin on Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:25 pm

Are your beers cloudy or are you trying this to see if there is a flavor difference post gelatin?
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Postby maltbarley on Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:35 pm

Not always, but from time to time there is that batch that could be clearer. I currently have one cider that could stand to lighten up.
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Postby backyard brewer on Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:10 pm

I may try this. My beers are usually clear, but I would like them to be brighter.
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Postby bwarbiany on Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:51 pm

Yeah, now that I'm *finally* back to kegging, I might give this a try just for the hell of it. I've never cared that much about a little haze, but taste is also partly related to expectation which comes from presentation, so a clearer, brighter beer might be nice.
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Postby Whorst on Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:32 am

I use it regularly for cask ales. I add the gelatin along with about 2 ounces of priming sugar directly to the corny. If you use Safale-05, I find you have to use finings if you want bright beer. Bright is also subjective. Beer will look filtered if you use Gelatin.
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Postby lars on Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:55 am

Whorst wrote:If you use Safale-05, I find you have to use finings if you want bright beer.


Really??? I use US 05 on a regular basis and get crystal clear beer without filtering and without finings. I do however, use an extended primary (usually almost 1 month).
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Postby bwarbiany on Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:12 am

I posted in another thread a while back, but I tried Gelatin on my IPA. It had been about 3-4 weeks in primary (S-05), but with a large quantity of dry hopping. OG of 1.071.

Normally with a beer of that gravity, I keg it and it doesn't taste "right" for 2-3 weeks, as it naturally clears. With this beer, it was clear and tasted great in about 2-3 days.

Consider me a convert. I will be using gelatin in any beer lighter in color than a porter/stout from now on.
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Postby Oskaar on Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:42 am

Gelatin fining is an old and well established process in the wine and mead worlds as well. I've done this a number of times on ciders, wines, meads, braggots and beers with no issues. Have not done this specifically with safale 50, but I have done it with yeasts that are notorious for residual turbidity.

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Re: Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby lexuschris on Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:43 pm

Was just looking up info on using Gelatin to clear my beer, as I have never tried this.

For those who do this straight in a standard corney keg, is it really just a pint or so to suck it all out? Just until it runs clear?

Store bought Knox gelatin works fine, or should I pick up some other gelatin?

Thanks!
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Re: Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby bwarbiany on Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:08 am

lexuschris wrote:For those who do this straight in a standard corney keg, is it really just a pint or so to suck it all out? Just until it runs clear?


I've actually taken to putting it in the fermenter right before crash cooling the beer. I kegged my red ale last night, and I think it's somewhat likely even my first pint will be clear.

But yes, if you add gelatin to the corny, give it 1-2 days *at* cold temps (i.e. not including the cooling time), you should be able to pull a pint of sludge and the second pint will be mostly clear. Third pint will be bright.
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Re: Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:33 pm

One of the reasons I started to use the bright tanks (corny kegs with shortened dip tubes) is so that I can leave all the gunk behind when I transfer into serving kegs. I take my kegs all over the place to serve beer and even in a clear beer, the motion of transporting the kegs can stir up some sediment so I would end up serving cloudy beers no matter how clear the beer looked at home. Time, gravity, gelatin, low temps, and the bright tanks allow me to server clear beer even out of a newly transported keg.
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Re: Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby maltbarley on Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:49 pm

BrewMasterBrad wrote: I take my kegs all over the place to serve beer and even in a clear beer, the motion of transporting the kegs can stir up some sediment so I would end up serving cloudy beers no matter how clear the beer looked at home.


Excellent point that BMB makes. If you keep your kegs stationary, the clear beer creates a path through the sediment, but as soon as you move it, it will stir up and settle back in the out path. If your kegs stay at home, you'll serve clear after a half a pint. Otherwise, use a bright tank like he does.
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Re: Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby bwarbiany on Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:09 pm

maltbarley wrote:
BrewMasterBrad wrote: I take my kegs all over the place to serve beer and even in a clear beer, the motion of transporting the kegs can stir up some sediment so I would end up serving cloudy beers no matter how clear the beer looked at home.


Excellent point that BMB makes. If you keep your kegs stationary, the clear beer creates a path through the sediment, but as soon as you move it, it will stir up and settle back in the out path. If your kegs stay at home, you'll serve clear after a half a pint. Otherwise, use a bright tank like he does.


Very good point... This is one additional benefit to adding gelatin in the fermenter, assuming you can (as I do) transfer from the fermenter without agitation. My first of the two kegs came out very bright, and thus is going to be the keg I serve from at a party this coming weekend. I'll have to check the first pint later this week, but I expect it will pour pretty nicely even on the first one. The second of the two kegs got a bit of sediment as I lowered the racking tube during the transfer, but will still be significantly clearer than if I had not added the gelatin.
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Re: Using Gelatin to Clear Your Beer

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:14 pm

It always amazes me as to how much sediment there is left after a keg blows. Even after extensive time in primary, cold crashing, racking to a bright tank, adding gelatin, and then a few months in the keg until it is empty. There is still some sediment in there.
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