Brewing beer is a relatively simple process. However, there is more to it than just adding the right ingredients. Cleansing, sanitising, and even getting the temperature right all play a part, as do the fining agents.
What Are Fining Agents?
In a perfect world you add all the ingredients to your beer, get the temperature just right, and the beer brews perfectly. The result is a clear amber liquid that pours nicely, has a stable head, and tastes fantastic.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case and the fermented beer looks cloudy or hazy. That’s when you need to start looking at fining agents, which are also known as beer clarifiers. Their role is to remove the haze and give you the clear liquid that you hoped for.
In the process, they can also adjust the flavour.
The Cause Of Haze
Haze is generally a result of the fermentation process. Most hazes will be classified as either biological or non-biological.
A biological haze is caused by an issue with the yeast. This can be a lack of temperature control preventing the yeast from developing properly. It can also be a result of poor sanitation in the production or pre-production process. This allows bacteria to multiply while the beer is fermenting and create the haze.
Unfortunately, there is little that can be done if the haze is biological. It will affect the flavour of your beer and you are likely to notice a distinct, slightly musty, aroma. You may be forced to discard the beer and learn from your mistakes.
Non-biological hazes are generally a result of proteins in your malt mix with polyphenols in malt and hops. These two substances combine together during the fermentation process and produce a compound known as protein-polyphenol. It is seen as a haze and is particularly noticeable when the beer is chilled.
This type of haze can be dealt with:
Dealing With Non-biological Haze
The first thing to note is that this needs to be dealt with as soon as you are aware of it. The bonds between the two compounds are weak and can be broken. But, if left it will combine with oxygen and the haze can become permanent.
This is where fining agents step in.
There are two main groups of fining agents, those that are used during the fermentation and those that are used after fermentation.
The ones used during fermentation will be adhered to by the yeast and other compounds and then ‘fall out’ of the beer as the process finishes. They are effective at removing the haze and don’t affect the taste of the beer.
Fining agents added in the post-fermentation stage are generally referred to as additives as they will stay in the beer and can influence the flavour.
When you get the fining agents right you can create something special. Of course, it helps to have a stunning meal, such as red kidney bean curry to really bring out the flavour and enjoyment of the beer.
After all, there is nothing like the feeling of eating and drinking something you have created yourself. You just need to spend a little time deciding whether your fining agents should be added during or after fermentation.