Make It Clean And Refined
Home Brewing Recipes
Baker Street Ales Associate Brewer
Arny Lands
Beer Nexus
the crossroads of the beer world
When it comes to brewing beer at home, we all want a clean refined end result.  
Some of us want to pour a beer that looks like it came from a commercial
brewery.  The sad reality is, we do not have the expensive filtration equipment to
get that commercial quality.  The yeast, proteins, and unwanted tannins are the
offensive threat and you need to put on your best D to succeed.

Believe it or not, achieving a clear beer is not very hard to do.  There are
many ways to help with the clarity of your homebrew.  Here are 10 steps
that I personally do each time I brew a beer with a low SRM.  If your beer
still has issues with clarity, it’s not a big deal at all.  The beer will still taste
just as delicious!

1. Grain/Yeast Selection
You may not think the grain selection would play a major part in the clarity of your
beer but it does.  When building your beer recipes make sure you take the time to
understand what is going in and how it may impact the clarity.  The dark malts,
wheat malts, and malts used for head retention will throw a wrench in your goal
of a crystal clear beer.  If those malts are part of your recipe, don’t sweat it.  The
beer wasn’t meant to be crystal clear anyways.

Choose a yeast that accommodates the style of beer you are brewing as a
number 1 rule.  You will also want to find a yeast with a high flocculation rate.  
The higher flocculation, the faster the yeast will drop.  Once again, do not let your
desire for clear beer change the recipe.

2. Let Your Mash Tun Do The Work!
Your mash tun has one of the most important jobs in the brewing process. It
does a great job by itself and does not need your help.  Do not try to push down
on the grain bed to extract more wort.  That is a really dumb idea and I promise
you will end up pissed off.  Know your strike volumes and have a game plan
before brew day.  If you just leave it alone, I promise the wort will come out clear.  
If you are using a square cooler, go with a bazooka screen.  If you have a round
drink cooler, you can also go with a false bottom.

You also CANNOT forget to vorlauf until your beer runs clear! When I am draining
the wort from my mash tun to the boil kettle I use a funnel to grab any additional
surprises (like a bug) that could make it into my beer.  This may be a little
obsessive but it works for me.

3. Hot Break
Make sure you hit a boil quickly to achieve a good hot break.  When you start
to see a smooth foam forming on top of your wort, get ready to stir and adjust
your heat to avoid a boil over.  You can also spray it with water.  You are close
to seeing the hot break forming.  The hot break is crucial to the binding of
proteins.  When these proteins bind together, they clump, making it easier
to get haze out of your finished beer.  Failing to achieve a good hot break can
cause suspended proteins that can eventually make it all the way to the
keg or bottle. Check your burners and make sure they are ready to perform
well before starting the brew day!

4. Cold Break
It is very important to chill your beer as quickly and sanitary as possible.  The
cold break is your second chance bind those remaining proteins together before
making it to the fermentation vessel.  If your wort starts looking like an egg drop
soup, the cold break is a win.  It is nearly impossible to chill the beer quickly
without a wort chiller.  If you do not know what egg drop soup is, visualize snot.
While you are running your wort chiller, stir to create a whirlpool powerful
enough to see the bottom of your kettle.

I am sure you are asking “what in the hell is he using?”.  My secret to a fast
cold break includes a wort chiller, a floor pump, an under the bed shoe storage
bin, and ice water.  I usually run my wort chiller through an ice bath and
recirculate the ice bath through the chiller.  210 to 70 in a few minutes if
I create a nice whirlpool too.

5.  Filter During Boil
If you are adding hops, use a hop bag!
The deliciousness of the hops will make it into your beer without throwing them
directly in.  When the boil is over, do not squeeze the bag.  Shit will come out like
Play-doh.  Let the bag drip into the kettle and to avoid hop trub squeezing out.  If
you want to get fancy, make a hop spider.  Google it…I also use a bazooka
screen in my boil kettle to serve as a filter for the wort that is exiting to the
fermenter.  I have had good results with just using one of these.  If you want to
spend the money, a false bottom is another option.

6. Irish Moss/Whirfloc
In the last 10-15 minutes of the boil you can add Irish Moss or a Whirfloc
(enhanced irish moss blend) tablet to your boil.  This stuff works like a magnet
and pulls those tannins and proteins to a clump in the center before dropping
to the bottom.  I will not brew without these.  Amazing stuff!

7. Transfer To A Secondary
I think this picture is a great visual as to what you leave behind when transferring
from a primary to a secondary fermenter.  This is not always needed and really is
a matter of preference unless you are dry hopping.  Just make sure you sanitize
everything and create a smooth flowing transfer from one to the other.

8. Add A Clarifying Agent
Gelatin finings are cheap to buy and you can even pick them up from your local
grocery store.  It is collagen based and can be added to a secondary to help
round up those remaining proteins.  Chillguard, Isinglass, and Polyclar are also
great to use.  You can find write ups all over the internet on how to use these.

9. Cold Crash After Racking To A Secondary or Keg
This is not rocket science.  Chill your beer at a minimum of 38 degrees for
about a week after transferring to a secondary or keg.  This will drop more
of those remaining haze contributors.  Do not cold crash it!  

10. Pour With Precision
If you keg, pour off a pint for yourself before serving to your guests.  After the
beer has carbonated and settled another week, more proteins will settle into the
bottom of the keg.  This can usually be drawn out with the first pour.
Drink it…do not throw it out.

Hope this answers some of the questions I've received recently.  Next time
I'll be back with a very special recipe so stay tuned!

Good Brewing and Cheers!
Arny Lands
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