Author Topic: A clarity mystery...  (Read 1898 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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A clarity mystery...
« on: April 25, 2022, 08:46:03 am »
Guys, I have an unusual and rare situation that has to do with me moving and my beer sitting cold for quite a long time.  I made a pilsner in September of last year with a mix of Best Malz and Avangard pilsner malt for the base malt.  Edelweiss hops and Omega 113.  That beer was very clear and I posted a pic in the picture thread.  In early October I made a helles but I must have been out of pilsner malt because my notes tell me it was GW 2-row + Munich 1.  Also Edelweiss hops and the same blob of Omega 113.  Both of these batches had the strike water pH set to 5.5 prior to mashing (something I have been doing for a year or so).  The helles was put on tap on Saturday and was cloudy.  I had just moved the keg so I didn't lose sleep over it.  But I had more on Sunday... cloudy.  The only real difference in the batches was the base malt.  I'm willing to accept that the GW 2-row caused it but why?  Both were mashed using a single-infusion at 150.  Water was the same.  Yeast was the same.  Process was the same.  The GW 2-row was used in other batches that ended up clear.  This keg sat cold and carbed for SIX MONTHS prior to being served.  The "rare" part is that I would have a lager sitting around for that long prior to serving it.  Mysteries like this peeve me because I don't know what to look for to avoid it happening in the future.  Any ideas?  I would think that GW 2-row would be a lower maintenance malt than a German pilsner malt.  Cheers & thanks. 
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline denny

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2022, 08:56:55 am »
There's really no reason pale malt should be "lower maintenance " than Germanm pils malt.  The cloudiness could be due to a higher protein level in the malt, or something like the reused yeast becoming less flocculant. Or something else entirely.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2022, 09:12:37 am »
I meant to say that the flavor of the helles is very good too.  Good flavor, good head formation and stability, etc.  This is not an infection.  On the malt thing, I seem to remember some talk about how protein rests might be more conducive to German malts where American malts are typically better with a single infusion.  That said, I pretty much mash everything the same way and the vast majority of the time I have satisfactory clarity.  Another data point:  The pilsner was made (clear), then the helles was made (cloudy) and then there was a Vienna Lager (clear)... all with the same blob of Omega 113 so pointing at the yeast seems strange.   
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Offline jeffy

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2022, 09:15:50 am »
I made two beers from a sack of Great Western malt that stayed cloudy for a long time.  The only thing they had in common was the malt and the lack of clarity.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2022, 09:20:45 am »
I made two beers from a sack of Great Western malt that stayed cloudy for a long time.  The only thing they had in common was the malt and the lack of clarity.
Interesting.  I should probably go back and look at other beers I made with that malt.  This was probably something I found at Label Peelers or Ritebrew and it was probably priced very attractively.  I had not used GW 2-row in years prior to using it last fall.  If I check the other beers made with it and remember that those beers were NOT brailliantly clear, there could be a connection.  Thanks for the reply.

EDIT:  Around that time I also used the GW 2-row in a pale ale that I remember being less-than-clear, another pale ale that DID end up quite clear and then a "Pub Ale" that was also less-than-clear.  All of these beers would have been between SRM 7 to maybe 10.  All of those beers were fermented with 1056.  Clearly the helles would be more pale.  Could it be a combination of the GW malt and the lower SRM of the beer and there was a pH issue?  My notes on the helles tell me that the mash pH at room temp was 5.51 which would translate to 5.31 (ish) at mash temp.  Slightly high but nothing to worry about, right?
« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 09:34:10 am by Village Taphouse »
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline denny

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2022, 09:31:24 am »
I meant to say that the flavor of the helles is very good too.  Good flavor, good head formation and stability, etc.  This is not an infection.  On the malt thing, I seem to remember some talk about how protein rests might be more conducive to German malts where American malts are typically better with a single infusion.  That said, I pretty much mash everything the same way and the vast majority of the time I have satisfactory clarity.  Another data point:  The pilsner was made (clear), then the helles was made (cloudy) and then there was a Vienna Lager (clear)... all with the same blob of Omega 113 so pointing at the yeast seems strange.   

Ken, you really can't generalize like that.  That's based on old info and just isn't the case any more.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2022, 10:07:12 am »
I made two beers from a sack of Great Western malt that stayed cloudy for a long time.  The only thing they had in common was the malt and the lack of clarity.
Interesting.  I should probably go back and look at other beers I made with that malt.  This was probably something I found at Label Peelers or Ritebrew and it was probably priced very attractively.  I had not used GW 2-row in years prior to using it last fall.  If I check the other beers made with it and remember that those beers were NOT brailliantly clear, there could be a connection.  Thanks for the reply.

EDIT:  Around that time I also used the GW 2-row in a pale ale that I remember being less-than-clear, another pale ale that DID end up quite clear and then a "Pub Ale" that was also less-than-clear.  All of these beers would have been between SRM 7 to maybe 10.  All of those beers were fermented with 1056.  Clearly the helles would be more pale.  Could it be a combination of the GW malt and the lower SRM of the beer and there was a pH issue?  My notes on the helles tell me that the mash pH at room temp was 5.51 which would translate to 5.31 (ish) at mash temp.  Slightly high but nothing to worry about, right?
I made ten gallons each of a Classic American Pilsner (with 25% rice) and a Brown Ale (Maduro recipe)
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2022, 10:39:59 am »
I made ten gallons each of a Classic American Pilsner (with 25% rice) and a Brown Ale (Maduro recipe)
Both had clarity issues?

The only outlier was this one pale ale that was pretty clear. 



If I'm blaming the malt, it's hard to understand how this one came out so clear.  That's GW 2-row and 1056.
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline denny

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2022, 10:43:59 am »
I made ten gallons each of a Classic American Pilsner (with 25% rice) and a Brown Ale (Maduro recipe)
Both had clarity issues?

The only outlier was this one pale ale that was pretty clear. 



If I'm blaming the malt, it's hard to understand how this one came out so clear.  That's GW 2-row and 1056.

Same bag of malt?
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Offline jeffy

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2022, 10:56:50 am »
My CAP and Brown Ale were from the same bag of malt and both had issues with clarity.  I even tried gelatin without much success.  By the time I have gotten to the bottom of the second keg of each they are finally pretty clear.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2022, 11:58:14 am »
Same bag of malt?
Yep.  Just like Jeffy.

I realize that there are parts of brewing that some of us "less scientific" brewers consider "mysterious" and "miraculous" but clarity is honestly the only one that really hits be where it hurts.  On almost every other topic (yeast, water, malt, hops, process, fermentation, etc) I feel pretty confident that I either understand it or else I have a suitable workaround to get the results I want.  Clarity is like the last frontier for me:  I almost always have good clarity but occasionally I have a stubborn one.  I *did* hit this one with a gel solution but even as I was doing that, I knew that something this stubborn (SIX MONTHS IN THE FRIDGE!) was not going to clear.  Someone here must know of a reason or combination of conditions that would line up to cause this.  In my experience (and as Jeffy mentioned), it will get a bit clearer as the keg is consumed.  Also, IME:  You tap a glass one day and glass 1 is cloudy and the beer gets slightly clearer as you go.  Then the next day, glass 1 is really cloudy again and it clears as you tap more.  Is that a clue?  I had some of this helles in a glass late last night and I picked it up and looked at it to see if it was clear as it got closer to room temp.  Yes but not REALLY clear.  I know there is "cloudiness" and there is chill haze.  Also, no other changes made to the process during this time.  I did get a new mill this spring and I'm waiting to see if there is anything unusual about that but last fall my processes were consistent.   
« Last Edit: April 25, 2022, 12:07:10 pm by Village Taphouse »
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline denny

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2022, 12:19:09 pm »
Ken, you're not making this easy! 😉
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2022, 01:14:14 pm »
Ken, you're not making this easy! 😉
I know.  If it was easy I would have had it solved years ago!  I have to assume that it's a combination of things that can happen even though the brewer thinks they're doing everything the same.  A pH issue.  A boil rate issue.  A malt issue or a combination of malts issue.  An SRM issue.  I have absolutely used the same malts and yeast in consecutive batches and had one be clear and one be cloudy.  I pretty much ALWAYS get crystal clear wort going into the fermenter. 
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Offline Bel Air Brewing

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2022, 03:43:29 pm »
It is well known that I am a freak when it comes to clear beer. Nothing hazy here!

A picture perfect Munich Helles is on tap now. It cleared all by itself.

But...most of the time I use gelatin. Within 4 days, the beer will be clear enough to read the ingredients on a soup can label.

Using gelatin, we have always had the beer clear out within a matter of a few days.

I thought I was the only one who was anal about this!
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Offline jeffy

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Re: A clarity mystery...
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2022, 04:16:54 pm »
It is well known that I am a freak when it comes to clear beer. Nothing hazy here!

A picture perfect Munich Helles is on tap now. It cleared all by itself.

But...most of the time I use gelatin. Within 4 days, the beer will be clear enough to read the ingredients on a soup can label.

Using gelatin, we have always had the beer clear out within a matter of a few days.

I thought I was the only one who was anal about this!
I like clear beer as well, but I think this clarity issue had more to do with protein levels in the malt.  I hit the CAP with gelatin and it didn’t clear as much as it usually does.  Both beers made with the same sack of malt had the same lack of clarity.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995