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I used to be able to make clear beer... no longer.


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#1 ER Pemberton

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Posted 31 October 2019 - 07:05 PM

I have brought this up before.  I thought it might be the lower intensity boil that the low-O2 suggests and neddles had some similar issues that he thought might be from BTB.  On one of the last batches I made I intentionally made sure that the boil intensity was more vigorous.  I also added a gel solution to that keg assuming that the beer would finally be clear.  It's on tap now and it's cloudy.  There are two constants:  One is that the beer will pour into the glass and you may see what looks like clear beer and then you see a very distinct "cloudy part" of the pour that is visually different from the rest of the pour... almost as if the yeast on the bottom of the keg is not settled or like it's fluffy and cloudy at the bottom.  The other is that the beer is decently clear as the end of the keg is near.  Maybe the last gallon or so will be somewhat clearer.  This does not seem to be chill haze as the beer remains cloudy when the beer is warmer.  You can see a visual layer of yeast at the bottom of the glass when you're done.  WTF is going on here?

 

This has happened now with multiple batches with 1056, 2124 and 2278.  Some of these beers have been more clear than others but nothing reaching what I used to be able to do.



#2 HVB

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 03:44 AM

Spunded or not?
30 minute boil?
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#3 Bklmt2000

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 03:54 AM

A couple of thoughts:

 

- how old are the yeasts (first gen from a smack pack, or repitched slurry)? did the batches ferment normally?

 

- do the beers otherwise taste ok, or do they taste off?

 

- any changes in your area's water profile?

 

- any Biofine on hand?


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#4 Zsasz

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 04:26 AM

does the pour go:

 

clear

cloudy

clear

?

 

if yes what happens if you pour a second pint right after the first?

 

how about this, slowly pour some beer into a bottle and cap it.  stick it in the fridge for a day or two and see if stuff settles out and if you can pour clear beer off the top.  this would tell me that there is hope and that you just need to get stuff to settle out more before you keg.


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#5 ER Pemberton

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 05:49 AM

Not spunded.  I did have issues with spunded beers and going back to force-carbed was for better carb control and also for clarity.  30 minute boils with more vigorous boils in the hope that clarity would improve.  I used to get brilliantly clear 30m boil beers.  The yeast would be from a starter on the first batch and then a repitch from slurry on subsequent batches as I have always done.  No real change from batch 1 to batch 4, 5 or however many I do.  The beer seems to taste okay, generally.  I seem to remember something about cloudiness and polyphenols and also "yeast bite" when there is too much yeast.  This is a fine line but I just wonder if my eyes are telling me something is off with flavor because something is off with clarity.  The beers are not contaminated.  Water profile has been very stable here for years.  20 years to be exact.  Yes I have biofine and I have used it too.  Gel has always worked for me.  On some batches I used gel and then used it again on the same batch and then biofine too... no real help.  The pour can be very sedimented if I haven't tapped a beer from that faucet in days.  That first beer will be ruddy.  The next beer is better but you can actually see the beer go clearish-cloudy-clearish.  It's like the majority of the cloudiness comes out in a blob.  I envision that inside the keg there is cloudy turbulence or something.  Also, generally it's nothing but crystal clear wort that goes into the fermenter and it's been that way for 18 months or so... I worked hard to leave trub behind.  In the old days I could ferment, allow the beer to settle just a bit, transfer to keg, chill, add gel solution and force carb and get crystal clear beer by the second glass.  I thought it was boil intensity but this latest beer was boiled harder.  BTB is being used in the strike water, sparge water and boil at the standard dosing rates that I have always used. 



#6 Zsasz

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 05:51 AM

since your keg isn't clear I'd get some into a bottle like I suggested to see what happens.  maybe you should invest in one of those floating dip tubes?


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#7 Bklmt2000

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 06:08 AM

Another thought or 2:

 

- are you using different grains (say, from a new/different supplier) than you normally use?

 

- any noticeable changes in how well the grains are crushed before mashing?

 

All that said, I'm leaning towards it being a yeast issue. 


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#8 Zsasz

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 06:12 AM

Another thought or 2:

 

- are you using different grains (say, from a new/different supplier) than you normally use?

 

- any noticeable changes in how well the grains are crushed before mashing?

 

All that said, I'm leaning towards it being a yeast issue. 

 

seems like it would be the yeast not compacting or something b/c why else would he see the variation in cloudiness during the pour?  this is the kind of thing I see when I'm pouring right out of the primary prior to kegging.


Edited by Zsasz, 01 November 2019 - 06:13 AM.

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#9 HVB

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 06:26 AM

Interesting if a yeast issue since it was over different strains.  Ken - are you using the trifecta?


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#10 Bklmt2000

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 06:47 AM

Interesting if a yeast issue since it was over different strains.  Ken - are you using the trifecta?

 

The yeast seems to be the culprit IMO, but the reasons are unclear.  It appears a couple of the usual suspects (contamination, wort/mash pH) can probably be ruled out.

 

I agree that it's wierd that different strains are showing the same non-flocculating tendencies.

 

Ken, when's the last time you deep-cleaned your tap lines?


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#11 ER Pemberton

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 06:49 AM

Interesting if a yeast issue since it was over different strains.  Ken - are you using the trifecta?

Yes.  A small amount of SMB + AA + BTB.  Transferring strike water to MT via hi-temp tubing (underletting), using a mash cap, allowing kegs to be purged with natural CO2 from the fermenting, closed-transfer to the keg, chill, gel, force-carb.  This has been the process for most of 2019 and clarity has suffered.  Everything pointed to boil intensity but this last batch conflicts with that.  



#12 Seven

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 07:59 AM

Is it possible that you're only harvesting the least flocculant yeast? Do you swirl up the entire yeast cake before pouring off into your container?


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#13 ER Pemberton

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:10 AM

The yeast seems to be the culprit IMO, but the reasons are unclear.  It appears a couple of the usual suspects (contamination, wort/mash pH) can probably be ruled out.

 

I agree that it's wierd that different strains are showing the same non-flocculating tendencies.

 

Ken, when's the last time you deep-cleaned your tap lines?

Tap lines were cleaned not long ago but it's not a bad thought.  In my experience with "process of elimination", dirty tap lines don't really feel like the issue but it's a thought for sure.

 

 

Is it possible that you're only harvesting the least flocculant yeast? Do you swirl up the entire yeast cake before pouring off into your container?

Yes, after I transfer a beer to the keg I swirl and shake the fermenter and get everything well-mixed together and then send that through a sanitized funnel and into a big flask.

 

Right now there are two beer glasses on my kitchen counter.  One was the glass I drank out of and the other is a glass where I tapped maybe 4-5 ounces knowing that there was going to be some sludge in there.  I poured them both out last night and this morning they both have a thin yeast layer at the bottom.  For the life of me I can't imagine what could be causing this.  I used to take clarity for granted because it used to be so easy for me to achieve.  Drez, do you see anything in the low-O2 processes that could contribute to this?  Should I stop using SMB and/or AA?  Do those ingredients go bad and cause issues?  I have been using this mash cap which is foam board covered with aluminum foil... could something from the foil be reacting with the wort and creating the cloudiness (although the wort going into the fermenter is crystal clear).  I could go back to 60m boils again but honestly... I know I made clear 30m boil beers in the past few years.  The yeast simply doesn't want to drop out.  



#14 pkrone

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:11 AM

Possibly one of my clearest beers yet.  Barke Pils malt,  H17 yeast, gentle whirlpool with very clear wort into the fermenter, spunded 5 days after pitch, floating dip tube, second pull from the keg.

1ad3d4efe263f166b7f770f9e5044265.jpg

 

 

I think the clear wort into the fementer is critical along with a flocculent yeast. 


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#15 ER Pemberton

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:14 AM

Possibly one of my clearest beers yet.  Barke Pils malt,  H17 yeast, gentle whirlpool with very clear wort into the fermenter, spunded 5 days after pitch, floating dip tube, second pull from the keg.

1ad3d4efe263f166b7f770f9e5044265.jpg

 

 

I think the clear wort into the fementer is critical along with a flocculent yeast. 

Nice, Pete.  The latest beers were made with 2278 specifically because it's a high-floccer and because I have been having clarity issues.  The 2278 beers ARE NOT clear.  Something is up and I have no idea what it is.  



#16 Poptop

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:15 AM

https://www.kegworks...ft-beer-system/ Cloudy Beer

Cloudy or hazy beer is unattractive and offputting to say the least. If you wouldn’t want to drink a glass of cloudy beer, why would your customers be any different? If you’re experiencing this problem, try this:

The temperature is not remaining steady. Check your refrigeration unit to ensure that your keg isn’t being exposed to alternating warm and cool temperatures. Never let your keg get above 45ºF.

The beer lines are dirty. For best results, you should clean your beer lines between every new keg, or approximately every 2-3 weeks. For more information, check out “The Basics of Beer Line Cleaning.”

The beer is old. Beer doesn’t stay good forever. Check the expiration date on the keg and/or institute an inventory management system that helps you keep track of your kegs.


............... spit balling........................


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#17 ER Pemberton

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:17 AM

Thanks Mike.  The beer is definitely not old.  The fridges seem to be working normally.  Maybe tonight or tomorrow I'll run some hot Oxi solution through the lines and then either Starsan or Iodophor.  What does that mean... yeast is built up on the inside of the lines and coming off every time I tap a beer?  Seems remote but I'm open to anything at this point.  



#18 Poptop

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:23 AM

I have to say it's a mysterious issue for sure.  Are they all gel'ed?  Perhaps the gelatin is old but I can't imagine that based on the amount of beer you make.  You must go through a bunch of it.


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#19 Bklmt2000

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:30 AM

Since we're doing process of elimination, here's another ?:

 

After the primary, how cold are you cold-crashing your beers and for how long?  Also, it might not be a bad idea to deploy a thermometer and check your lagering/cold-crashing fridge temps.

 

Also, are the primary fermentation temps in range, not overly-high?


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#20 pkrone

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:30 AM

Frustrating for sure, Ken.   It's gotta be a process thing, though.  Maybe consider taking a pic of a wort sample that you're putting in the fermenter and compare its clarity to the finished beer.   If you're getting clear wort into the fermenter and ending up with cloudy beer it's bound to be something downstream from yeast pitch causing the cloudiness. 


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