|The word "clarifier" is a bit of a misnomer for these materials we often use to help clean up the look of a beer or to reduce the amount of loose sediment in the bottom of our bottles. The clarification is the result of effectively settling the waste materials that would otherwise be causing cloudiness, possibly tainting the flavor of the beer, and making it difficult to cleanly pour the beer because of a thicker and looser sediment layer in the bottle.
The materials most commonly used for settling in beer are Irish Moss and/or Gelatin. Other agents are occasionally referenced but are generally not as effective or as neutral in their potential impact on the flavor of the beer. All clarifier/settlers work in the same way. They provide a surface which carries an ionic charge opposite that of the charge of the waste material. By coming into contact or in proximity to the waste, the waste is attracted to the surface of the agent and adsorbed to that surface. When enough waste has been adsorbed to make the settler particle heavy it falls out of suspension, carrying with it all of the waste that is stuck to it's surface.
In a light colored beer we consider this action to help in clarification, while in a dark colored beer we think of it as aiding in reduction of sediment. It is of course doing both in all beers, though we can not easily see through the dark beer. Does that mean it is not worth using a clarifier/settler in a dark beer? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! It is always beneficial to settle out as much waste as you can. Less fermentation by-products will always mean a better tasting beer and a beer that has a thinner sediment layer which stays in place when poured... and in any beer you can see through, it will allow a crystal clarity that enhances the aesthetic tremendously.
Irish Moss and Gelatin should probably both be used in every beer. Irish Moss is used and removes waste that is separated from the wort during the boil cycle and keeps it from becoming a challenge later. Gelatin is added and removes waste created during the fermentation period. When the proper amounts of these two agents are used at the appropriate time, the finished beer will benefit greatly. Recommended methods of use may vary greatly depending on the source of information. Talk with us about it and we will explain the proper usage and the reasons behind our methods. REMEMBER, there always has to be a logical and sensible reason for doing anything in a particular way. That understanding is our goal for your brewing!