Our take on beer clarity – a case study
How clear (or not clear) a beer is these days seems to be a point of debate among some of the beer community. Up until recently, I didn’t have much skin in the game because all of our beers were unfiltered – so I didn’t have a basis for comparison.
Our beers tasted great, and that’s all I cared about.
Were they hazy? They sure were. Granted, many of our core beers were (and still somewhat are) Belgian beers, but even our Uprising! Series Double IPAs had what is now being called the “New England IPA” look – unfiltered and hazy. Have a look:
There ya go – and mind you these are still among our most popular beers ever.
Coincidence? If you had asked me 2 months ago, I would have said “maybe”. But I’m here to tell you now that the big, juicy, intense hop aroma and flavor that craft beer drinkers are increasingly demanding today is simply not possible when you’re also trying to make your beer brilliantly “brite” or “clear”. And I can say this because I’ve now attempted to do it both ways. Let me explain.
With batch 1 of Ricochet – our West Coast IPA which was previously only available on draft (now also in cans) I chose to use Biofine Clear – a vegan “clarifying agent” that helps clear up a beer’s haze caused by yeast, hop particulate etc. This stuff works like you wouldn’t believe. It took an IPA that gets hit with a ton of hops and made it look like this:
Clarity that would make beer traditionalists’ hearts sing with joy. The thing looks like a pils. Mission accomplished right? Well..
Having tasted the beer halfway through its dry-hopping regiment (Ricochet is double dry hopped), I knew that the Biofine had taken something away from the beer. The nose was a bit muted, and the flavor not as dynamic as I remembered it. The beer was still excellent, and if I didn’t know what it tasted like prior to using Biofine, I might not have cared. But I did know, and I did care.
So the second time through, with the exact same beer, I left all of that hop goodness in there – understanding that the resulting beer would not be nearly as clear as batch 1 – but also not really giving a shit. The result:
And, because I love this picture:
Anyone notice a difference? Yea, exactly. And the difference doesn’t stop with what your eyes can see. This beer is exactly as I remembered when I tried it halfway through dry hopping the first time around. Huge mango flavor and aroma, smooth as silk and eminently poundable.
So, suffice it to say that we’ll be sticking with the “raw” approach from now on.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with brewers who choose to filter / Biofine / or give their beers extended cold aging time in order to produce a more “brite” finished beer – it’s just not for us, and I firmly believe our fans agree.
That’s where I stand.
What about you guys? We’d love to hear your feedback. Help us ensure that our suspicions are true.
Batch 2 just left the brewery yesterday heading for Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass – if you haven’t already, join our mailing list below where I send out updates on where you can find each batch we make (you can also respond directly to me with any thoughts/reviews of the beer itself, as mentioned above). Seriously it’s way easier for us to share our sales info this way – get to it.
Hope everyone enjoys Batch 2 and beyond!