Friday 19 December 2008

Clever to be bright?

It's unusually snowy here. Another 8-12" of snow fell again today. Looks like we'll be skiing right up to Christmas and we'll then get a white one when we get there. Visibility is no further than a block or so and it made me think.

Bright beer: why does it have to be? I don't know when the widespread use of processed fish guts in beer started, but I'm guessing it's a 20th century phenomenon. Earlier drinking beer out of metal tankards was common, maybe even wooden or leather was not unusual. The amount of roast grain was probably greater increasing the natural opacity of the beer and also the carbonated fine particles probably helped to clear the beer a little.

Either way clear beer is a modern phenomenon. Some craft beers are naturally hazy. Both Belgian and Oregonian beers can have a little bit, or even sometimes a lot of murkiness about them. I've drunk many a beer at home that has not quite "got there" but I fancied it. It's my place so I'll drink it cloudy if I want. I have never noticed any ill effects drinking a beer that I know is OK, but just not quite bright. Why then, do we insist on using so much additives just to make bright beer? It is, after all, aesthetic.
Just in case I don't get back to blogger before the 25th, have a good one and peace to you all.


Alistair Reece said...

Interesting post there Dave, shame about whatever mong feels the need to post a load of drivel. Look beautiful up there in Oregon, hardly any snow here in Prague at the moment.

Unknown said...

It's OK Velky Al, the two posts got delaeted quick enough.

It is very beautiful, I'm looking forward to the pass opening tommorow nand getting to ski.

Merry Christmas.

Tandleman said...

Ah. Clear beer. That's a bit like the sparkler argument. You either don't mind your beer being not quite bright, or you do.

I like my beer to be bright, fish guts or not. Bridgeport Brewing's Karl Ockert once told me a name for his not quite beers. Opalescent I think he called them. Karl is a very nice guy. He is wrong on this one. Beer should be bright.

Alistair Reece said...

Trust me to open my mouth, within an hour of typing that comment it started to snow in Prague.

Tim said...

Some beer styles are cloudy as a rule. A prime example of this is Australian Sparkling Ale which loses a lot of its fruitiness if filtered bright. I guess a lot of the issue is market perception. It must be easier to sell clear beer?
Also try using gelatine rather than isinglass, I find it clears a little quicker. Polyclar is good for removing tannin haze as well (just in case your sparge water's pH is too high).

Erlangernick said...

Allright, who's got a photo of Tandleman happily supping a Hefeweizen to post?

Tandleman said...

Me. THat's diferent!

Whorst said...

I too like bright beer. It's part of the presentation. In most cases, if it's not bright, that indicates someone doesn't give a shit. I fine everything with gelatin. Brightness is next to godliness, and you know how holy I am!

Sat In A Pub said...

Like most people I do prefer bright beer, but I'm not too fussed. There are several local (vegan friendly) brewers who don't use animal finings and their beer is fine. So I agree it's all down to aesthetics.

The use of isingalss though goes back a lot further than you might think. If i recall correctly, it began to be used on a large scale in the last 1/4 of the 18th century. Continental brewers relied on sturgeon from the Volga and the Danube. Nearly all British sturgeon meanwhile came from the Trent or the Severn.

Interesting comments about the use of gelatin. Not my area of science but I was told that it only has a fraction of the clearing power of isinglass.

StringersBeer said...

Quite right Mr. Tyson. And for those of us with memories that don't go back to the 1760's here's a (later) reference:

Art of Brewing - 1829?

Rob Sterowski said...

Bright beer looks beautiful, but there is more to good beer than looks.

A slight haze doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the beer at all. Having vegan friends, I'd like them to be able to enjoy draqught real ale too.

It's a different matter if the beer is a thick yeasty soup. Even hefeweizen shouldn't be like that.

Unknown said...

I am corrected. Pliny it would seem mentions swim bladders clearing beer, and that was quite a while ago.

My point is though that clear beer does not mean good beer and neither does hazy beer mean bad beer.