Making Your Beer Crystal Clear

Beer is about a lot more than just a great-tasting beverage.   The fact that a culture has grown up around the joy of making and enjoying fine beer testifies how much beer has become part of how our culture works. The drinking of the beverage is only partially about the taste of the brew itself and very much about where you have your beer, what you drink it out of, how the beer looks in the glass, and who you are drinking it with.  And while you as a homemade beer brewer cannot control many of those factors, you can control the quality and ambiance of the beer you make so it not only tastes great but is visually appealing as well.

If you pour a commercial beer from a bottle or a can, you may not be aware of how much those beer makers put into not just the taste but the effect of other senses have on the beer-drinking experience.  The way the beer pours, the aroma as you pour it, the head that wells up in your mug, and how the beer looks in the glass all are just as important as the taste itself.  The emphasis the big beer producers put on ascetics is so extreme that they even make the sound that the can makes when you “pop a cold one” to be unique because they know that sound alone can prepare you to receive the taste of a great beer drinking experience.

The truth is none of that will change whether the beer itself is of high quality or is good to drink.  But visual appeal matters.  One area of visual appeal that you have some control over when making your own beer at home is clarity.  Clarity simply refers to how the beer looks in the glass.  If you can see through the beer and it is a consistent beige or amber color, that is visually appealing.  But if things are floating around in the beer, even if they are perfectly harmless byproducts of the brewing process, that can diminish how inviting your beer is to enjoy and even diminish how enjoyable the beer is to drink even if the beer itself is of high quality.

A lot of the “stuff” that floats around in beer comes from the yeast that is crucial to the fermentation process that makes beer.  Some yeasts are better than others at settling out of the beer during fermentation.  Another source of visible material in the beer comes from what is referred to as non-microbiological particles or NMPs which are a byproduct of the brewing process.  Again, none of these visible materials are harmful to consume nor do they reduce the value of the beer.  They just look bad and hurt the clarity of the beer which is one way beer is measured for quality.

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