When I make a home brew I am one of those guys who wants my beer clear. When I pour it into a glass it is one of the first things I check. And if it is not clear I feel I have messed up in the brewing process somehow. Using Gelatin to Clear Beer is one of my go to methods and it works incredibly well.
I just find that a clear beer not only looks better but gives the impression that it is a better brew and that you did a better job in the brewing process. Now I realize there is a huge movement for cloudy and hazy beers these days and that is all well in good. If you are brewing a NEIPA then you obviously would not want to add gelatin or any other fining agent to your brew.
But if you are shooting for that crystal clear beer that you can see through when you pour it then gelatin is one of the top methods of making that happen.
There are a few methods others you can use to make sure you end up with a clear beer, but I would say that using gelatin is top 3 for me. The first being using whirl flock during the last 10 – 20 minutes of the boil as well as cold crashing the beer before bottling or kegging it.
You can check out the following post if you want to learn more about how to clear your homebrew. I go over 7 proven methods:
OK so in today’s post we are going to talk about only Gelatin and how to use it correctly to get that clear and clean looking homebrew…
But First What Exactly is Gelatin?
Now if you are vegan or have a queasy stomach gelatin will probably not be for you.
I say this and give you plenty of warning because it is actually a derivative of animal collagen. It is made from the actual protein that is taken from the bones, cartilage, skin and even tendons of animals. Then it is processed and turned into its gelatin form.
Now having said this I can virtually guarantee you have eaten it countless times in your life. It is used throughout the food industry. It might surprise you were else it is used. Lots of candies have it in it, many desserts and even make up is manufactured with it. Not to mention most meats in their natural form are also going to have it present.
Now if the thought of drinking that in your homebrew bothers you some let me try and put your mind at ease. The beer you drink that has been cleared with gelatin will not actually have much if any left in it when you go to drink it. This is because like other fining agents and methods it settles out to the bottom of the container, whether that is the fermenter or keg.
So you are not going to actually be consuming it and it really is a great way to get clear, bright homebrew every time.
When Should You Add Gelatin to Your Beer
You can add it into the fermenter or you can put it directly into the keg, either way will work just fine. I’ve done both methods and they both work equally well.
However, 9 times of our 10 I will put into the fermenter instead of the keg.
There are a couple of reasons for this:
- The first is that your home brew needs to be cold for the gelatin to do its magic. So what I like to do is in the middle of cold crashing add the gelatin and then put it back into the fridge for another 24 hours or so.
- The second reason is that if you put it into the fermenter and it does not clear it up as well as you like you can always add it to the keg also and let it go to work for a second time. Whereas if you just add it to the keg from the get go you will not be able to do this second fining.
The big thing to remember about when to add it is to keep in mind that your beer has to be cold. Fridge temperatures. Do not add it to the fermenter and then cold crash as that will not work as well because it will take some time for the brew to get to the correct cold temperature. Either add it after you are done cold crashing or add it halfway through cold crashing (this is the best method).
How Does Gelatin Clear Your Brew?
Well after fermentation is completed the yeast that is still floating around or is in suspension begins to drop to the bottom of the fermenter or flocculate. Obviously with the yeast no longer floating around in the beer it becomes clearer.
This is why people cold crash their homebrew.
By lowering the temperature of the brew over a period of days it speeds up the process of the yeast dropping out. Ideally you should let the cold crashing process happen for a number of days.
However, I am even guilty of not letting it sit for as long as it should. I typically only give it about 2 days, where more time would be ideal. 5 days would be excellent. However, this is where gelatin helps us impatient home brewers out by speeding up the clarifying process significantly.
It speeds up the process by basically grabbing a hold of the particles floating around in your beer and helps them to drop to the bottom of the keg or fermenter much faster.
Which again results in a much clear and clean looking end product, i.e. the beer you pour into your mug.
Now one thing to prepare yourself for and know in advance…
If you decide to put it into your keg that means that you are going to have all of the particles drop to the bottom of the keg, and as you know the liquid pick up line is at the bottom of most kegs. Which of course means the first couple of glasses of beer that you pour will probably be quite cloudy and hazy looking. But after the first couple of glasses you should start to see some very clear beer being poured.
OK onto the good stuff… how do you actually use it?
How to Use Gelatin to Clear Your Beer
OK so after you have cold crashed your beer for about 2 days (remember longer is better) you are ready to add the gelatin.
There are few ways to go about this:
Some will tell you to take 1 cup of water and boil it and then let it cool down on its own to about 150 degrees F. Put a piece of tin foil over it while you wait for it to cool, as this will help prevent bacteria from getting in.
Others will tell you to take 1 cup of water and heat it up in increments in the microwave until you get to the 150 degrees F.
Personally myself I simply use hot tap water and don’t worry about reaching 150 degrees F and it has worked just fine for me. This is Make Beer Easy after all. Always keeping it simple and easy.
So the choice is yours, try them all and see which works better for you.
So now that you have your water ready to go, get your gelatin out. Store bought, unflavored or unscented, standard run-of-the-mill cooking gelatin is what you are looking for. It is called Knox around here and you buy it in the grocery store.
Take 1 tsp per 5 gallons of beer and dissolve it in the cup of water. Make sure your cup and spoon are sanitized.
Now pour the mixture into either your fermenter or keg.
Now cold crash again. You will want to give it at least 2 days to work its magic.
If you are kegging make sure to seal the keg with C02, but do not start carbonating it yet.
If you are adding the gelatin to the fermenter then make sure you put the airlock or some sort of cover back on.
To Wrap it Up
Again I am a huge clear beer freak, so using gelatin simply makes sense to me.
If you want to order some Gelatin, you can order the stuff I use by Clicking Here
But again if you do not like the idea of using it there are other methods to get your homebrew cleared up. And the following link will take you to a post that goes into detail about my other favorite methods to clear home brew:
Also you can check out the following video for more details on Using Gelatin to Clear Beer:
If you have any questions at all then be sure to drop them in the comment section below and I will do my best to help you out.
Big Robb is out.
P.S. For more homebrewing tips, tricks, recipes and training’s be sure to sign up for my newsletter on the side of the blog.