Beer Clarification: How it’s done and What to Use!

In this article, we will go through the brewing process from start to finish with the main focus being on achieving a crystal clear beer.

Of course, we will go over the points that will affect haziness, discuss the recommended equipment you should use in order to be able to make clearer beer, and what products to use (beer finings).

Without further ado, let’s get started!

How to Produce a clearer Beer

Here are the steps to follow to clarify the beer (to see each one in detail, continue reading below)!

  1. Raw materials: Choose malts with a moderate protein load and avoid adjuncts such as oats or wheat.
  2. In milling, split the grains, do not pulverize them.
  3. Try to achieve a good bed of grains during the mash.
  4. Take advantage of the use of false bottoms.
  5. Sparge for at least one hour.
  6. Boil the wort vigorously.
  7. Cool break and then perform a Whirpool and let it rest.
  8. Choose a high flocculation yeast.
  9. Dry hop only if necessary.
  10. Transfer to a secondary fermenter.
  11. Use different finding agents.
  12. Condition the beer for the necessary amount of time (combined with fining agents).

First: What are the causes of haziness in beer?

To begin with, I will name the most common causes that can add to a hazy beer. What I would like to differentiate are the causes that “we can avoid” directly, such as the selection of the right malt or yeast, the time we allow for conditioning, etc., and the indirect causes, such as poor cleaning and levels of sanitization.

The main indirect causes of haziness have to do with high bacterial load and wild yeast. A high bacterial load will not only prevent good clarification but will completely ruin our beer.

For wild yeasts, unlike the yeast we use to ferment beer which we choose ourselves, we have the problem that we do not choose them or decide when they appear, and beer, unlike wine, does not particularly like wild yeast since it will leave undesirable flavors and, for what concerns us in this article, will have very low flocculation, resulting in a more cloudy or hazy beer. 

Choosing the right Raw Materials

In case one of our objectives is to achieve a crystal clear beer, we have to take into account what raw materials we’re actually using when making our beer, such as the grain type, adjuncts, etc.


The shells of malt grains are full of proteins that are necessary for beer, in fact, we need a balance: High levels of protein will affect the overall yield, while low levels will affect the enzymatic process, making the conversion of starches into sugars more complicated, as well as affect the carbonation in the finished product.

When milling the grains, how much we crush them will be equivalent to the amount of protein that will be released, but I will go into more detail on that a little further down.

Basically, we should look for a malt that is balanced in this respect. The most common percentages of protein values are between 9.5% and 12.5%. For this reason, in recent years the use of maris otter malt, which has a low protein content, has become more prominent.


Hoppy beers have a certain “allowed” haziness to them which is due to the fact that dry hopping naturally makes beer a little hazier.

However, is dry-hopping recommended for home-brewed beers? We will answer this question in its own section, but for the moment we can say that adding hops into the wort/beer after the mash (and its “natural filtering”) will of course affect the overall haziness.

If we want to be strict about it, so that the hop additions do not affect the clarity of the beer, they should always be added before the transfer from the boiling kettle to the fermenter and, obviously, trying to leave as much of the trub in the pot as possible.

In the market, there are a variety of hops with concentrated essential oils which allow additions of fewer grams in exchange for the same or better results in bitterness, flavor, and aroma. The main advantage of this is that we reduce considerably the amount of trub at the bottom of the pot.

This will help us with clarification and will also allow us to get some extra liters.

It’s worth noting that none of these individual tips will tip the scales in one direction or the other on their own, but it’s the combination of these tips with all the other steps that I will lay out in this article that, when combined, make a noticeable difference.


Some adjuncts can also contribute to haziness in different ways.

Wheat, for example, will do so directly since it contains a high level of protein. Oats, on the other hand, will do it in an indirect way, sometimes clogging the mash filters. In any case, we can include it in low proportions.

Beer Brewing

There are certain objectives in brewing that do not involve just one step or one instance. Clarity, for example, is going to be one of these objectives that are affected from the malt used and its milling, all the way to the cold crash.

Grain Milling

Proper milling of the grains is absolutely crucial. For this, it is necessary that the grains are broken but that this does not generate an abundance of powder, since this is one of the main proponents of haziness. 

Among the mills available on the market, there are two distinct options: disc mills and roller mills.

  1. Disc Mill: It is inexpensive, but that is where its advantages end. Despite its widespread use in the brewing field, the reality is that it is a generic grain grinder and therefore not really designed for the beer industry. It fulfills its primary function of grinding, but rather than splitting the grain, it will completely destroy it, generating a lot of powder in the process.

Note: In the case of using this mill, adjust the discs to obtain the least amount of powder possible.

  1. Rollers: These types of mills are intended for brewing beer. Their grinding is homogeneous and only splits the grain. The amount of powder is much less, and they can also be used with a drill, greatly speeding up the process.


When mashing, make sure to stir the grains well so that no lumps form and a good bed of grains is formed.


The most important thing at this stage is the filtering of the grains. Those who have sufficient capital opt for a false bottom, which is the best tool for properly sparging.

It is recommended to not spend any less than one hour on this process. Remember that the liquid output must be constant during the sparge, which means that for this we should use recirculation pumps, which will allow us to automate this process.

If you’re just getting started and brewing in a bag, for example, this part will definitely not be as important.

A tip we can offer when choosing the false bottom is to make sure that it has a johnson mesh.

In this design, since the holes on one side are thinner than the ones on the other side, if a piece of grain gets through it, it will ensure that it makes it all the way through and doesn’t clog the whole false bottom, preventing the flow of liquid.

The Boil

During the boil, it is advisable to aim for a vigorous one, which will favor the coagulation of proteins and tannins so that the fining agents can do their job better and clear beer more effectively.

Also, just before adding the hops, the proteins will be at the top of the wort, and many brewers will remove the foam with a strainer, but it is important to do this before adding the hops, otherwise, you would be taking out hops as well. 

For the boiling stage, we also have a corresponding filtering system. In this case, the bazooka filters are made of a stainless steel mesh adaptable to the internal part of the faucet.

This will allow us to leave behind much of the solid matter as possible that is at the bottom of the kettle once the whirlpool is done.

Cold Break

To achieve a good cold break we will obviously need a wort chiller. Wort chillers are categorized according to batch volume. Let’s look at the options:

Firstly, we have the submersible coils, these are for batches of between 15 and 30 liters at most. If we exceed that amount, the coil alone is no longer viable since it will take too long to cool the wort down.

Up to a volume of 300 liters, we have counterflow chillers (copper and stainless steel) which are very functional, although sometimes a little difficult to sanitize.

In addition to these two, we also have plate chillers, which are used for batches of between 20 and 500 liters in general.

Both counterflow and plate chillers, when used for the proper amounts of beer, will provide very good results. However, achieving a “cold break” is not so easy and sometimes it will be difficult to reach the desired temperature with only one cooling method. For this reason, some brewers choose a double cooling system, combining the options described above.

One method that can work as well, although definitely not the most recommended one, is to make worts a little more concentrated and then, at the end of the boiling process, add previously boiled but now warm/cold water.

This will allow us to gain some time and lower the beer to between 80 and 60 degrees depending on the percentage of water used. Once at this temperature, the cooling systems will be much more efficient at cooling down the wort quickly.


The fermentation stage is, in essence, the most important stage in brewing beer, and special attention must also be paid to it if you want to achieve a clear beer without any haziness.


Flocculation is the term often used to describe the behavior of the yeast as it transforms the wort into beer, and simply refers to the ability of the yeast particles to create a bond with each other, increasing their weight which causes them to drop to the bottom of the fermenter faster.

This is classified as low, medium, and high flocculation depending on the time it takes for the yeast to settle at the bottom of the fermenter. Therefore, if our intention is to achieve the clearest beer possible, the best choice is a high flocculation yeast.

Among the yeasts with this characteristic are Nottingham, s04, Be-256, Belle Saison, s-23, W 34/70, London, CBC1, bry 97, Abbaye, etc.

Fermentation time

The diacetyl rest is often during the first day of maturation in beer. In this instance, which lasts 24 hours, the yeast will reabsorb some compounds and remove some undesirable characteristics from the beer.

During this time we will notice a considerable settling on the bottom of the fermentor of the dead yeast cells, which will increase, obviously, when we cool the beer.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping (adding hops once the beer is already cold) will affect the clarity of our beer.

Here a very important question comes up: Is our Dry hopping convenient?

Here we are not asking if dry hopping, in general, is beneficial, of course, it is, however, when incorporating the hops, at the same time we incorporate oxygen, this oxygen will oxidize the hops, and those aromas will end up being lost, or at least reduced to some extent.

The same goes for clarity. Why would we go through all the effort of adding hops to our beer if the aromas and flavors provided by dry hopping are going to be minimized by oxidation? So, what we recommend is to do the cold additions in a way that allows us to really get the most out of it.

Basically, not allowing the beer to come into contact with oxygen. 


Bottling is very important when trying to obtain a clear beer because if the bottling process is not done properly, a lot of sediment from the fermenter will be introduced into the bottle.

Here are recommendations on how to proceed:

Transfer to a Secondary Fermenter

Once fermentation is finished, it is best to leave behind all the residues produced during fermentation.

Let’s go over the three different cases of how to do it, from most convenient to less:

The most optimal way is to have a conical fermenter since it allows us to purge the yeast and sediments without emptying the fermenter. It is even better if it has a C02 inlet at the top since this lets us keep oxygen out of the picture.

Basically, you won’t need a secondary fermentor if you’re using a conical one.

In the second case, we would transfer the beer from the fermenter to a keg. If there is no C02 inlet, we would use height and a silicone hose to pour the beer into the secondary fermentor. This way, we minimize the amount of oxygen exposure.

Make sure to connect the hose to the G connector and the spunding valve so that the filling is from the bottom upwards. Also here we can introduce gelatine in the bottom so that when the beer is poured on top of it, it gets thoroughly mixed in. But more on this in a second.

In the third case, (the least recommended one) if we have neither a conical fermenter nor a keg in which to rack our beer, we will be forced to use another common plastic fermenter.

In this case, since we are going to have to open the fermenter anyway, we recommend using a siphon with a filter that will help us to keep most of the solid components inside of the fermentor there and not transfer them into the second one.

Perform a “cold crash”

A cold crash is nothing more than a lowering of the temperature of the beer to help the yeast particles and proteins drop to the bottom of the fermentor.

It is advisable to do a cold crash in the primary fermenter for three days, during which time we will have managed to make most of the solids drop to the bottom.

Then transfer the beer to a keg, add the fining agent, and cool again.

Products that can be used to clarify Beer

What is a clarifier or fining agent? How do they work? To make it simple I will say that clarifiers are a kind of “organic magnet”.

They are respectively endowed with the opposite charge of the target particle. For example, if proteins, which are positively charged, are our target, we will use a negatively charged clarifier since they will “attract” each other until they bond, expand in size and coagulate.

As they increase in size and in weight, they will precipitate to the bottom of the vessel, therefore, clarifying the beer.

The most common fining agents are:

Irish moss (negatively charged)

This is a seaweed found on the coasts of Ireland, hence its name. It can also be found under the name of carrageenan, which is its main component and it’s negatively charged.

This fining agent is undoubtedly the most common one among brewers. It is affordable, stable, and provides very good results. In addition, it does not bring with it undesirable flavors or aromas.

Isinglass (Positively charged)

This clarifier has a peculiar origin, as it is found at the end of the digestive tract of some fish.

The target of this fining agent is mainly the yeast in suspension, which is positively charged. The isinglass will cause the yeast to increase in size and then drop to the bottom.

Polycrystalline (negatively charged)

The isinglass (positively charged) will not be effective when other positive particles that form the chill haze are targeted. So, here we opt for polycrystalline.

Gelatin (positively charged)

This is probably the most abundant one that anyone can get. By gelatin we mean the same gelatin sold in supermarkets, the only thing you need to make sure is that it is neutral/natural in taste.

Gelatine will considerably accelerate clarification.

When and how are Clarifiers/Fining agents used?

Having reviewed the types of fining agents and their use purpose, I will now explain when to use them (in what part of the brewing process) and how much of each one to use depending on the amount of beer you’re making.

During the Boil

  • Irish Moss: It is added to the wort 15 minutes before turning off the heat. Its preparation requires a mixture of a little ice water and some grams of Irish Moss, between 2 or 3 g per 20 liters, to be exact. This addition must be accompanied by an effective whirlpool at the end of the boil, in order to form a compact “trub” of yeast and proteins at the bottom of the pot.

During Maturation 

  • Isinglass: The right time to use isinglass is when the beer is still in the first fermenter (remember that at this point it is advisable to have purged the yeast). In this way, all the excess yeast will settle at the bottom. The dilution for 100 liters of beer will be between 5 and 7 grams in one liter of sterilized water. We must be careful not to overdo it with the quantities of this fining agent since it can introduce undesired flavors and aromas.
  • Gelatin: In the same way as isinglass, it acts during maturation. Actually, these two components are very similar, although gelatin is more neutral. The way to use it is to dilute it in a container with water and bring it to a boil, then, once it has cooled down, pour it into the fermenter. The quantity is approximately 8 grams per liter. 

Post-filtration maturation 

  • Polyclar: Polyclar, as it targets the chill haze particles, it is regularly used when: a) the filtering process did not manage to remove them completely, or b) when for some reason we do not want to carry out the filtering at all. The recommended quantities are 24 grams for 20 liters. This figure can be modified according to the results obtained.


At this point, you have probably noticed that clarifying your beer isn’t as simple as just changing one part of the process, but rather requires you to adjust multiple small things which, in the end, will add up.

I did not include the topic of filtering in detail because it deserves its own article. Also, this process is usually very expensive for home brewers, but we will surely deal with this in the future. 

To round out the points we will say that it is convenient to use a roller grinder that only splits the grains and leaves the rest intact.

For mashing, a false bottom with johnson mesh is the most advisable, and remember that recirculation/sparging must be constant and last an hour or more, depending on the clarity of the wort.

It is also important to remember to take the wort to a vigorous boil, and to also use the proper chiller to perform the cold break.

Once the wort has cooled and the Irish moss has been added, perform a whirlpool and let it sit for 15 minutes. Choose a yeast with high flocculation and, if possible, use a conical fermenter so that the yeast can be purged later.

Then transfer to a keg and add gelatin or isinglass (if you bottle directly from the fermenter, don’t worry, you can do it too but the beer may be more cloudy).

Finally, cool as long as necessary to allow as many particles as possible to drop to the bottom of the fermenter.

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