From the HBD Archive
Subject: Finings etc. (in defense of)
Date: 1989-01-19 15:15:31 GMT

A lot of postings have come down on finings lately:

>From: uiucdcs!rayssdb.RAY.COM!iws@hplabs.HP.COM (Ihor W. Slabicky)
>Subject: the all-malt vs. finings
> From: rdg@hpfcmi
> Subject: Fish bladders, seaweed, etc
> Full-Name: Rob Gardner
> The process called fining is a good one to experiment with, but I
> think you'll find that you can make very clear beers without it.
> ...
> In all seriousness though, I would consider
> any fining agent to violate the "all-malt" creed, and its use is only
> to correct faults, and not to be put into your all-malt homebrew.
>I agree with Rob's posting and am surprised to see finings mentioned here.
>I thought that all malt meant just that (and implied the Reinheitsgebot (sp?)
>purity). How much of the gelatin (or other finings) stay in the brew even
>after it percipitates all the yeast? How do the big boys over in Germany
>or even the microbrewers here in USA do it? I'd think you'd want to keep
>that stuff out of your brew.

All-malt brewing is the ideal for most of us, but let's not forget
that other great dictum of homebrewing:

"Relax...Don't worry..." (you know the rest!)

Putting finings in your beer may not be necessary, but there's nothing
immoral about it. For that matter, adding cherries, ginger, blackcurrants,
et cetera to your wort violates the Rheinheitsgebot in a big way. (To say
nothing of chocolate, garlic, hot peppers, or chicken! Yes, it's
been done -- see Papazian's book.) But I wouldn't want to tell anybody that
they aren't allowed to use these ingredients if they want to.

(I'm sure the Rob and Ihor can relax, not worry, etc. with the best of them,
and didn't mean to sound authoritarian. Just wanted to remind everybody that
rules were made to be broken.)

I find that all of my beers except the latest batch clear nicely after a
few weeks, but early batches showed a lot of chill haze. My understanding
is that you can't avoid chill haze unless you a) mash your own and b)
know how to control your mash so as to get rid of the tannin/protein
combination that produces the haze. For my last five batches I've used
polyclar according to Papazian's directions and had no chill haze at
all. (Polyclar is powdered plastic (how impure can you get?). It is
supposed to adsorb tannin molecules and settle out, leaving nothing to
bond to the remaining proteins when the beer is chilled.)

Speaking of additives: The latest batch is an IPA-style ale made loosely
after the CJoHB 'Pallalia' recipe. At 3 weeks it is still undercarbonated
and cloudy, but the flavor and aroma are lovely. I was floored at
bottling time to find a good-sized wolf spider living in the outer
chamber of the one-piece fermentation lock. I carefully set the lock
on the back steps to give the guy a chance to escape, but the bugger
stayed in the lock for 5 days! Eventually I picked it up to see if he
was dead, and he woke up, slithered down the tube and staggered off into
the bushes. Some headache I bet he had. The question is, did he flavor
the beer? If so, can I persuade him to come back for the next batch?

--Tom Olson (

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