The Snow Globe effect
The Snow Globe Effect.
We are aware that our latest DIPA, Unfurling of the Hooks and previously Too Many Opinions has been pouring with sediment in the can and we are gutted to say the least. We have our research ongoing and we think we have an understanding of why it’s happening but not a solution from stopping it happening that doesn’t involve a further 4 re-brews.
We feel we should explain the situation and reassure people who have purchased the beer that it is fine to drink and if poured carefully, is in our opinion a really great beer.
We performed some very scientific tests in the brewery. By cracking six cans that had been in the cold store for the weekend and pouring them carefully we had a pin bright beer with little to no sediment in the glass and the beer tasted wonderful. With some agitation and a vigorous pour we had a murkier beer with a very different flavour profile and much more astringent bitterness. Still fine but not as good as the carefully poured version.
What’s good to keep in mind is that this beer isn’t a New England DIPA, it’s much more of a West Coast Beer. With that in mind we brewed the beer differently and cellared the beer differently but then dry hopped the beer as we would our usual NE Styles.
Post fermentation and dry hopping we then pass the beer through our very new to us centrifuge on it’s way to the brite tank before packaging. During and immediately after this process the beer looks perfect with a slight haze, we’re excited to release it and everything is fine. But after around a week to two weeks in the package we start to see the sediment or ‘floaties’ in the beer and our hearts sink a little as although the beer tastes cracking we want it to be stable in appearance also.
We are not alone in experiencing this phenomenon and with a combination of reaching out to very well established industry colleagues, professional laboratory advice and our own thorough research and analysis we believe we understand what is happening and have a plan of action for future iterations of said ‘west coast’ style beers.
With our cleaner, more bitter and drier beers we deliberately use our centrifuge to clarify them considerably more than our New England offerings. We now believe that the centrifuge is managing to draw proteins out of solution due to the extreme forces exerted, but not remove entirely from the beer. This initially doesn’t alter the appearance of the beer in any way. Once packaged we believe these now unstable proteins are then binding to hop polyphenols that have been introduced on both the hot and cold side and that haven’t been removed either. This binding shows itself as clumps, flakes and sometimes a very powdery substance that at first glance appears to be yeast. On analysis however there is little to no yeast in our packaged beers, and this sediment is as deduced, protein and hop polyphenols.
Right, so the solution is easy right? Just make sure you remove excess protein and polyphenols from the beer pre pack. Easy peasy. Well guess what, as with everything in brewing, at first glance things seem obvious but you scratch the surface and find a whole warren’s worth of avenues to explore. This is why we love doing what we do. This is why there have been many sleepless nights since 2014!
When looking at this problem it’s important to start the search for causes/solutions upstream. With this in mind it’s impossible to travel any further upstream than the ingredients themselves, and after looking at our base malt specifications (Total Nitrogens specifically) for 2020 and finding that they have all been falling within range we have moved away from the idea that the malts are the issue. Hops contain polyphenols, fact. We love hops, fact. Our New England IPA’s don’t have this issue and they are loaded with proteins and polyphenols to the max! We have developed processes that ensure these beers are as stable as possible for a style of beer that is inherently unstable. So we now believe it is our apparently inefficient attempts to remove proteins from our ‘westies’ that is the issue. By trying to create clearer hop driven and cleaner beers but not quite managing the ‘clearer’ bit we have settled in a window where this problem rears its ugly head.
First port of call is to do a better job of optimising our kettle finings and this is what we will be pursuing with our next iteration. We need to have a better ‘cold break’ formation in FV which we can then successfully remove from the cone prior to dry hopping. We’re happy if we have a haze in our westies as long as it’s a hop haze.
If this doesn’t solve the issue we will move on to new approaches designed to remove the proteins in FV. This could be by using a vegan fining agent at the tail end of fermentation to encourage flocculation and brightness. We would then remove this sedimentation and dryhop/centrifuge as usual.
If this still proves unsuccessful we could look at utilising both optimisations outlined above but before dry hopping we could run the beer through the centrifuge into a clean and purged tank loaded with dry hops. That way we could ensure a pin bright and concise beer hitting the hops in peak condition. Rouse as usual and centrifuge for a second time into BBT.
The final solution if everything else fails is to purchase and instal a lenticular filter post centrifuge that would then guarantee a set level of turbidity in the pack that avoids any further protein precipitation.
As ever at Verdant we want to improve and we know our customer base loves to see us constantly striving for perfection. We get a great amount of support for brewing an ever broadening spectrum of styles (styles that we adore) and we will continue to keep brewing west coast IPA’s over and over again until we believe they square up to any that are produced in the world. What we ask is that you join the journey with us, don’t expect perfection straight off the bat, be patient and pour that can gently and straight out of the fridge.
Please take a look at the pictures here and you can see what we mean by pouring gently. Rest assured that we aren’t sitting on our laurels, and we hope that this blog post has helped to both explain and reassure in equal measure.