Envision it: After a long hard days work out in the hot sun, you get home and crack open a nice cold can of our 1862 Ale to enjoy whilst sitting outside on a patio. You prop your feet up and recline in your chair, taking the first sip of this clean and crisp german inspired, american influenced Kölsch. Trying to fully amplify the aromatic qualities of the beer, you go inside and decide pour it into your pint glass. You look at the glorious white head that is forming and start to appreciate the light yellow-gold color, but that’s when you notice them….floaties….bits, almost like dark snowflakes floating in your delicious beer. This is not very appetizing.
We agree with you.
This is not the way we want to present our product. We want you to be able to enjoy every aspect of our beer, not just the flavors and aromas. Although this sediment does not affect the flavor of the beer, the unattractive appearance is not up to the standards that we hold ourselves to.
Over the past few weeks, some of you have come to us with questions and concerns regarding these “floaties,” so in an attempt to shine a light on the topic we have decided to answer a few of the more commonly asked questions, as well as letting you know what we are doing to aid in the elimination of any future particulate in our cans.
What is this sediment made of?
We have found that the sediment is mainly composed of yeast with small traces of protein and hop particulate. None of these things are harmful nor do they change the flavor of the product.
Where does it come from?
YEAST: These wonderful little creatures are what makes beer…well…beer. Every strain of yeast has its own personality, and is better at some things than others. Our Kölsch yeast is great at making a crisp beer with minimal production of off aromas or flavors. It is great at fermenting almost all the sugars we give it to eat. What it is not the greatest at is flocculating. Flocculation occurs when yeast cells bind to one another to make larger particles that drop out of the beer and settle at the bottom of a tank.
PROTEIN: 1862 Ale has a malt bill that includes grains with more protein than most of the other beers in our arsenal. This, along with the generous dose of hops that go into it, makes for a great opportunity for tannins from the hops and proteins from the malts to react and form insoluble products.
HOP PARTICLES: With great hop aroma comes a great amount of hops in the beer. That also means a great amount that must be taken out of the beer. Like most breweries we use hop pellets as our hop product of choice. These pellets, when introduced into the beer, break apart into very tiny particles that impart their flavor and aroma into the beer. The tiny particles typically will fall out of solution with the yeast and proteins when we chill the beer down, however we are seeing that there are still some remaining.
What are we doing about it?
Like many craft breweries, we rely solely on cold temperatures and natural clarifying agents to clarify our beer. Since we are not using any true beer filtration system (we feel it can take away some of the subtle notes of our beers that we enjoy), we must rely on other means to make a crystal clear beer. These can include various clarifying additives used throughout the process that can aid in dropping out these unwanted sediment products.
We currently use a clarifying agent called WhirlFloc in the brewhouse to take out proteins from the wort (unfermented beer) before entering the fermenter. We are looking more closely at the amount we are using to make sure it is adequate for the amount of protein we are looking to remove.
We are letting our beer condition longer at low temperatures to hopefully get more yeast to fall out of solution, thus not showing up in the cans. We are also testing more clarifying agents like Biofine which is a collagen that attracts yeast cells like magnets do to speed up sedimentation process. With more yeast cells floccing out of solution, we should be removing more hop particles as well.
There are other “fool-proof” additives that could be added but we are trying to stay as natural and traditionally true as we can. Rest assured, we won’t be adding anything to our beer that changes the integrity or flavors that you love.
We are working hard to provide you the quality product that you love and deserve and we appreciate all of the feedback that you have given us, both positive and negative. Although we strive to give you a perfect product every time, there are some things that can happen to the beer after it leaves our hands and we rely on you, our supporters, to let us know when there might be an opportunity for improvement.
-The Land Grant Brew Team