The Gelatin Experiment

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Gelatin Experiment

This is the tale of two ESB's. Last brew day we did a 20 gallon batch so both Nick and I had 10 gallons. Coming out of the primary, both were pretty cloudy and lacked any clarity. Having been down this path before, I decided to add gelatin. However, since I had two of the same brews, I figured I would make an experiment out of it!

The idea here was to see if this gelatin stuff really works. For those of you who don't know, there are many who recommend the addition of flavorless gelatin to the secondary or to the keg to allow the beer to clear up. The process is pretty simple, you get some of the flavorless gelatin comes in single use packages. Make up one pack per 5 gallons in a small amount of water (much like priming sugar), let it cool to room temp and add it to the secondary. I have even heard that you can add it to the keg as well (but I've never tried that).

Either way, I decided to give this a head to head and this is what I saw 10 days after the addition:

On the left is the vessel that I added the gelatin to, on the right is the one without. As you can see by the carboy on the left, a lot of the traub that is seen sticking to the bottle is not in the brew anymore and make it clear. One important aspect of this is balance. The gelatin is finings and can have an effect on the flavor of your brew (as it is pulling some of the proteins and what not from the brew). Using this amount has worked for me in the past and I was pleased with the results. The only question I was left with was "does that stuff really make the difference?" and I think this experiment is pretty conclusive.

There are other ways to get similar results like dropping the temp down to the 40's on the brew and giving it a lot of time (this is more safe for the brew to stay in the secondary for a longer time anyway). This is an alternative for anyone that is repulsed by gelatin and what it's made of. Not me though. I am a non-discriminative eater, all animals are fair game on my pallet.


nick said...

have you dug your nose in there, or taken a small sample to check out any aroma or taste differences?

Travis said...

I just racked them over to the keg this weekend. There is a more intense hop flavor in the one with the gelatin that I think is the result of some of the residual sugars being absent. They both were not carbonated, so I am going to do a head to head test in a week to make a decisive review, but from the looks of things, there is a flavor difference.

Joseph said...

Just curious how the head to head test went...