Using gelatin is a very effective way to clear beer. But what is it, and how does it work?
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin is derived from animal collagen. Now, hold on to your stomachs for a second. Collagen is a protein found in connective tissue like tendons, bones, cartilage, and skin. It’s processed (heated) to form gelatin, which is then purified for use in the food industry.
Now, before you go all PETA on me, keep in mind that collagen is found in many foods – meat (in its natural state), desserts, and candy – as well as cosmetics. But if the idea of an animal-based product in your beer freaks you out, remember that whatever gelatin you add to the beer will settle out completely. Still, if you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan you may want to avoid using gelatin to clear your beer altogether. For the rest of us carnivores, gelatin is perfectly acceptable way to get a bright, clear beer.
How Does Gelatin Work?
When mixed with water, gelatin creates a thin, positively charged solution. When added to the beer, it attracts negatively charged particles – yeast and protein – which clump together. Their collective mass helps them settle to the bottom of the fermenter or keg.
Gelatin works best in combination with other finings, like Irish moss, a fining agent that gets added during the boil. Essentially, Irish moss will help protein coagulate at the end of the boil. Whatever doesn’t settle out in the cold break will then have another opportunity when the gelatin is added at the end of fermentation.
Ready to improve the clarity of your homebrew? Find step-by-step instructions for using gelatin in your homemade beer below:
How to Use Gelatin to Clear Your Beer
About two days before bottling or kegging:
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then allow to cool to about 150˚F or below.
- Measure out the recommended amount of gelatin for the batch size of beer you’re making (typical dosage is 1 tsp. per 5 gallons) and dissolve in the water.
- Pour the gelatin/water mixture into your fermenter and wait two days for the beer to clear. You may wish to cold crash to accelerate clearing.
- Bottle or keg as usual.
Some homebrewers add gelatin directly to the keg or bottle the beer immediately after adding, but personally, I’d rather give it a chance to settle out in the fermenter before bottling or kegging. Either way, gelatin is an effective tool for improving the appearance of your homebrew.
Do you use gelatin to clear your beer? What other techniques do you use to improve beer clarity?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.
No one seems to be able to tell me if I add the finings to the beer thats in a bucket do I stir the whole barrel or just poor it over the top. Please help [email protected] thanks in advance
Duncan, the directions for our gelatin finings tell you to disolve the finings first in hot water. Once dissolved, stir vigorously into the beer and bottle immediately.
This last note you make contradicts the instructions you initially listed – pour in the finings and wait two days. And stirring it vigorously would oxygenate your beer – something else that’s not generally advisable at this stage. To help produce very clear beer, rack the beer out of your fermenter into another. Stir in the prepared finings gently, but thoroughly (avoid sloshing/aerating). Store for a couple days while the finings do their job (refrigerated works best), then rack off beer to bottle. This process gives you the benefits of clarifying with finings, and adds another step of purging sediments that might otherwise end up in your finished beer. Just remember to keep things sanitary.
If gelatin works by attaching to yeast and they both settle at the bottom, will this effect carbonation in the bottle? Will there be enough suspended yeast when I bottle my beer?
I usually stir it in well
Just pour it over the top. Try pouring though a sieve, it make the liquid spread, kinda like a watering can.
Any concerns adding 150 degree gelatin mixture to glass carboy that is chilled to 40 degrees?
Mr. Beer, if the carboy is full of liquid, do not let it run down the glass when adding or it may crack the glass. I would recommend using a funnel. If the carboy is empty when adding it would more than likely crack the glass because of the temperature difference.
I add gelatin after secondary and after cold crashing for a day or two. I heat it to 150 and pour it in. The beer clears in about 2 day and is great. The important parts are cold chilled beer and gelatin in water heated to 150 added to the cold brew.
Has anyone added gelatin to the beer itself vs water?
Every instruction on this process requires the gelatin to be desolved first & this is done by 1 cup of water to a boil then waiting until the water temp is down to 150˚F or below.
I did this the first time. It worked.