Perception is reality and for many people, clear beer means better beer. If you desire to have brilliantly clear beer but time and gravity aren’t on your side, you can use unflavored gelatin to clear your beer almost overnight. Gelatin has been used as a fining for ages and it works particularly well in a homebrew setting where expensive filtration systems don’t fit in the budget and bright tank capacity is limited. Oh yeah, let’s face it, homebrewers are impatient too!
Using gelatin to clear your beer really couldn’t be easier. You can purchase unflavored gelatin packages at any grocery store or in bulk from homebrew suppliers. The Knox brand or store brands work equally well. Make sure it is unflavored because strawberry gelatin flavors don’t belong in a clean and crisp German Pilsner! The gelatin comes in individual packets that usually amount to about a teaspoon. That amount is perfect for your needs.
In a clean, sanitized and microwave-safe container, such as a Pyrex measuring cup, measure 1 cup of room temperature (@75dF) tap water. If the water is too hot or too cold the gelatin will clump. Add the contents of the gelatin envelope to the cup of water. Cover the cup with plastic wrap to avoid contamination and allow the gelatin to “bloom” for 15 minutes and completely dissolve. Once the gelatin solution is clear, remove the plastic wrap, place the cup in the microwave and heat until the temperature reaches 165dF. For a 1000 watt microwave that’s about 50 seconds. As long as you reach temperatures in excess of 150 you’ll be fine. Do not boil the gelatin as that denatures its effects. You can now add the hot gelatin solution to your carboy, keg or secondary fermentation vessel. You will achieve best results if you add the hot gelatin to cold beer and it’s best to add it to beer that has already been racked away from the yeast. If you plan on harvesting your yeast it is imperative that you do so prior to adding gelatin or any other fining. The rest is just magic. Within 3 days, but usually overnight, the gelatin will capture the suspended particles and pull them to the bottom. You can either rack the now clear beer away from the lees or, if you added the gelatin to a keg, draw the first pint of beer and discard the remaining gelatin and particles. Hard to beat brilliant beer, almost overnight, at a cost of about 25 cents.
I hope this “clears” things up. Happy homebrewing!