As summertime beers gain more traction and trendy, “northeast-style” IPAs begin to hit store shelves, you might notice more and more beers that look hazy or cloudy. This is in sharp contrast to many beers whose beauty lies in their crystalline appearance. So what makes a beer hazy? More importantly, what’s the point?
Put simply, hazy beers are hazy because the brewers choose not to filter the beer during the brewing process. Some beers are unfiltered yet appear clear because the sediment has naturally fallen out of suspension during brewing. When brewers do filter their beer, it is mostly for aesthetic purposes; they think clear beer looks better, and that’s their choice. So why do some brewers leave the sediment behind, and what’s in it?
Unfiltered wheat beers will appear especially hazy, as wheat has a higher protein content than barley. Don’t worry, none of the hazy particulates in unfiltered beer are harmful; on the contrary, all those vitamins and minerals are good for you!
In some unfiltered beers, you’ll notice that the sediment settles to the bottom. When you see this, it is actually possible to gently pour the beer into a glass and separate the beer from the sediment, leaving a clearer, mostly filtered beer if that’s your thing. There’s no right or wrong way here, just whatever you’re comfortable with.
The only warning I might issue as you explore the wonderful, diverse world of unfiltered beers is to watch out for beers with large chunks of sediment floating in them. These chunks will more resemble the snowflakes in a snowglobe and this is indicative of a VERY old bottle of beer that has actually begun to separate on a molecular level. It is best to steer clear of these; they won’t hurt you but they definitely won’t taste right. Otherwise, get out there and expand your horizons! Cheers!
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