The gelatin test – tasting

To follow up on my previous post about the benefits and drawbacks of using gelatin in your brew. For a quick recap, gelatin is a finings, meaning that it is used to remove proteins and some of the “stuff” that is floating in your brew. There is no doubt that it works to clear beer, but now the question is does it impact the flavor of the beer?

For this, I brewed up 10 gallons of ESB and added gelatin to one of the two five gallon carboys during the secondary fermentation. To test the flavor, I have two bottles of this ESB, one with gelatin and one without that I am going to taste head to head. This is what I got:

With gelatin – Clear, off white head, great retention. Aroma is very hoppy with a nice malt stench. There is a smell of rye bread in the nose. The flavor is crisp and intense. There is a lot of bitterness. the flavor leaves quickly and all I am left with is a bitter aftertaste. This is not very sweet at all.

Without gelatin – Color and head are very similar to the other brew, the brew is more cloudy, but it’s not that bad. The flavor is a lot more full in the initial experience but the flavor ends very abruptly. There is a lot of hops, it has almost a grassy flavor. There is a little bit more sweetness in this brew compared to the other.

Conclusion – There was not a lot of difference between the two. The color was a huge advantage to the gelatin as it makes the brew as clear as can be. If you like a commercial level of clarity in your brew and don’t want to wait 6 months for it to clear out on it’s own (it will given time and temp, get as clear as with gelatin), this is not a bad option.

It pretty good news. This is a cool way to make your brew look good and win over some non-believers in homebrew. There was a lot of traub at the bottom of the bottle that had the gelatin in it compared to the one that did not. It stuck to the bottom and didn’t come out when I poured the beer.

Hope that helps anyone considering this method. Cheers!

Categories: Commentary Tags:
  1. Kevin LaVoy
    May 20th, 2008 at 14:30 | #1

    Have you tried using any other finings before? Specifically, irish moss?

    I’ve recently started using it, and I’ve noticed a significant amount of break material in the kettle after I’ve drained. I use whole hops, so they tend to catch it.

    I’d like to try an experiment myself on that, except you can’t really split a batch due to the fact that you add it to the kettle.

  2. Travis
    May 20th, 2008 at 15:27 | #2

    I use Iris moss where possible, but honestly it doesn’t work as well as the gelatin (maybe another experiment!). I use a lot of hop pellets so it’s a problem for me.

  3. Brad Warbiany
    May 23rd, 2008 at 04:40 | #3

    I keg, and just used gelatin for the first time as a keg fining with my recent IPA.

    After 5 days in the keg, it’s clear as hell. Definitely the clearest beer I’ve ever had at this point in the process.

    And it tastes pretty good, too…

  4. CroniX
    June 10th, 2008 at 18:59 | #4

    I have used gelatin on my last batch, gonna try it again today.

    I heard somewhere that you are not supposed to leave the gelatin in the beer for like over 10-20 hours or you might have to put some extra yeast when bottling…

    Also, most people will think your beer tastes better just because looks better.

    There´s something also that you are not supposed to boil the gelatin. However every different site has an explanation. What method did u use to put the gelatin in the beer?

    I usually boil 1 pint of water, wait it to cool to air temp, and then add the gelatin to it, mix a bit, then I poor it in my bottling vessel.

  5. Ted Danyluk
    July 21st, 2008 at 19:11 | #5

    Thanks for including these beers in our swap last month. Overall, I like the one with Gelatin better, because it tastes cleaner as well as looks cleaner. Its brilliantly clear and very attractive!

    The one w/o gelatin is strangely more sweet and smells and tastes a bit funky and much less balanced.

    I really do get a pronounced "bread/cracker" flavor & aroma from this beer. I think the mix of malts is doing interesting things here…rye & a generous portion of biscuit. It's defintely unique and needs some getting used to, at least for my palate. I'd describe it as a more "hearty" English style.

    There is an alcoholic heat coming through that gets in the way, so it may be cool to create a more mild version. With some fine tuning, I think you could be creating a new style all-together. Neat! Thanks.

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