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I'm brewing my first batch of brew and I bottled almost two weeks ago. I've been super anal about keeping everything sterilized, clean, and at the correct temperature during fermentation and bottling. I've "swirled" each beer bottle as recommended by the kit I have and I checked it last night and the beer is still cloudy with small amount of "stuff" (Im' assuming sediment/yeast/etc).

I'm getting ready to finally try it out this weekend for the first real taste test, but I have a few questions:

  • Why is the beer cloudy?
    • What did I do wrong?
  • What is the "stufff" at the bottom of the beer? Yeast? Sediment/etc?
    • Is it still OK to drink with it in there?
  • Should I let it sit for a couple more weeks?

Thanks!

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How long was the beer in the primary fermentor before you bottled? –  baka Dec 10 '10 at 19:15
    
Primary 1 week. Secondary 1 week. Bottles 2 weeks. –  Donn Felker Dec 10 '10 at 21:04
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5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you've never home brewed before or have never opened a bottle of someone's homebrew, I understand this can be disconcerting. But if you really have followed all the instructions on your kit and been careful during your sanitization, then what you have in that bottle is real ale.

Congratulations!!!

Most home brewed ale will not clear up significantly when sitting at room temperature. Now that you have bottled it and given it enough time to carbonate in bottle, I suggest putting a few of those into the fridge. Let them sit undisturbed for a few days to a few weeks (how ever long you can last having to stare at them without drinking them).

When you are finally ready to check, bring one out of the fridge. Gently handle it. Don't upend it. Hold it up to a bright light and see how it looks through that brown bottle. Is the light on the other side easy to distinguish? Or is it still hazy? Is there a nice layer of sediment on the bottom? OK. Now pop that cap off. Did it go 'psht' like a carbonated bottle should? OK. Now pour it gently into a clear glass. Don't pour the last ounce or so. Let the beer set. Does it have a nice head? Is the beer still clear? OK. Now drink it. Does it taste like beer? OK. Congratulations. You have beer.

Seriously though. Don't worry about it. Real beer has yeast in it. Yeast can create haze. They do this until they flocculate (a fancy word that means they clump together and fall down). If the beer is still cloudy (and the style says it shouldn't be) you may notice a slightly yeasty or bready smell or taste. This is OK. It won't hurt you. It just won't win you any ribbons at a competition.

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Well, I just cracked open my first homebrew today and it was GREAT!! Really good stuff. Still cloudy, but tasted really good. I'm going to let a bunch of it sit for a few more weeks in the fridge and then try it then too (if I can wait that long). :) –  Donn Felker Dec 11 '10 at 20:16
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I find 24 hours in the fridge (not the door, too much movement) before serving will help the sediment to congeal at the bottom of the bottle.

Carful pouring will give you a relatively clear result.

This is not ideal for brews best served at room temperature, but excellent for ciders and lagers.

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Brew Strong -- Beer Haze

It could be cloudy due to yeast still in suspension, or from Haze Forming proteins. You didn't necessarily do anything "wrong", but a flocking agent such as irish moss or Whirlfloc would probably increase clarity.

The stuff is trub, leftover particulate matter, and dead or dormant yeast cells. The beer is safe to drink with it in there, but I highly recommend leaving the sediment in the bottle (live yeast get really happy in your intestines). Pour carefully, and you'll only leave a quarter inch or so of beer in the bottle.

The longer it sits, the more stuff will drop out. Also, more will drop out if you chill the beer. After 2 or 3 weeks, you've probably got as much carbonation as you're going to get.

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How did you chill your wort? Long, gradual cooling will not remove as many haze-forming proteins as a quicker temperature drop will.

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Did a quick chill by slowly stirring while in an ice bath in the sink. It cooled in under 10 minutes. –  Donn Felker Dec 11 '10 at 20:15
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Generally speaking, unless you take steps to clarify your beer, like resting the beer in a secondary fermenter, cold crashing it and/or adding clarifying agents, you can expect it to be cloudy. The junk at the bottom is called trub, it's mostly inactivated yeast and proteins, totally safe to drink.

I say drink some now, and save some for a couple weeks. See how the time affects your brew. Also you can let some of it sit at room temp, and some sit at fridge temp. I usually find that lagers and ales improve flavor after sitting in the fridge for about a week.

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