I have been brewing for a while, and have made IMO, very tasty, refreshing IPA's. However, using only gelatin as a fining agent (don't like possible Irish Moss issues, no access to chilling a batch in the warmer seasons), my beer has a degree of cloudiness. Friends are somewhat put off by this issue, but generally like the beer. What would be the result if I could produce a "clear beer"? Better taste? More stabilization of quality over life of the batch? Are these elements of cloudiness a detriment to the final quality? Thanks. Q
IMHO some beers need to be clear (Pils, Kölsch), some can be cloudy (Wheat beers). It's part of the style, just like bitterness or sweetness. For IPA, the BJCP style guide at http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style14.php says mostly clear, but can be a little cloudy.
Cloudiness give a beer a certain "craft" or "homemade" touch. If you like the taste, I would not worry about the cloudiness --- it's homebrewing after all. You could still try to brew a clear one for comparison.
I've never had much success with gelatine finings. It's my understanding it works best when the beer is cold. If it isn't, fining with gelatine can create a protein haze that might not be there otherwise.
Such is my understanding, anyhow, and the few times I've tried it (in the distant, distant past) would seem to confirm it.
Haze, whatever the cause, doesn't bother me unless it imparts off flavors to the beer, or makes it look truly gross. Not long ago, I inadvertently disturbed a keg that had a good deal of coagulated/flocculated (i.e. not microscopic) protein at the bottom. I kicked myself, tried a sip, and decided it didn't taste too bad but looked…beyond unpleasant. Couldn't drink it until it settled down again.
As for anything I'd drink myself: if my guests don't like a slight haze, they can bring their own beer ;-).
I've always used a whirlfloc tablet (last 15min of boil) and a wort chiller and my beer comes out really clear (usually). I find it doesn't impact the beer in any way (whether is clear or cloudy) just, like you said, some people are put off by it.
IMO it's not a big deal unless you are entering your beer in a competition. However if you want to try to clean it up try whirfloc tablets and maybe get a second vessel to transfer to before bottling.