I've heard a lot of folks complaining about the use of finings in beer & one in particular claimed that commercial brewers stopped using finings once they had to start listing ingredients on the label of the product.

Is it just isinglass that puts people off? Gelatin too? Why?

  • 2
    I would like to note that my roommate, who is majoring in Food Science, says that the FDA doesn't regulate beer, that's the ATF. So, the breweries don't have to label beer ingredients. A lot do just out of pride though. (Saying that they they use certain hops, grain, etc.)
    – fire.eagle
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 6:44
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    Seconded on the pride issue. I think the truth is that commercial breweries can afford to employ fancy filtering equipment that produce the same results as finings without adding anything to the brew. Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 6:44
  • Three answers and no upvotes seems harsh.
    – Poshpaws
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 23:56
  • @fire.eagle FWIW I'm in Australia, where neither the FDA or ATF regulate :) Please excuse my international ignorance! Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 6:46
  • @C4H5As Ah. Pardon my American "assume no other countries exist but me" viewpoint. :P
    – fire.eagle
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 13:22

3 Answers 3


Fining are wonderful, especially on a home brew scale.

The majority of them are just organic material, and I don't any reason a normal omnivore would worry. If you refuse to drink beer with isinglass, you shouldn't be eating fish sauce or Worcestershire either:D

Some finings like polyclar are plastics, and not FDA approved for consumption. The idea is that they filter this stuff out before they package. These finings are perfectly safe if used correctly, but I can see how plastic in your beer and kidneys could be off-putting.


Gelatin may bother vegetarians, since it is an animal product -- made of from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. Isinglass would have the same problems. Other than that, your question is a bit difficult to answer. What were the specific complaints?


If you can get away with unfined and unfiltered and you don't care too much about appearance, quite often the result is fantastic on the flavor end of things. Just like with wine, in the beer world there are people who don't mind cloudiness if they get all the good flavors they want from a beer. With my wine and with my beer, I prefer to go the unfined/unfiltered route if at all possible. The problem is that the masses sometimes find a cloudy beer suspect and won't give it the attention it deserves. So many commercial brewers will fine or filter.

That's the beauty of homebrewing-- brew what you like to drink, not what you like to see... because appearance really doesn't matter in terms of how a beer tastes.

As far as safety goes, there's nothing wrong with most commercially-available fining agents. IF you're not vegetarian, then there's nothing there that will offend. Most are non-chemical and derived from animal parts. I like BioFine.

I've seen an awful lot of vegetarians taking jello shots and not complaining about the poor horse that provided the gelatin. I always find that funny. Isinglass is fish-derived, so pescatarians don't have to worry ;)

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    I disagree. Firstly color and clarity play a huge role in how beer is perceived. In "Beer: Tap Into the art and science of brewing" Dr. Bamforth makes this point several times. Jamil Z. of the the BJCP and brewing network makes note as well. Secondly, cloudiness in beer can indicate polyphenols, yeast, etc. in suspension, these components have a big effect on how a beer tastes. Yeast make beer taste bready to me, not to mention they are coated in hop oils that will make a yeasty IPA taste more bitter. Other hazy factors like phenols can add an acrid burnt taste if left in suspension.
    – dana
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 20:10
  • Dana, Juanote's point is that cloudiness doesn't necessarily HAVE TO be a problem IF the taste is OK. I don't think your comment addresses that.
    – geotheory
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 6:53

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