We proudly go on record to state that the majority of our beers are filtered, and we’d like to offer some clarification (pun intended) on this subject.
In it’s simplest terms, filtration removes residual yeast and other by-products of the fermentation process which do not favorably contribute to flavor and cause the beer to appear hazy/murky. (Seen below, our filter “The Starship” performing its appointed duty).
For some purists, filtering is a process that strips beer of flavor, and its essence.
Our reply: “HOGWASH!” (When is the last time you used that word??) We have spent a lot of time comparing our brews pre and post filtration and, while a minute amont of aroma may be lost, the amount is negligible. Further, we add absurd amounts of dry hops to beers that we intend to appeal to olfactory senses (again, when is the last time you’ve used that phrase??) so rest assured, no one will ever be short-changed on aroma whatsoever.
As well, the fear exists that filtering further strips beer of flavor and mouthfeel. Again, our results find the results to be negligible. We should state we do not use extreme filtering media, and most breweries that favor filtering do not either. There are extremes, and you can actually filter a beer to the point where it is sterilized, but this is absolutely unnecessary and we do not come anywhere near to that level of filtration.
Now let’s talk about why we DO filter and why we believe in it so strongly.
A bit of background – when fermentation (“A process produced by adding yeast to wort you’ll recall” – Dr Science, PhD) is complete, the presence of yeast are no longer required and therefore the majority are removed by “crashing” (chilling the freshly fermented liquid to near freezing which causes the micro-organisms to essentially hibernate). They fall from suspension to the bottom of the fermentation vessel, and then are voided ala a bottom valve in that tank.
However, this does not remove all of the yeast (some are really tenacious claiming “squatters rights” and such) as well as other by-products of the fermentation process which all cause the beer to have a hazy appearance. Removing these remnants can only occur via filtration (or crashing the beer for a VERY long time, which is not favorable as many hop flavors will fade).
Dr Science, PhD would like to also inject: “Yeast retain flavors primarily from hop compounds, and their presence in the beer will add bittering, a contribution which may not be welcome”. Well said Dr, now while we Beersmiths are certainly not opposed to bitterness (“If it’s too hoppy, you’re too old” remember?), those bittering flavors yeast may add are not the entended result, often producing a vague bitterness rather than a profile rooted in the citrus, tropical, spicy or other wonderful associations hops bring: the effect is that not filtering beer clouds flavors, rather than enhancing them.
And finally, the appearance of the beer – this is perhaps as important if not more so than anything discussed so far. We Beersmiths derive a great deal of pleasure from the look of a beer, it’s color and clarity bringing an aesthetic enjoyment. That, together with the aroma of a fresh pint, set the stage; the anticipation of drinking said beer.
One notable exception in our portfolio is “JÅN”, a beer we do not filter. This is because JÅN is primarily a wheat beer, and historically wheat beers are noted for their hazy appearance, a by-product of the high protein content of wheat malt (proteins create haze). Who are we to mess with centuries of tradition? (Well, actually we have no problem messing with that sort of thing, but not in this case).
And finally, one last blurb from Dr Science: “Anyone interested in meeting me, I’ll be at the Holiday Inn by the airport all weekend rocking a vintage 3-button silk shirt I used to wear in high school. Alas, the Pinto and it’s notorious back seat I also owned back then are long gone, but I will be staying at the Holiday Inn so problem solved!!”*
*We had to edit out a rather lengthy narration on the type of “soul mate” Dr S seeks, suffice it to say this guy needs to loosen his standards or at the very least be honest about the drawing power of his comb-over, waxed crumb catcher and awkwardly bulging (white) 3-button silk shirt. – Rulpsen