While enjoying one of your favorite Marshall Brewing Company offerings have you ever noticed the beer is not perfectly clear? The mega breweries are greatly concerned with clarity; therefore they perform multiple steps of filtration and even pasteurization. We at Marshall forgo these steps. We produce an unfiltered, unpasteurized, vegan-friendly product.
Most people are familiar with unfiltered wheat beers, but why are they cloudy? With unfiltered beer, living yeast and proteins remain in the finished product. For example, Hefeweizen is fermented with a unique German ale yeast that does not flocculate and fall out of the beer prior to packaging like most brewers yeast. This produces the wonderful flavor, aroma, mouth feel, and cloudiness associated with the style. Sundown Wheat is moderately cloudy, but for a different reason. The American ale yeast Marshall’s uses for Sundown Wheat mostly falls out before packaging. The extremely small protein particles of oats, malted wheat and barley still present in the finished beer create a haze.
There are other reasons for lack of clarity in our beer. A dry-hopped beer such as Arrowhead Pale Ale has a slight haze. This is due to the tannins derived from the hops attaching to the proteins, forming larger “complexes.” During the dry-hopping process, hops are added directly to the finished beer to enhance aroma. We don’t want our beers to be too cloudy or hazy either, so we do implement cold maturation to aid in removal of excess yeast and sediment.
So, why do we not filter or pasteurize our beer? We believe the benefits of not filtering outweigh the drawbacks. The only drawback seems to be the lack of extreme clarity, while the benefits are numerous.
The first, and most important benefit, is full flavor and aroma. Filtration not only removes larger particles, but also some of the smaller constituents which make up all the fantastic flavors and aromas of beer.
Oxygen pick up is also a major concern during the filtration process. The presence of oxygen is the most damaging factor in degrading beer quality. Actually, the basis of beer staling or aging in general is all oxidation reactions.
By far the most common filtration media is D.E. (diatomaceous earth), the fossilized remains of sea life. Using D.E. produces a non-vegan product. We want to keep our vegetarian and vegan customers happy.
There are different levels of filtration, and with even the roughest or least amount of filtration the yeast is almost entirely or completely removed due to its relatively large size. Yeast has a great many health benefits due to its essential amino acids, B-complex vitamins, chromium, and fiber.
In the end if you do prefer a clearer beer, there is a trick with bottled beer. The beer must be stored for a minimum of a few days cold and undisturbed and you must drink out of a glass. While pouring slowly into your glass, simply leave the last remaining half ounce or so in the bottle. This should provide you with a beer closely resembling a filtered beer, but with most of the benefits of not filtering.
Garrick “The Meat Cleaver” Ritzky