Fining / using clearing agents, in our cask beer has always been an issue for us and something we’ve never been comfortable with. When we started the brewery in 2015 all the beer was un-fined and hand bottled. In 2016 when we moved up from a 200 litre kit to 600 litres, we started casking our beers for local pubs. We never really wanted to use finings, but at the time, there was an expectation for cask ale to be clear, and due to the small kit, we needed to turn beer around quickly, so we succumbed.
We don’t mind a beer with a bit of haze and feel crystal clear beers can look overly manufactured or mass produced. All of our ales are dry hopped which in turn, can make a beer hazy. We’ve always used the barest minimum of finings, as we feel it affects the aroma and is therefore counter productive, when adding expensive aromatic hops. If you state a beer contains finings on the cask label and there is a bit of haze, a landlord can be unhappy about it, and rightly so, as they end up having to deal with potentially unhappy customers, who like clear beer.
So we’ve been wanting to cut out this process for sometime now.
Since the pandemic hit all of our beers have been un-fined. Finings have a best before date, so to give our cask ale the longest shelf life possible we stopped using them. We’ve been racking the beers in the brewery for the 3 and 5L beer boxes for the last couple of months, although they have a little haze to them they still look, taste and smell great and we’ve had no complaints from our lovely customers.
They are therefore also vegan friendly.
We’ll see how it goes when the pubs re-open, but for now un-fined is the way forward for us.