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It is common for fruit and specialty beers to have too much sediment in
the bottle; however, it is not common for most other beer styles. Too much
sediment is often caused by poor racking techniques. Excessive sediment
is more of a cosmetic problem; when non-homebrewing friends see it they
cringe because they think it's something that will harm them. Sediment
is actually yeast that has dropped out of suspension along with other particles
that resulted from the brewing process. Excessive sediment sometimes leads
to cloudy beer because it gets stirred up when transporting or pouring.
Drinking it will not harm you but it's best to try to get as little in
the bottles as possible.
When transferring the beer from primary to secondary, primary to bottling bucket, or secondary to bottling bucket make sure you use the cap on the end of the racking cane. The cap keeps the tube elevated off of the sediment
so less will be transferred with the beer. It also helps to use a racking
tube holding clamp which keeps the tube stationary. If you have to move
the fermenter around before the transfer, give the beer time to settle
before transferring it to the new vessel.
The proper use of one or more of the following clarifying agents
(finings) will also aid in reducing bottle sediment. When used properly,
none of the following finings will add flavor to your beer.
Irish Moss is a type of seaweed that can be added to the
boil. It is manufactured in different forms such as powder, tablets
and dried/crushed. Irish Moss helps drop out some proteins by coagulating
with them during the vigorous boil.
Gelatin is manufactured from animal hooves and helps drop
out yeast and other particles in the fermenter. Use 1/2 tsp for 5 gallons of beer after fermentation is complete. Dissolve the gelatin into 1/2 cup of boiling water, add to beer then wait a day or two before bottling.
Isinglass (fish bladders) helps to drop out yeast after
fermentation is complete.
Polyclar are small plastic beads which attach to yeast
and tannins and drop them out of suspension. Although polyclar works well
for clarification, it has been known to reduce head retention.
Some commercial beers have sediment containing live yeast. You can try to culture the yeast from the bottle. Search the web for guides on yeast culturing.
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