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Cause: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.
Corrective Action: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.
Tip: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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