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01-05-2011, 21:01
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In the UK we still have an annoying hang up when it comes to beer, something that goes no further than our shores & something never crosses the mind of the continental beer drinker. This is the search for perfect crystal clarity in beers. In the UK outside of the esoteric beer scene there are lots of regular drinkers who still associate haze in beer with the beer being bad, off or not well made I have to say folks, it's absolute bollocks, infact entirely the opposite is usually* true.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GrpkIBfQhn8/Tb20cSWc3UI/AAAAAAAAAIY/yTiYMb7VuTA/s400/Clarity.jpg (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GrpkIBfQhn8/Tb20cSWc3UI/AAAAAAAAAIY/yTiYMb7VuTA/s1600/Clarity.jpg)This pic was taken by @alcofrolichap on Twitter, the beer on the right is our Diablo IPA & it is dry-hopped quite aptly to hell!
I have been in pubs in close proximity to drinkers who have ordered a beer, the beer hits the bar top the bar staff turn to the till & the beer begins to settle from the bottom up, the punter glances down & waits for their change to be returned. As half of the beer loses it milky appearance they hold the beer aloft & peer through the beer in the glass, & without a moments thought the immortal words trip off the tongue 'this beer is'nt right' 'it MUST be off, its cloudy'.

STOP! Stop right there!

How about taking a sip & taking in the aroma first? You fell into the awful trap of drinking with your eyes! Why? Because you are vain, your car shines, you have 20-20 vision, your windows have just been cleaned & you have HD TV! Bad practice sunshine, stop, stop right there & have a word with yourself!

People in the UK have been conditioned on macro uber filtered, lifeless, hop-less crap for 30 years, beers with incredible gleaming polish & in their mind anything from there on in with a haze is automatically associated with having something wrong with it this is not usually correct. I'm not for one minute saying pin bright beer is a bad thing on the contrary, beer produced to specification with good brewing processes should drop bright. Clarity starts to change when brewers use differing techniques to achieve certain flavours & aromas either through adjuncts like wheat, different yeasts, dry-hopping & non use of finings.

The new wave of intensely dry hopped beers sweeping the UK for example can have a 'hop-haze' when serving in this case this is usually a sign of quality & that the brewer has used an extreme amount of hops for dry hopping in trying to wow you. Smell the beer & you will know instantly if that's the case & appreciate the fact that the brewer is trying to give you an experience with flavour and aroma. Take a sip & forget you can't see your hand on the other side of the glass, the beer is great, enjoy it.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7xeobhVRjYw/Tb3CB-8X7BI/AAAAAAAAAIc/n7D8Rl9-jV0/s400/haze.jpg (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7xeobhVRjYw/Tb3CB-8X7BI/AAAAAAAAAIc/n7D8Rl9-jV0/s1600/haze.jpg)BrewDog pack in the dry hops, it's all about the flavour baby.In europe there are thousands of bars where a customer would be more alarmed if served a crystal clear beer rather than a hazy one, for this kind of drinker it is about FLAVOUR, they have never yearned for the vanity of their beer & they love it all the more as quality, flavour & aroma trump clarity every, single, time!

So as the wheels start to turn ever faster in the hugely exciting UK beer scene & as we as brewers strive to amaze your senses, take the vanity of your beer & put it at the bottom of your list right now! Open your mind, take the mantras of flavour, aroma & quality with you wherever you go & you will be amazed by what you find!

You can read what Justin, the head brewer at Moor Beer Company (http://moorbeer.co.uk/)thinks about clarity in beer here (http://www.beerreviews.co.uk/beer/meet-the-brewer-justin-hawke-moor-beer-company/).

This blog post barely scratches the surface about the science of beer clarity, but I wouldn't want to bore you with pages & pages, the post is intended to create debate & provoke thoughts.

*Occasionally you may find a beer that is hazy & off, or poorly made, taste it, smell it & you will know.


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