To filter or not to filter, that is the question.

June 15, 2014

To filter or not to filter, that is the question.

Filtering... there has always been great debate among brewers the world over.

Should you filter your beer? This question quite reasonably extends to other brewing fields across the globe but is of course most relevant to beer in this case.

If you're one of us you will no doubt have an opinion on just what is the correct and acceptable process, if you're not you are probably asking who cares and why does it matter. Well it matters for a whole bunch of reasons that I'm going to list in a minute but today, it matters because for the first time in a long time Simon and I are at an impasse. We disagree and someone is inevitably right and the other well... you get the picture.

So i'm always for filtering (commence hate mail now). I believe that filtering,particularly in commercial premises, is essential to presenting your best possible beer. Beer today is judged on its colour, aroma, mouth feel and clarity as well as numerous other criteria. You cannot put your best beer forward without some form of filtering. Not just that but, your beer will actually appear, smell and taste poorer (in my opinion) without it. Clarity to me is key floaties or cloudiness symbolizes a flaw in that beer. Unfiltered beers carry a smell that is common across them all that makes me feel something is wrong and finally most importantly they also carry a common taste again blending them all in someway that is not at all what i'm looking for.

Only a night ago I had a great beer and followed it up with an "unfiltered" beer. While the beer was good that first mouthful presented that flavor that I was dreading and while I did enjoy the beer that enjoyment was reduced.

Of course, the fans of "unfiltered" or cloudy beer will claim its the natural way. Its how its supposed to taste. Who cares what it looks like! That's not important to your enjoyment of beer. Obviously I disagree. I will add that with a lot of work you can clear your beer pretty well without a filter but there's still a chance you'll get a floaty through or goodness knows what else.

Curtsy of our friends at Country brewer. Before and after filtering.

Courtesy of our friends at Country brewer. Before and after filtering.

Why are we having this discussion today? Well while Simon and I agree that in most cases filtering is the thing to do, today we had a problem. Our Ginga Ninja is a very popular product for us and we have a lot of versions.... some cloudy and some clear. What we have found  is that we love the natural colour and cloudy finish. When filtered it comes out almost completely transparent. A debate followed and Simon won this round. Ginga Ninja is officially a traditional unfiltered Ginger Beer.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on clear vs cloudy.