Pop in your details to gain access to your Adnams account.
Forgot your password
Added to your cart
By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on 23/04/13
My hiatus from blogging has been abandoned following a request to explain about finings and the ‘vegetarianness’ of such things. We use isinglass as a fining agent which basically means that the majority of our beers are not suitable for vegetarians, so I thought I’d explain what finings are and why we use them.
We use finings at three stages of the brewing process.
While it may seem odd to us now, there was a time, thankfully long ago, or as my son says ‘in olden times’ (by which he means 6-years ago) when bladders and swim bladders of various animals were used as vessels. We suppose that some clever spark noticed that beer and wine stored in these vessels was clearer.
Using isinglass for beer destined for bottling is not the norm at most breweries but our bottler’s system is set up in such a way that they have to, and as above, even if they didn’t do it as a matter of course there may be occasions where they might need to.
There have been attempts in the past to find a vegetarian alternative and we have trialled a few, but so far we haven’t found one that works for us.
In theory, gravity alone will eventually cause the yeasts to sink. Our particular yeast would require a substantial amount of time for gravity alone to make it all drop out. Some yeast strains will be quicker, although it would still mean a huge increase in the space a pub would need to store their cask beer. The extra time needed for the beer to drop bright would also mean that the beer would have very little time between when it was bright and ready to drink and when the best before date would expire. Of course, some of this extra settling time could be done at the brewery, but again that would necessitate a huge increase in the number of vessels needed.
However, if we still wanted to produce cask beer that actually conditioned in the cask, i.e. still had yeast in it, then we would still need to add some finings, or find a pub that could 'stillage' the cask for an extended period of time.
The other alternative is that we serve the beer cloudy. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this but excess yeast will affect the beer’s flavour, but probably more importantly most people expect it to be bright. There are a few breweries attempting to change the perception of cloudy beer, particularly Moor Brewing but there is some way to go yet.