Hazed but Confused? Ask BSI
The appearance of a beer, among other characteristics, is standard when defining a beer’s style. Combined with aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel, these factors form the basis for the sensory analysis of any style of beer, especially a hazy one. The appearance of a beer style can be defined by the intensity and shade of its color as well as its turbidity ranging from brilliantly clear to totally opaque. In this blog, we will be discussing some yeast strains that promote “haze” in your beer and asking, is haze desirable in beer and how does beer become hazy?
Before we can begin answering these questions, we must first find some clarity as to what styles of beers are typically acceptable on the higher end of the haze. Traditionally, the most obvious examples of hazier beers are those which incorporate larger portions of wheat in the grist. There are, in fact, many styles of beers that welcome the appearance of haze. Among them are the Hefeweizen, New England-style IPA (NEIPA), Witbier, a fresh Kellerbier, and a variety of Franco-Belgian ales. Haze is widely accepted in the appearance of many beer styles. But let us consider now how to achieve haze, whether attributed to the ingredients for brewing or during the process of brewing.
Why certain beers are Hazy?
There are many reasons why a beer can appear or become hazy. Depending on the style, the intensity of the haziness can appear low and misty becoming foggier or completely opaque. The effect is most often caused by particulates (the byproducts of ingredients) that are suspended in the beer which, in the case of any given style, may or may not be filtrated for the desired senses. These particulates can be one or more of the following: proteins, polyphenols from hops, and yeast. The quantity and density of these particulates determines the visible effect of haze and can do so without a perceived effect on the desired flavor. According to Josh Weikert from Craft Beer & Brewing, “Haze can also be caused by the presence of bacteria, though in that case there’s virtually no chance that there isn’t a noticeable flavor impact.” These off-flavors may include: diacetyl, sulfur, or a sharp sourness.
Proteins are byproduct of using wheat in brewing. Large doses of wheat will produce high levels of proteins that will remain suspended in a finished beer more so than just barley alone. In fact, unmalted wheat, compared to barley, is far more likely to impart haze to your beer. A popular hazy beer style is the Milkshake IPA. Here we see the advantages of malted wheat in conjunction with flavorful hops. BSI recommends using A-18 or Barbarian, two strains that have often been seen used as a blend. These strains enhance malt and hop profiles, finish fairly sweet, and are major ester producers. They are also first choice for English Pale Ales, second choice for Stout Ales, and are widely used for modern NEIPAs. Though, if it is the haze you seek, consider adding flaked wheat, oats, or flaked barley. These additions are also said to aid in head retention. It also impart a creaminess that American IPA lovers can’t seem to wrap their head around.
Hops are another major ingredient that can contribute to a hazy beer. Low alpha acid and aroma hops used during the boil, as well as if dry hopping, will increase the level of polyphenols. According to Wiekert, “Hops impart polyphenols, which can be visible in beer and, given the right type and amount of hops (low alpha-acid and/or aromatic hops, and lots of them), might add a touch of haze to the beer.” Hop polyphenols in conjunction with the residual proteins from a wheat grist will cluster in cold temperatures forming a colloidal haze. Chill haze, as it is often called, can be both a pro and con, depending on the beer style. Chilling a beer to 32℉ causes the proteins in the beer to come out of solution. In turn, the polyphenols and proteins cluster creating a visible fog in the beer that obscures light as it passes through.
Hazy Beer Yeast Strains
In order to achieve haze in your beer with the use of yeast, it is often important that you use low-flocculating strains. In other words, strains that remain suspended in the beer, even after the fermentation process. Here at BSI, we offer many yeast strains that will help you on your hunt for the haze! We have many tools to help you find the strain you need. By visiting https://brewingscience.com/ you can access and download our simple Yeast Guide. You may also access and download our entire Yeast Library of nearly 300 strains.
BSI carries a number of Weizen and Hefeweizen strains that impart the traditional clove and banana flavors, while promoting the hazy appearance. One example is W-68 German Weizen yeast. There are also useful low flocculating strains from France and Belgium great for brewing Saisons and Witbiers that all promote the desired haziness. One of a few Saison strains in the library, BSI-565, which originates in Belgium produces earthy, peppery, and spicy notes. For Witbiers, B-44, which came from Pierre Celis, is known for its slight phenol production and tartness. Traditionally, wheat beers are brewed with low-flocculating yeast and are served after rousing the yeast for a desired effect.
Haziness in beer can be a beautiful thing, depending on the style of beer of course. With the correct usage of particular yeast strains, a wheat-centric grist, and the right hop additions, you are all set to brew an excellent hazy beer.
“Beer Judge Certification Program: 2021 Style Guidelines”, 2021.
“Brewers Association: 2022 Beer Style Guidelines”, Feb. 19, 2022.
Bonger, Jamie. “Brewer’s Perspective: New England-Style IPAs” Craft Beer & Brewing, Mar 29, 2017.
Fisher, Neil. “Unlock the Secrets of New England-Style IPAs” Craft Beer & Brewing, Feb 17, 2017.
Weikert, Josh. “A Hazy Shade” Craft Beer & Brewing, Aug 30, 2017.
“What Makes A Beer Hazy?” allagash.com, Sept. 12, 2019.
By David Pritchard