Sitting at the airport leaving the National Homebrew Conference, my head was full of potential brewing ideas. The thought of having another beer disgusted me, but recipe formulation, brewing experiments and gadgets consumed my thoughts. Knowing I was coming home to four empty carboys fueled the need to get in the garage and brew. One enzyme kept coming back into memory from the conference, Clarity-ferm. This product is sold by White Labs here in San Diego. While Clarity-ferm stops the protein that causes chill haze, it's also said to lower the levels of gluten in beer.
Mitch Steel, the head brewer at Stone stated at his NHC talk, "We at Stone are very interested at this product for it's Gluten reducing properties." (I scribbled this down at NHC, while drinking so the quote might not be spot on but it's close.) Wanting to know more, I started to research the history of this Clarity-ferm. It started out as Brewers ClareX manufactured by the DSM Corperation. Originally created for reducing chill haze and increasing the shelf life of beers. In a production brewery environment, the use of Silica and PVPP creates a 5-8% beer loss. Switching to Brewers ClareX doesn't create any beer loss during fermentation. A big advantage for production brewing. Adding Brewers ClareX during the start of fermentation also streamlines the brewing process and doesn't require a production brewery to purchase new equipment.
White Labs has repackaged Brewers ClareX into Clarity-Ferm. They don't hide behind this fact. Brewers ClareX was only sold to production breweries, not accessible to homebrewers. So White Labs re-branding this product opened doors for experimentation. If you are concerned with clarity or its gluten reducing claims this might be the product for you to try.
The root of this enzyme is a mutated bacteria. Or otherwise called a GMO. It is sourced from Aspergillus niger, a type of black mold. Pretty common in the food industry. It's considered safe for food products in small doses, (if large amounts of spores are inhaled, it could be deadly but that is not possible in beer brewing).
Brewers ClareX is a pure enzyme containing a proline-specific endo-protease that prevents the formation of chill haze in beer by hydrolyzing the haze-active proteins that cause it. Basically the enzyme works by chopping the haze-active protein into chunks that fall out of solution in the fermenting liquid. If you are looking at this for Gluten reduction, this should concerning, reading reports about its Gluten reducing abilities shows a large reduction or nothing at all. Since the enzyme cuts the haze-active proteins into large chunks of Gluten protein(s) that remain in suspension some people worry that the testing for Gluten will not pick up these chunks since the test are not looking for them to be in suspension. Now this could as simple as letting these chopped proteins fall out of solution by cold crashing the finished beer or carefully racking the clear liquid off the trub, but unfortunately no one knows at this point.
Since this product was developed for professional brewers to use during production for clearing and stabilizing beer for market, the industry is pretty tight lipped on its Gluten reducing qualities. From what I can find the FDA will not allow a beer produced with Gluten to be marked as Gluten free, even if the beer tests under 10 ppm. If it contains any prohibited grain. They can however state it's Gluten Reduced. While I've heard that Omission Beer is produced with this enzyme I can not find proof of this. They state that have a "Proprietary process that removes Gluten, using barley, hops and yeast.". Reading that statement I feel that they are using Brewers ClareX or Clarity-ferm but I can't claim to know for sure since the FDA's site seems to counter their statements about starting off with Barley as a source for the Omission Beers.
What I wanted to do is brew a beer with traditional brewing ingredients and have it tested using a White Labs TK2300 test kit. This kit will test for IBU's, diacetyl, alcohol, gluten, bacteria and wild yeast. (The price varies depending on the tests asked for) You can also get Gluten tests at EZgluten, they sell for around 20 bucks and up. (Please read my update on EZgluten at the bottom of the post) I am thinking about ordering both test just to see the results, as the White Labs is more beer focused and the EZgluten is focused at people who suffer from Celiac issues. (Since this beer was being sent off for testing I wanted to due another experiment that I've been looking at doing for a while. A no boiled hop beer. Only using 1st wort, whirlpool and dry hops. Seeing if the IBU's show up on the report. I'll have more on that later)
Since I am not bothered by the Gluten in general, the reducing claims made by this product are great for an experiment only. I would love to know if this product lowers the levels of Gluten to under the FDA's stated 20ppm. The beer clearing aspect of this product really interests me. I also understand that brewers can make a quality clear beer without any additions or filtering, this just seems like an easy addition to my brewday.
Brewday went smoothly, all my numbers were hit and the beer is sitting at 63-64 degrees right now fermenting away.
Today I talked to White Labs about their tests and other testing products for Gluten. She stated that the other tests on the market can't be used for beer. The alcohol in the product changes the testing parameters resulting in a false or falsely positive test. White labs charges $90.00 for this test. Plus shipping etc. I am local so she gave me a couple viles to fill up with beer. She also wants them still, (no Co2) to do the testing. I am going to put my paypal up and if I can get to $50.00 bucks I will pay for the rest of the testing costs.
She also stated if you want a gluten reduced beer, you need to have this product in solution during active fermentation. If the yeast are not active, it will not work. Also she stated that White Labs is redoing there packaging so better inform homebrewers. Also you need to pitch 2 viles of Clarity-ferm. Pitching one will only result in a low gluten count and clear beer.
|American Pale Ale|
|Type: All Grain||Date: 7/13/2013|
|Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal||Brewer: Chris Lewis|
|Boil Size: 6.86 gal||Asst Brewer:|
|Boil Time: 60 min||Equipment: Lewys Tower|
|End of Boil Volume 6.24 gal||Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %|
|Final Bottling Volume: 6.00 gal||Est Mash Efficiency 72.0 %|
|Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage||Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0|
|Est Original Gravity: 1.059 SG||Measured Original Gravity: 1.058 SG|
|Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG||Measured Final Gravity: TBA|
|Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %||Actual Alcohol by Vol: TBA|
|Bitterness: 35.0 IBUs||Calories: TBA|
|Est Color: 5.7 SRM|
|Mash Name: Temperature Mash, 1 Step, Full Body||Total Grain Weight: 13 lbs 8.0 oz|
|Sparge Water: 4.26 gal||Grain Temperature: 72.0 F|
|Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F||Tun Temperature: 72.0 F|
|Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE||Mash PH: 5.20|
|Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 1 steps (4.26gal) of 168.0 F water|
Carbonation and Storage
|Carbonation Type: Keg||Volumes of CO2: 2.3|
|Pressure/Weight: 10.59 PSI||Carbonation Used: Keg with 10.59 PSI|
|Keg/Bottling Temperature: 41.0 F||Age for: 30.00 days|
|Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage||Storage Temperature: 41.0 F|
|Primary Fermentation: 64 Degrees for 5 days, ramping to 69 over the next 5 days.|
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