Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gluten Experiment / Naked: Amarillo Pale Ale

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.

Now this is all good and dandy, but as a homebrewer that uses Gelatin or Silica added after fermentation is an 8% beer loss really a big deal?  I don't know, but doing the math on a five gallon batch size equals 640oz of beer.  Eight percent of that is 51oz of beer loss.  (The clarity of homebrew is another subject on its own, so I am avoiding that topic on this post but I love clear beer) So it really depends on what you as a brewer wants to get out of the product.

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.  

UPDATE: (7-17-13)

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. 

Naked: Amarillo
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
Taste Notes:
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 74.1 %
2 lbs Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 2 14.8 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 7.4 %
8.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 4 3.7 %
0.60 oz Summit [17.00 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 5 35.0 IBUs
1.20 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 6 -
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Aroma Steep 5.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Aroma Steep 10.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 9 -
1.20 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Primary 3.0 days) Other 10 -
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
Beer Profile
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 Profile
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
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Saccharification Add 16.88 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 10 min 168.0 F 10 min
Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 1 steps (4.26gal) of 168.0 F water
Mash Notes:
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
Fermentation Notes
Primary Fermentation: 64 Degrees for 5 days, ramping to 69 over the next 5 days. 
Created with BeerSmith



  1. You have a lot of really good stuff here-nice post! I have had mixed results with gelatin, but when it works, it works well. If this product clarifies perfectly, it might change things significantly. I can't say I like the idea of GMOs too much, but I'll certainly be interested in your results.

  2. I don't see anything on the White Labs site about using two vials of ClarityFerm for a gluten-reduced beer. Did you get this from speaking to them directly? I'm actually brewing today, and I have five vials on-hand but was only planning to pitch one when I pitch my yeast.

    1. This was from speaking with them directly. They said they are redesigning the packaging soon.

    2. Cool, thanks for the info! I just pitched about twenty minutes ago (it's a lager, so I had to wait until it got down to 50F), but I'll run out and pitch another.

    3. Just noticed on their website that the new packaging is a 10mL vial, whereas the old ones were 5mL.

  3. I would have to guess that is the new packaging then. Let me know how it goes....

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