They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Saturday 18 May 2013

Cloudy Beer

Many different thoughts about the subject of cloudy beers started racing through my mind whilst I was drinking Un-Human Cannonball last night. It was certainly a cloudy beer, but I knew why it was cloudy, and it was something that didn't bother me at all. I'll come back to that later...

There are quite a few reasons why you get a cloudy glass of the good stuff these days... You can have the most obvious of cloudy beers which would be the Wheat beer, these are fine, I don't mind a nice Weisse every now and again. You can also get a hop haze to your beer, which is completely fine too - just a visual indicator of how many hops went into the brew. There are some beers which get their appearance from fine sediments - these do not go down well with me as I'm a little intolerant to yeast. There's also unfined beers, but I'll leave those for now. Lastly there's that soupy cloudy pint that comes at the end of the barrel, which no one in their right mind would respectably drink, unless they're on a stag night....

This is where the problem lies.

If you're not a beer geek (and let's be fair that's 99% of the population) and you buy a pint that's cloudy for any of the above reasons, 9 times out of 10 the average punter is going to think that it's the end of the barrel and take it back (unless they're ordering a German Wheat beer) I was fine with my cloudy Cannonball, but that's because I knew why it was cloudy and it was good to go. It concerns me to think about others who might not think the same. Hop hazes, unfined beer, slight sediments - these all look like the end of a barrel to most people.

So what can be done? Well let's be fair here. It shouldn't be left up to the barmaid/man to explain to every customer why the beer looks like it does. Let's be realistic, they're not going to explain it to everyone at the end of the day anyway. And if you have a queue at the bar and the people behind see a cloudy pint being served, they may be more inclined to get something else...

Image from a similar post
from Neil here.
'So make everything pin bright then' would be one solution, but that's not realistic either.

I've seen a couple of breweries start labeling their pump clips with 'cautions' and I think this is certainly in the right direction. We need more of it though. It might be a step in the right direction, but it's not enough - It's all about education. It's easy enough to sit in our beer geek bubble and pretend this isn't an issue, but it really is. I can't count the number of times I've seen perfectly acceptable drinks taken back to the bar before, some times even with just a chill haze! Some of them were Belgian and German too, so it's not just a case of British beer!

I'd love a bit more information on a pump clip. As I said before I've got an intolerance for yeasty bits these days, and I've bought too many pints from new breweries where I don't know if it's yeast, hops or wheat in my beer making it opaque. It's up to the breweries at the end of the day though. If you want people to always think your beer is at the end of it's barrel, then that's up to you. And if you don't then you have to do something about it. I tell people about bottle sediments on a daily basis, but maybe I wouldn't have to if there was more information on said bottles...


  1. If a beer's meant to be cloudy, or even just *may* be cloudy, then simply tell the punters before they buy, and there's no problem.

    But don't try to justify cloudy examples of beers that should be crystal clear.

    1. This is the issue.. People wont get told, and even if they complain and bring it back, (and things are explained) it's usually replaced even if it's fine..

  2. A good post, Ghost. I fell "victim" to this very thing last night at a pub in Tunbridge Wells. The place was packed, as there was a mini-beer festival taking place. There was also a live band playing, so it wasn't that easy to make oneself heard, or hear what was being said. I was with a friend at the bar, he ordered one beer, I ordered Notting Hill Amber Ale from Moncada Brewery. It came up cloudy, not soup-like but still cloudy. It wasn't a chill haze, so giving the situation i've just described I was going to give it a try and see what it tasted like, before deciding to ask for it to be changed.

    My friend had other ideas, and after managing to attract the barmaid's attention, pointed out my cloudy pint. She queeried it with the landlady, who after muttering under her breath that there was nothing wrong with the beer and it was supposed to look like that, changed my pint for something else. She also turned the pump-clip round, (full marks for that).

    I didn't think much more about the incident until today, when I looked on Mocada's website and saw that their beers are purposely un-fined. There was quite a lengthy explanation about the bendits of not using finings. Now I can accept this, and the next time I come across one of their beers I know what to expect. However, I didn't know this last night, but I assume that the landlady did. I can forgive her though for not being able to explain the beer was un-fined, given how busy the pub was. I can also understand that not many punters would even know what finings are, or what they do. What I cannot forgive is no warning or indication from the brewery, preferably at point of sale, informing me of this fact.

    The situation could have ended up far worse than it did, all because of a lack of information. If breweries want to sell un-fined beer, and I respect both their right and reasoning for doing so, for heaven's sake please tell us at point of sale! Don't expect us to have to find this out by looking on the company website after returning what was probably a perfectly acceptable pint. This is bad for the brewery, bad for the publican, bad for the customer and bad for the image of cask beer.

    Rant over!!

    1. Thanks for the good, but unfortunately all too familiar tale Paul. I've seen this scenario far too many times, and I completely agree with your comments. There's nothing wrong with a cloudy beer at all! If it's meant to be of course... Just tell us why it's meant to be cloudy, and if it's not meant to be, send it back!

  3. Agreed! Where I've worked in the past, we've always had a policy of briefly telling people why it's cloudy before we pour their pint. I think that more information on pump clips is a good thing, though not always useful in a very crowded pub/for those who don't have their glasses on!