Beet Beer Update: Gunk

August 27, 2009 at 7:37 am

Tom Keith

I’d never thought of beets producing gunk. They do.

The Local Beet Beer wasn’t clearing the way it should. Normally, finings (after using carrageenan in the boil) would take out all the things that might make a beer cloudy.

But these finings had never met up with as formidable an adversary as beet gunk. Sure, they’re fine (no pun) with bringing down proteins from the hot break, cold break, remnants of hop pellets but they’re no match for the almighty beet gunk.

Maybe the gunk came from the beets in the mash. Maybe it came from the added beet juice. I don’t care where it came from. I wanted it out.

So, what to do? As I’ve said previously, there seems to be a lot of pressure on yours truly to make this, at least, a passable beer. Not a beer with little flakes of miscellaneous detritus floating through your glass.

As is often the case, the solution (at least I hope it’ll work) came from my local hardware store – Lemoi (reportedly the oldest store of any kind in Evanston). I walked over there yesterday, and got: 1) a large plastic funnel; 2) a stainless steel coffee filter (very fine mesh); and 3) a short piece of food-safe tubing that fits on the end of the funnel.

So, with James Moody playing in the background (no, James didn’t come over here; I was listening to him as recorded on an old-fashioned cassette tape), I ran the beer through the coffee filter, into, essentially, a tertiary fermenter (big ol’ glass bottle).

But every few minutes I had to stop and clean out the coffee filter.


The tubing on the end of the funnel should have minimized the exposure of the beer to too much oxygen, but I threw in some Polyclar just to be safe (it’s a finely powdered plastic that settles out, taking with it oxidized molecules, tannins, and hopefully not too much color or flavor).

The Local Beet Beer will probably go into bottles next week.

I’ll keep you posted.



  1. Katie says:

    Good god, man. Please let me taste some of your potentially not amazing beet beer. Beer? Fantastic. Beets? Delicious. The combination? Harmonious. Even if it doesn’t work out, it was a laudable attempt. PLEASE LET ME DRINK SOME!!!!

    • Tom Keith says:

      It’s clearing nicely. Into bottles this weekend. I can’t guarantee it, but I may be able to share a bottle with certain special people at The Local Beet dinner (i.e. the ones who suck up to me the most).

      Local Beet Beer. Now Gunk-free.

  2. Katie says:

    Consider this my official suck-up bid.

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