Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don't Do This: Bubble Tea Beer

So I'll get the CSA post for the week up soon, I've been strapped for time and all the pictures are still on the camera.

Quick word of advice though: don't use gelatin to fine your beer while it's in a keg.

Bubble Tea Beer

There is a form of sugary-tea-like-beverage originating in Taiwan, now popular throughout East Asia and the West Coast of the US known as Bubble Tea. It's a saccharine sweet milk tea coupled with little round balls of tapioca or cubes of jelly, served on ice in a big cup with a huge straw for sucking up the chewy tapioca balls.

I hate it like poison.

Sorry, but it's just a texture thing. And the major bubble-tea-stomach afterwards. The tea itself is tasty enough though, so I'd often order just that. If I wanted make sure I could still produce insulin, that is. I've only seen one place that makes it in Miami *I admit not looking too hard for it* but I watched as it spread like an itchy rash through my old neighborhood in Seattle, replacing every third store with a brightly colored cafe featuring posters of huge-eyed anime characters exhorting me to give in to chewy deliciousness.

Anyway, back to beer.

In a flash of idiocy I forgot to add whirlfloc tablets when I made the latest Cream Ale a couple months back. It ended up pretty hazy, but was supposed to be crystal clear lawnmower beer. So I figured I would just hit it with some gelatin in the keg. The idea was: gelatin works best if the beer is cold. The beer in the keg is cold. Therefore it will work in the keg. All the proteins and chill-haze will sink to the bottom. I'll pull off a couple pints of crud and voila! Clear yellow beer.

Here's what actually happened.

One packet of gelatin was proofed in about a cup of boiling water. Then it went into the keg. I waited a couple days and pulled off a pint of fairly turbid beer. So far so good. The next day I went to pull off another pint and I only got a slow trickle out of the tap! I check the CO2, fittings, etc. Couldn't figure it out. Then I had an idea. I cranked the reg up to 30 PSI, pulled the tap, and shot a solid plug of gelatin out at high velocity. Gross!

Since then I've been pulling off pints that are increasingly clear, but with occasional chewy floaters. Ewwwwwwwwwww. I have made bubble tea beer. The gelatin is not settling or racking like I'd hoped. At all.

So if you're going to use gelatin to fine (which is just fine, har har) do it in a carboy and rack it off.

Also, if anyone adds tapioca pearls to actual beer, let me know how horrible it turns out to be.


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