Sir, step away from the pint!

Hopus beer from Belgium, served with a shot glass of yeast residue.

Neil at Eating isn’t Cheating has been pondering cloudy beer and generating a bit of a brouhaha in the process. We’re quite interested in this discussion because, recently, we’ve seen just evidence of how terrified people are of cloudy beer.

We were in one of our favourite local pubs a few weeks ago when a new cask of something exciting came on. The landlord couldn’t coax a clear pint from it. We were so keen to taste it, however, that we begged him to serve us a half even if it was cloudy.

“It will make you sick. No, I’m not serving you that,” he said.

“It’s only yeast,” we said. “Honestly, we don’t mind.”

“As long as you’ve got plenty of bog roll at home,” he replied. He let us have it but clearly thought we were insane.

All the chaps round the bar agreed. “I wouldn’t drink that. Cloudy beer gives you a gippy gut.” They watched us drink it with appalled looks on their faces. We felt like we were on Jackass.

Of course, the beer tasted fine (if yeasty…) and, no, it didn’t make us ill. Nor did a shot of yeast sediment from a bottle of Hopus in Bruges for that matter.

So, yes, we think those few brewers who decide that they prefer the flavour of a beer without finings will find it’s an uphill struggle to sell it to most British punters. It’s not just a matter of taste: it’s a taboo.

Postcript: we tried the cloudy beer clear, as the brewer intended, a few days later and it was even better.

11 thoughts on “Sir, step away from the pint!”

  1. I suppose if you had what until recently was a typical British diet, a sudden glassful of active yeast might well have given you a jippy gut. The weird national obsession with constipation that our grandparents’ generation had presumably had a reason.

  2. Barm — ah, yes, the obsession with “regularity”….

    Stan — I don’t think most British drinkers would make a distinction between yeast, hop haze or any other type of cloudiness. Anything other than perfectly bright=cloudy=chronic diarhoea and possible death.

    I saw someone return a pint on Saturday because it was hazy (not cloudy) and I’m pretty sure that was just from dry hopping.

  3. Attended a Moor “meet the brewer event” at Cask back in February. Their brewer (I’m sorry – I’ve forgotten his name. American chap – very genial fellow) is a great evangelist for un-fined beer. One of their brews was available unfined that night, and was excellent. It was just a tiny bit hazy, but tasted great. I do so love their beer, I must say.

  4. My view (and this is unscientific, naturally, just my taste experience) is that a cloudy pint of cask beer *is* a bad sign. As a beer comes on, it *usually* signifies a very short time in the cellar – green beer without sufficient condition. Even if there is carbonation, it still means the sediment is in the beer.

    Now my theory – and it remains that – is that the yeast sediment is not bad in and of itself. Plenty of unfiltered, unfined beers prove that yeast in a beer is not necessarily a problem. However, I do think that suspended sediment changes the mouthfeel of the beer (more cloying, thick) and that – depending on the beer – may not be the intention, nor may it be pleasant. Indeed, it is well noted among Belgian beer fans that the taste changes (some like it, some don’t) when you add the sediment from the BC bottle (more on this in a mo).

    At the end of a barrel, if sold slowly, beer will not be on top form in any case. So sediment may be associated with this.

    But the interest – bear with me! – is when you’re drinking from a cask that is on A1, 100% top form only to realise it’s hit the bottom. A fast selling cask. I think it is noticeable that the cloudy beer at this point is *markedly inferior*. And I think this must be due to the *finings themselves rather than the yeast.*

    I think the finings themselves deaden the flavours in beer (which is why, I suspect, having pondered it for a long time, UK BC beers are often dull if you accidentally pour in the sediment while Belgian ones are often not – I suspect fining is more prevalent in UK BC beers).

    My view is that opinion will be split on whether yeast in suspension is good – and this is not just person to person but even beer to beer. But finings themselves appear to be the problem. And that as a given, a cloudy pint *that is meant to be clear* will be worse than a dropped barrel and is not comparable to an unfined beer with a haze.

  5. while all the bog roll myths are just that I do think that most beers taste better without yeast in suspension, German and Belgian wheat beers are an exception to that. For me yeast muddys the flavour profile of the beer , and almost totally obscures malt flavour , it certainly alters the mouthfeel and adds yeast bite often accentuating bitterness.

    There is a worrying trend here and in the states for not fining , or under fining beer , along with massive hop hazes from heavy dry hopping cloudy beer seems to be all the rage. There are people who activly seek out hazy beer. Horses for courses of course but I hope the trend comes back to clarity soon.

  6. Kieran — hello! Agreed. I think it’s (a) daft to be *horrified* by cloudy beer but (b) probably a bit much to consider it the big new thing. If some beer is brewed to be cloudy, grand, we’ll give it a go — it’s another variable to play with.

  7. Is that a De Garre doily? I had a Hopus in Cambrinus but poured it myself and left the yeast in the bottle for later swigging, which I did with most of the bottled beers I had in Bruges. Didn’t do me any harm that I’m aware of.

    Clever of them to make Hopus-branded shot glasses for the yeast though. North Bar in Leeds often do the shot glass on the side.

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