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PSA: Whirlfloc-T Usage Instructions, and Some Related Musings

Posted by chino_brews on 10/31/2016 at 12:03:24 PM

 

TL;DR: Add Whirfloc-T directly to your kettle 10 minutes before flameout using a dosage of 0.2 to 0.4 tablets per 5 gallons of clean beer. More may be needed for kettle-soured beers. This applies to Whifloc-T, which is the tablet form of Whirlfloc, and not to any other formulation of Whirfloc.

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There has been some confusion (and disagreement) regarding the usage of Whirfloc-T, especially on when to add it to the boil kettle. I corresponded with Mike Miziorko, the Product Development Manager at BSG Craft (aka Brewers Supply Group), who is answering technical questions for Kerry Brewing Solutions in the U.S.A.

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First of all, there are several different formulations of Whirfloc, including Whirfloc-T and Whirfloc-G. This applies only to Whirfloc-T -- the tablets available at home brew suppliers -- and not to any other formulation.

The issue with Whirfloc is that the active ingredient, kappa-carageenan, needs some time to gelatinze and dissolve in the wort, but will denature over time. How much time depends on a number of factors, especially pH and temperature.

Kerry and BSG recommend adding Whirfloc-T to the kettle with 10 minutes left in the boil. The general recommended dosage rate for home brewers is 0.2 to 0.4 tablets per 5 gallons. I've tweaked my Beersmith ingredient profile for Whirfloc-T to use a rate of 50 mg per liter IIRC. The specific recommended range is 30-80 mg per liter. For low-pH beers, you might need to use up to an entire tablet for 5 gallons. I would consider using 80 mg per L for lagers, and substantially more for kettle-soured beer.

The actual, specific amount needed for any batch will depend on the protein levels and other wort characteristics of the batch. But those levels should be good enough for most home brewing.

Kerry recommends collecting a small sample of each wort after cooling, checking it for clarity, and recording results so that brewers can monitor the effect of changes in raw materials, *e.g.* malt. Not sure how practical or useful this is for *home* brewers unless they purchase malts in bulk and make some beers over and over again.

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The Q & A portion: So here is an imaginary Q & A session I had in my mind.

Q1: But I just throw a tablet in at *n* minutes and I get a great break and my wort is so clear I can actually see unicorns if I peer through the hydrometer sample. You're totally wrong, Chino!

A1: Right on. Then you don't need to listen to me. Just keep on doing what you're doing, brother or sister!

Q2: But the instructions on my pack say to throw it in at (*n* <> 10) minutes! Why should I believe you instead of the printed instructions? After all, it's printed!

A2: Many suppliers repackage larger packages of Whirfloc-T into retail-sized packages, and attach their own instructions. These instructions are often mistakenly taken from other formulations that behave differently in the kettle (especially commercial brew kettles).

Q3: You're wrong. Carageenan can't denature. Everything you said is wrong. You suck!

A3: OK, then. RDWHAHB, dude. No, seriously, you need to have a homebrew or two right now.

Q4: Whirlfloc doesn't matter. I use gelatin fining and cold crashing and my beer is awesome. If you look through my beer all you see is double rainbows, it's so clear. You "clearly" don't know what you're talking about, Chino!

A4: OK, then carry on and ignore me. Brew the way you want to brew, lady.

Of course ... if you want to think about this scientifically, then consider that carageenan is negatively-charged and "gloms onto" positively-charged particles to get you an optimal cold break, while the active ingredient in gelatin (collagen) has a positive charge and is especially good at getting positively-charged proteins to drop out of finished beer. Beer with less particles in it is more stable, especially if you plant to bottle your beer for routine packaging or for shipment to a competition. But do what you want. I'm just yammering here.

Q5: I use Irish Moss. What should I do?

A5: Well, if you want to be scientific then you can try to scale and follow the optimization instructions below. If you don't want to do that, then I'm not sure. But if you've been following the package instructions and those have been working for you, then carry on. If you're not getting clear wort, the scientific principles behind carageenan work the same for Irish Moss.

Q6: (said in a dreamy voice) I could listen to you talk about finings forever, Chino ...

A6: (uncomfortably) Uh, well, if you want to learn more, you can download the Wort and Beer Clarification Manual from Brewers Supply Group. Um, I just remembered I need to be somewhere.

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Kerry provides these optimization instructions:

WHIRLFLOC T OPTIMISATION

1. Prepare solution of Whirlfloc T: Crush 2 – 3 tablets using a mortar and pestle. Disperse 1.0 gram of the crushed tablet in 1 litre of boiling water. Stir the sample for a further 5 minutes. This can be done either by hand or using a magnetic stirrer, again being careful to minimise evaporation. Note: Whirlfloc T does not fully dissolve; this method is sufficient to extract the active components into solution.

2. Dose clear glass bottles with 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12 mls of Whirlfloc solution (1 ml per 200 ml = 5 mg / litre). This is equivalent to 0, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0 g / Hl. If the haze is being determined using a haze meter clear bottles are not necessary.

3. Draw wort near to the end of kettle boil period.

4. Immediately add 200mls wort to each of the pre-dosed bottles.

5. Swirl and allow the hot break to settle for approximately 10 minutes.

6. Cool down, either by leaving overnight or immediately placing the bottles in cold water, or in a refrigerator.

7. Allow the cold wort to clarify. This will only occur if the wort has been cooled to below approximately 25°C.

8. Observe wort clarity and sediment compaction/volume.

INTERPRETATION

Optimum treatment is achieved when the resulting wort is clear with a compact cold break sediment. Typical treatment rates are 30 - 80 mg/litre. This test gives an indication of the optimum dose rate. If the bottles are cooled rapidly the clarity may not be as good as if left to cool overnight, but you will get the same optimum dosage.

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Resources:

Application Information for Whirlfloc-T, published by Kerry Ingredients and Flavors (Cork), Ireland

Wort and Beer Clarification Manual, https://bsgcraftbrewing.com/Resources%5CCraftBrewing%5CPDFs%5CBrewing_Processes_and_Techniques/WortandBeerFiningManual.pdf, last checked 31-Oct-2016

Beer Clarification: How to Brew Crystal Clear Beer, http://learn.kegerator.com/brewing-clear-beer/, last checked 31-Oct-2016



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Tags for this post: Whirlfloc, homebrewing, home brew, beer clarity, clarifying beer, clear beer, cold break, finings, kettle finings

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