View Full Version : Why is clear better?

05-22-2013, 10:38 AM
I just read a post from someone trying to clear something, and it struck me as fairly odd that there is such a preference for clear beverages over cloudy ones. Anyone have an idea why that is? I'm not claiming to be exempt from the preference -- given a choice I'd take clear over cloudy too -- but why? Where does that come from? Some of the best drinks I've ever tasted have been far from clear, and yet the ideal persists. Just wondering what other people here think about it.

Marshmallow Blue
05-22-2013, 11:09 AM
I think it roots are in commercialism. It's there on the shelf that you are competing directly for "eye time" with other products which may be better or worse than your own. But it doesn't matter. They only have to look the best, and clarity is a big part of that in beverages I believe. I'm sure that it goes back further than that as well. but in today's day and age, clearer is better. Would you rather clear diamonds or cloudy diamonds?

Anyways; I'll go off on a mini-rant lightly related to clearing. Its general that when its clear, its "ready" to bottle and drink. But I think some of the newer mead-makers have taken to using clearing agents so that their mead is "done" faster. But that is wrong and those meads still need to age to improve. Let time clear it and you will have gotten the extra age in at the same time. Clearing agents in my mind should only be used to make an already cleared mead exceptionally clear, or to clear a mead that has an issue clearing with time alone.

05-22-2013, 12:36 PM
Tej isn't clear.

05-22-2013, 01:07 PM
Tej isn't clear.
That would tend to support Marshmallow Blue's hypothesis. Tej isn't generally sold commercially.

Heck, the preference for clear drinking liquids may even go back prehistoric times: A fast, clear-running stream would be safer to drink from than a muddy bog. But I think that the connection between clear and good/better taste is strongly engrained whether it holds true or not.


05-22-2013, 01:09 PM
TheAlchemist, I'm not claiming that clear actually means better. All I'm saying is that there's a widespread perception out there that clear is better, and I'm wondering why. Orange juice isn't clear, and neither is Welch's grape juice, but when it comes to mead, wine and beer, clear is supposed to be a good thing, despite the fact that many people like yourself know full well that clear is far from a necessary prerequisite to good even in those categories. (Never seen or tasted tej, by the way, though I take it from the context that it's good.)

Marshmallow Blue, I guess the obvious question to follow up with is why do we prefer clear diamonds? They're not inherently better than opaque diamonds, after all.

Marshmallow Blue
05-22-2013, 01:44 PM
Marshmallow Blue, I guess the obvious question to follow up with is why do we prefer clear diamonds? They're not inherently better than opaque diamonds, after all.

It again goes back to what we are trained to think is better through advertising or else-wise. But in terms of functionality of a diamond; a cloudy one is still 10 on the hardness scale. There's really no simple answer to the question. It would likely take a pretty fat essay that goes into the advertising bit, as well as the sociology on clarity. Whatever it is; its already so deeply rooted in our culture, that its likely not changing any time soon.

An example I guess is water from the faucet. Some faucets don't have the aerator nugget and the water when first put in a cup is white and hazy form all the air bubbles. We all watch and wait for the haze to fade into a perfectly clear glass of water before we stop worrying if we should pour another glass or not.

05-22-2013, 02:03 PM
Heh heh, reminds me of the De Beers commercial:

"Diamonds. Leave her speechless"
why didn't they just say what they mean?...
"Diamonds. THAT'LL shut her up."



05-22-2013, 02:19 PM
Clear brews are considered more aesthetically pleasing, mainly because its easier to advertise them. Clear being linked with purity and other such descriptives.....

With meads, there are so many variables, the type of materials that cause the cloudiness can cause off or at least less pleasant flavours.

Hence clarity is considered by many as "correct".....

Medsen Fey
05-22-2013, 03:26 PM
There's more to it than eye appeal. Most yeast taste like crap - bitter and nasty. Try eating a big spoon full of brewers yeast and see for yourself. Cloudy brews that taste good are more the exception than the rule, and cloudy brews that are good often have a lot of residual sugar covering the yeast.

Typically the more clear it is, the smoother and better it tastes.

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05-23-2013, 07:28 PM
There are notable exceptions to the "yeasty beverages taste bad" rule, but in general I'd agree that's is the loss of bitterness from the yeast that makes clear mead/beer/wine "superior". Many Belgian beers are consumed cloudy, as are many wheat beers. Sometimes the cloudiness is enhanced by proteins, but usually it's mostly yeast. The flavor profiles of these beers are pretty complex though, so a little yeast flavor isn't going to muddy the waters too much. But take a crisp Pilsner and dump yeast into it and it's going to suck.

Chevette Girl
05-23-2013, 10:57 PM
Another thing to consider is that the more clear something fermented is, the less yeast are in suspension, so bitterness aside, the less likely you're going to end up with yeast breaking down (autolysing) and releasing off-flavours into your brew. Some yeasts <ahem 71B!> are known for doing this with detrimental effects, and so you want to make sure you get as much of it to settle out before you bottle as you possibly can.

That, and some people can't stomach active ferments, I recall one thread where the complaint was about having stained the toilet after sampling something out of the primary fermenter :)

05-23-2013, 11:23 PM
... I recall one thread where the complaint was about having stained the toilet after sampling something out of the primary fermenter :)
Hmmm... then maybe they were 'ingesting' it wrong. <ducking>


05-27-2013, 08:04 PM
As a brewer I feel clarity is a visible indicator of my brewing prowess. It brings me satisfaction to match the best efforts of others. Sediment especially irks me.

05-27-2013, 08:26 PM
Clear makes sense when it's a matter of getting the yeast out of suspension. However, there are many other sources of haze that could just as easily be cultivated as avoided, and yet I've never heard of anyone trying to maximize their protein haze, for example. Indeed, haze seems to be felt to be inherently bad even when it has no noticeable effect on taste. That's what I find intriguing.

05-27-2013, 08:37 PM
Some wheat beer recipes call for flour added to the boil to enhance haze. Rather a unique situation, but it does happen.