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Popular Beer Additives and Chemicals

Popular Beer Additives and Chemicals

Beer Brewing IngredientsOne problem that many home brewers encounter is floating sediment that makes a beer look less than appetizing. The following list of beer additives and chemicals can make your beer look like it's ready to compete with the big boys on the shelves of your local liquor store.

Beer Additives and Chemicals


If your next home brew project involves a low-gravity beer, such as an American lager, brown ale, or wheat beer, maltodextrin will help increase its body and thickness. Maltodextrin is a sugar that should be added during the wort cycle. It also adds a more grainy taste to your beer.

Burton Water Salts

Epsom salt, gypsum, and potassium chloride combine to form Burton water salts, which are used to harden the water used in your beer and prevent chill haze in the finished product. Chill haze gives a cloudy appearance to a beer, something that might be desirable for a unfiltered wheat beer but might not be what you're looking for in a lager. Burton water salts get their name from the fact that they were originally created to imitate the water used to make beer in Burton-on-Trent, Great Britain. They are essential if you are brewing a pale ale or IPA.

Calcium Chloride/Gypsum

Calcium chloride and gypsum are usually interchangeable. They aid in lowering the pH of the mash while increasing the acidity. They also add calcium to water low in chlorides, and are more commonly used when brewing lighter- to medium-bodied beers to accent their malty flavors. Calcium chloride and gypsum are essential beer making supplies for IPAs and pale ales.

Gelatin Finings

If you are experiencing problems with sediment forming toward the end of the brewing process, gelatin finings are your best problem solver. Gelatin clears out any remaining clumps of yeast or other ingredients before bottling begins. They should be added to water that has already been boiled (not before), and then added to the beer to ensure maximum clarity.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is the antithesis of calcium chloride and gypsum in that instead of lowering the pH and increasing acidity, calcium carbonate actually increases the pH and decreases the acidity of a beer. If you are brewing a batch of stout beer, calcium carbonate goes a long way in tempering the acidity of the roasted malt, giving the beer a much smoother flavor.

Irish Moss

Irish moss is actually a type of red seaweed. Irish moss should be added to the boiling wort when there are 15-20 minutes remaining in the boil. Irish moss attracts proteins and sediment, and is fittingly named after a country that knows its beer. Any of the above additives not only help make for a clean, crisp batch of beer, but they also help keep your beer making kit clean. So there’s no excuse for your next home brew coming out cloudy and unattractive!
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