Don’t be fooled; Whirlfloc isn’t the latest trendy swear word making its rounds on TikTok. However, I can guarantee that you’ll be surprised to learn how important it is to your social life.
Chances are, if you’re researching Whirlfloc, you’re already into home brewing, or you’re like me and have an insatiable appetite for learning.
Whirlfloc comes in tablet form and is a lovely blend of Irish moss and carrageenan ingredients that clarifies non-fined beer. No one likes cloudy beer; even Guinness, with its dark smoldering texture, has a level of beer clarity. Though, that level may diminish drastically after a few pints.
What Is Irish Moss? And Do I Really Want It in My Brewski?
Perhaps you’re visualizing tiny bits of moss floating in your brew and thinking, no thanks. On the other hand, if you don’t add Irish moss from the red sea algae family, you could end up with a batch of murky beer.
Irish moss grows abundantly on the rocky shores of the Atlantic in North America and Europe.
Up close, it’s kind of pretty and comes in muted shades of dark purple, green, brown, yellow, or red and resembles a fine stalk of broccoli—some say parsley. It tastes like a mouthful of the ocean.
It would have been interesting to witness that precise moment in history when whoever was walking along the shores of the Atlantic enjoying the splendor of the magnificent ocean saw the algae growing in profusion on the rocks and said, ‘Hey, I bet that would go nice in my beer.”
Irish moss, which few call by its scientific classification of Chondrus Crispus, has many uses in our food products. As an industrial product, it’s known as carrageenan and is widely used as a thickening agent in ice cream and other processed food.
Natural carrageenan is so versatile despite its rich iodine and sulfur content that it’s used in calico (cloth), marbled paper manufacturing, and, most importantly, beer finings.
The Difference Between Carrageenan and Irish Moss
Technically, the difference is minimal. The best way to differentiate the two substances is that carrageenan is the family and Irish moss is the offshoot. The essence is extracted from edible red seaweed.
Irish moss is the most popular offshoot from carrageenan, which is used to stabilize many food products for its ability to bind proteins.
What’s This Fining You Speak Of?
Finings have little to do with fish but everything to improve the clarity of beer, wine, and other non-alcoholic juice drinks.
Finings are ingredients elemental to the brewing process and added during the later stages. Their purpose is to remove organic compounds, help to improve flavor and aroma, and make the beer clearer.
Essentially, finings bind to haze-causing extra proteins, sulfides, polyphenols, benzenoids, and copper ions which are discarded at the end of the process. They can form into stable sediment.
Carrageenan adheres to the beer wort, a liquid extracted during the mashing process in the beer brewing process. The remaining crud is called cold break.
Other Notable Benefits of Carrageenan
Carrageenan is an excellent substitute for gelatin in food and beverage products, rendering them suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets.
Research also shows promising results in tissue engineering and regenerative properties, which may well explain why people always look better after a few pints.
Whirlfloc and Your Next Batch of Beer
Whether you’re brewing only a small batch for personal consumption or have a full-blown microbrewery business, Whirlfloc is undoubtedly on your radar and in your brewing pantry and vernacular.
It sounds so cool, “Yeah, gotta get me some more Whirlfloc to combat that haze in my lager.”
But that’s precisely what Whirlfloc does. It does it effectively and inexpensively. At under four dollars per 10 tablets, Whirlfloc tablets get added during the last five to 15 minutes of boiling time. You only use one tab for every 10 gallons, making it a cost-effective agent for beer.
It’s okay to cut the tablet in half for a smaller five-gallon batch and still brew quality suds.
To Whirlfloc or to Irish Moss?
Since Whirlfloc tablets are an ideal blend of Irish moss and carrageenan extract, most brewers prefer the combo method over just adding Irish moss to beer.
While surfing to find meaning and usefulness behind Whirlfloc, I came across many great tips from passionate beer aficionados like these seasoned chaps and their take on Whirlfloc performance and the tested results.
It’s not surprising that connoisseurs choose Whirlfloc brews.
My dad tried his hand at brewing beer. Let’s just say it’s best to follow the directions, including the ingredient list and materials required. Brewing is an art that takes time to master and is a standard for exactness. My dad drank the awful stuff anyway; he probably cursed words similar to Whirlfloc.
When to Add Whirlfloc to Your Batch?
For novice brewers, this is a good question. Internet brew savvy experts suggest anywhere from the last five to 15 minutes in the boil. Recommendations also include that you should chill the wort (liquid) in the kettle rapidly.
To achieve less chill haze, boil the wort vigorously and cool rapidly. The fining process occurs in the fermenter and not the boiling stage.
Beer Brewing Lingo
Beer brewers have come up with their own beer-speak lingo; we’ve only breached the surface. The microbrewing market changed the way we consume beer. We want versatility in flavor and mouthfeel.
People have been drinking and brewing beer since the 5th millennium BC, which speaks to its staying power. We enjoy the taste, the effect, and how it compliments our meals and social agenda.
I grew up drinking crisp German lagers (it was once common that children partook of wine and beer served at dinner), and it’s still my go-to pizza and burger partner. I enjoy the pale blond liquid. I doubt I would drink my Stella if it weren’t.
My friends made the switch to popular IPAs many years ago. Something to do with suffering from fewer headaches.
But even darker or medium blends of beer benefit from Whirlfloc. Brewers and consumers have left no stone unturned to produce cloud-free beer with the aid of Whirlfloc additives.
It seems we drink with all our senses.