Filtered vs Unfiltered Beer – Unfiltered Beer Explained

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Nothing these days excites beer nerds and enthusiasts like a visibly hazy New England IPA. Craft beer lovers get all worked up about the opaque, orange-yellow liquid for some reason. A sniff of that wildly delicious olfactory blast has convinced many sceptics.

The venerable Kellerbier style, as well as other Witbiers, Berliner Weisses, and other sour offerings are allĀ unfiltered beers, so it’s not just hazy IPAs that fall under this category. So what precisely is an unfiltered beer, and why are these varieties currently among the most well-liked globally? We’ll discuss this in detail!

Table of Contents

What Is Filtered Beer?

Any fermented malt beverage, ale, or lager that has undergone filtering before bottling is referred to as a filtered beer. The majority of mass-produced beers use mechanical filtration; consider Budweiser and Coors.

The two techniques are cake filtration and surface filtration. The type of beer is frequently what determines whether the liquid is going to be passed through a powdered, cake-like substance or finings. Because some filters are harsher than others, the flavours of the beer change.

For example, while a rough-filtered beer may still have some cloudiness, it will still be much clearer than an unfiltered beer. No matter how the filtration was performed, a beer that has been filtered is rendered stable. This indicates that conditioning has come to an end.

The grain bed acts as its own filtering agent when a beer is lautered, a procedure that separates the mash into the clear liquid wort and the remaining grain. Gravity filters lager beer, with many impurities falling to the bottom of a bright tank. Another alternative is cold filtration, where the sediment is more easily removed since the beer’s proteins and other organic matter clumps together at lower temperatures.

What Is Unfiltered Beer?

Danish brewery Carlsberg claims unfiltered beer does not undergo additional filtration before it is bottled, thus it is typically less clear than filtered beer. Therefore, it is false that unfiltered beers are either unfinished or unclean. Filtered beers can be cooling, but they frequently lack the more nuanced characteristics of an unfiltered brew, such as scents and flavours.

Breweries spent many years producing beers that were crystal clear since it was believed that this was an indication of quality or that the brewery wasn’t careless. Breweries are skipping filtration more and more frequently these days in an effort to give their beers as much personality as possible.

Beers without filters used to be mistakenly thought of as being unclean or unfinished. In the early days of American craft brewing, pilsners and lagers with crystal clear clarity won the beauty contest because the eye-catching image of a bright yellow, champagne-like pils is still maybe the most memorable beer image to the general public. Yet at what price?

Those lagers may be technically challenging to produce and undoubtedly hydrating, but by severely filtering beers, the richness of flavour and aroma is sacrificed in favour of appearanceā€”a feeble justification for muddling a beer’s sensory impact.

Kellerbier (or Zwickel Lager), which means “cellar beer” since it was aged in cool cellars or caves, is possibly the earliest example of an unfiltered beer still produced today.


Filtered vs Unfiltered Beer

When it comes to unfiltered vs filtered beer, the best way to compare the differences is to look at the following factors:

  • Basic
  • Look
  • Odour
  • Flavour
  • Benefits

Basic

Unfiltered beer is considered to be incomplete or unfinished beer because it is in its raw state. It is exactly like when it is brewed. While filtered beer goes through a cleaning process to get rid of yeast and any leftover malt, barley, or hops from the brewing process.

Look

Unfiltered beers were once thought to be unclean due to their flawed, murky, and hazy appearance. They have gained popularity over time for doing the same. Filtered beer’s clean, chic, and sparkling pale appearance appeals to certain people. Both filtered and unfiltered beer can be attractive, depending on the individual.

Odour

Beer that has been filtered has a significantly milder aroma than unfiltered beer. Filtered beer’s scent is muted and softer than an unfiltered beer due to the loss of yeast and malt during the filtration process.

Flavour

Because yeast, hops, and barley is present, unfiltered beers have more taste. They have a gritty texture, a bitter taste, and hints of many flavours. Beers that have been filtered are silky and have a sharp, clean feel. People’s preferences in this place are influenced by both taste and texture.

Benefits

Vitamin B, which is found in yeast, aids in reducing hangover symptoms. Compared to filtered beer, unfiltered beer contains more fibre. Many people prefer unfiltered beer over filtered beer because they believe it is healthier.


Perhaps “soft” is the one adjective that best captures the distinction between filtered and unfiltered beers. Nowhere in unfiltered beers is that softness more noticeable than in the remarkably divergent approaches to American IPAs in recent years.

The lip-smacking snap of bitterness that results from an enormous IBU ratio as well as a frequently hefty malt profile to balance out the intensely hopped style has been the most distinctive stylistic characteristic of American IPAs and Double IPAs throughout their history.

West Coast IPAs that are aggressive and potent come from breweries like Stone, Russian River, AleSmith, Elysian, and others. They are all distinguished by their intensely bitter flavour profiles. For instance, Stone’s Ruination line relied on the notion that its extreme bitterness levels would “ruin” a palate (in a good way, of course).

These beers were all evenly filtered, bright orange in colour, and had a huge, foamy head of tan or beige bubbles.

The pendulum swung swiftly in response to these beers, as it has throughout the history of modern craft beer. Unfiltered IPAs (often called Hazy IPAs) with new-school hops feature a far juicier aroma and flavour profile and are becoming the new standard in IPA production, even though there is still a thriving market for heavily filtered West Coast IPAs that highlight classic American hops. These beers may even be opaque from lack of filtering.

These Hazy IPAs put the emphasis on an incredibly smooth and simple-to-drink mouthfeel and do away with the distinctive bitterness that was the IPA style’s defining characteristic for decades. Instead, Hazy IPAs slam consumers with incredible juicy, fruity, and resinous aromas and flavours derived from the different hop varieties used.

Because they were invented in the New England region, starting with The Alchemist in Vermont and its Heady Topper DIPA and Focal Banger IPA, these unfiltered Hazy IPAs are frequently referred to as New England IPAs. Similar to this, Lawson’s Finest Liquids (also in Vermont) was innovating with its double IPA and hazy IPA, Sip of Sunshine.

Unfiltered Beer Brands

Nowadays, breweries are more likely to sell both filtered and unfiltered versions of their more well-known blends. If you want to try a filtered or an unfiltered version, make sure to look on the shelves of your beer supplier or inquire with the brewery directly.

Here are some of the most common unfiltered beer brands:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is unfiltered beer bad for you?

Contrarily, unfiltered beer is better for you than ultra-filtered beer in terms of health. Filtered beer provides far fewer B vitamins, probiotics, and fibre than unfiltered beer since filtration removes any traces of yeast from the beverage.

What is unfiltered beer called?

Unfiltered beers are typically referred to as just unfiltered beer. The oldest examples of other words, though, would be Zwickel Lager or Kellerbier (cellar beer). During their maturity, these beers were kept in caves or cellars. Unfiltered beer styles are frequently referred to as “hazy,” as in Hazy IPAs. There are also milkshake IPAs, glitter beers, and FLIPAs that are variations of hazy IPAs (Florida-style IPAs). Another unfiltered beer variety that is currently enjoying a return in favour is goses.

Does unfiltered beer taste better?

“Probably,” to use Carlsberg’s phrase. Unfiltered beers, on the other hand, are regarded to have more taste than filtered beers, mainly because they have more naturally occurring yeast components in them. Unfiltered beers continue to evolve even after bottling, giving you a deeper flavour and texture.

What does unfiltered alcohol mean?

Before being bottled, alcoholic beverages like wine and beer undergo a filtration procedure. For a number of reasons, this is done. Some individuals appreciate that the alcohol has the particulates removed, leaving a spotless beverage when it is poured. Second, filtration gets rid of unwelcome yeast and other microbes. Unfiltered items were those that underwent no extra filtration before bottling.

By Tickety Brew

Ivor Ardghal : Brewer and Writer at Tickety Brew