Mesa Eric

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Mesa Eric

Postby fitz » Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:30 am

Eric,
I saw you post on Irish Moss vs Gelatin.
You included a comment on Isinglass. My question is how long does isinglass stay usable with refridgeration? I have a bottle unopened in the fridge, but wasn't sure how long it lasts. I have only used some once for a Pilsner. I have also seen dried versions, and wondered if they work well also.
Isn't this made from an extract from Sturgeon bladders?
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Fishy topic... Isinglas...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:47 am

Liquid isinglas can last up to 6 month if kept refrigerated. The powdered form lasts indefinitely if kept dry. BUT... If you read the instructions about how the dry stuff should be hydrated... you probably won't want to use it ! I purchased some from Savilles called Magicol 250 when liquid isinglas became unavailable (as it very often does). It has to be mixed with ice water and a hand blender in stages and takes about 3 hours !!!! To boot, the friction from the blender warms it up and it cannot be prepared above 60 degrees or it denatures ! I eventually placed ice chips in it and blended it in the cooler to keep in spec. I'll never use it again although it did perform it's function.

The best middleground I am aware of between the two is also a Savilles product called Caskaleer. It is isinglas in paste form. When refrigerated unopened it will last a couple of years or more. Once opened, it will last around 9 months. All you have to do is add a bit of distilled water to knock down the thickness and pour. It works great, but is 1.5 X more expensive than dry and a bit more than liquid. But in home brew quantities, it is not that big of a cost to rule out. There is no better fining in my opinion.
The product is so named after it's most common use, settling cask ales, which it does to sparkling clarity within 2 days at cellar temps, unlike gelatin, which must be used much colder to produce similar results.

As far as the origin... it is made from fish swim bladders, but not sturgeon. It actually comes from a family of tropical fish mostly found around the Pacific rim.
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Thanks

Postby fitz » Fri Feb 21, 2003 4:29 am

Thanks, I have had it for almost 6 months, so I'll just pitch it and get new. I'd rather not take any chances with something as important as beer.
I feel better knowing it isn't from Sturgeon also. No, I'm not one of those, but Sturgeons have been around for a long time, I'd hate to kill them for a swim bladder.
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Like a Sturgeon

Postby Gravity Thrills » Fri Feb 21, 2003 6:54 am

Eric,

Out of professional curiosity (my day job is as a marine biologist), do you know the scientific name of any of the Pacific species commercial isinglass is currently produced from? Historically, of course, it was the giant Russian beluga sturgeon (Huso huso), of caviar fame, that provided bladders for isinglass. (The word isinglass comes from the Old Dutch 'husblase' which literally means "sturgeon base".) As natural beluga populations dwindled and the Russian caviar industry started doing more surgical (non-lethal) removal of caviar in the 70s and 80s, I suppose there would have been a need to find other suitable swim bladder sources.

Commercial isinglass manufacture is reported to occur today in Russia, the US and Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, the West Indies, and the Philippines, so obviously several fish taxa are filling the bill. Beyond a vague reference indicating that various sturgeon, cod, hake and other fish are used, I have never been able to find out which Pacific species are being utilized. Inquiring geeks want to know.

With that out of the way, here's a normal, beer-related question. When is isinglass typically added to cask ale? I assumed it was done when the beer is racked into casks, but if it does such a good job of precipitating all the yeast in 2 days, is that enough time to carbonate? I know the casks arrive at the pub with a soft spile in place, so cask conditioning is still occurring. Is the rocking during transport enough to keep yeast suspended and performing? I assume it is not the cellerman that adds the isinglass when the hard spile is put in, right?

Thanks,
Jim
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Here is a partial list

Postby fitz » Fri Feb 21, 2003 10:43 am

isinglass , gelatinous semitransparent substance obtained by cleaning and drying the air bladders of the sturgeon, cod, hake, and other fishes. Isinglass is manufactured in Russia, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, the West Indies, and the Philippines. It is used in the clarification of wines and beers, as a stiffening for jellies, in court plaster, and in glues and cements. The name isinglass is also commonly applied to thin sheets of mica and sometimes to a gelatinous substance obtained from certain seaweeds.
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still looking...

Postby Gravity Thrills » Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:06 am

Yeah, fitz, that's as much as I had been able to find outas well. There are 24 extant species of sturgeons and 30 cods, etc., abd just outof curiosity I wondered if anyone knew the specific fish being used today. Basicly for the sake of Ichthyologist trivia. i can tell you whichspecies of goatfish to eat the brains out of if you want to hallucinate, and I can tell you which fish you DO NOT want to relieve yourself near in the Amazon unless you want avery painful visitor to a very sensitive spot! But, I cannot, as yet, dazzle the other geeks at the next geek happy hour by telling them what fish swim blaffer might be in their pints on their next trip to England :-)

Cheers,
Jim
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Thanks, Eric

Postby Gravity Thrills » Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:09 am

Thanks for the info. I fell in love with real ale when I went to England, and wanted to be sure I had it right.

BTW, how are you doing with open fermentation at your place? I was jazzed when i had read here you were getting open fermenters.

Jim
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Open Fermenters...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:07 pm

Well... I've got 4-7 bbl. round ones, stainless lined and glycol cooled. They do have lids, but they don't have gaskets or clampdowns. I have not run into any problems using them, even with the lagers I am making, but proceedures have to change vs. using unitanks. Ensuring sanitization is even more critical and requires a multi-modal approach under a rotational schedule. My schedule rotates the usage of Saniclean, chlorine dioxide, and boiling water. So far my swab plates have turned up negative for wort & beer spoilers and wild yeast in my lab workups, so it is working fine. There is little written on commercial scale open fermentation practices as most of the breweries using them have developed their own regimens over time based upon their particular setups vs. the standardized uni proceedures. When I have contacted chemical suppliers for proposals of chemical suites for managing this type of equipment, they simply give me a list of the same products and proceedures as they give for unitank plants which is a bit unnerving. The don't quite get it why I'm so paranoid to be as fastidious as possible. Oh well... thats what happens to anyone operating with what is considered "fringe" equipment !

Eric
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Isinfishin'.... (UPDATED)

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:16 pm

I attended a lecture by Ian Ward of Savilles where he discussed the various fish that isinglas is produced from. A handout he gave us even had a map and picture of the dried bladders of specific fish and pointers to their harvest locations, the vast majority of which were Pacific rim. And, of course, via operation of Murphy's Law, I can't find the !@#$ thing ! I am in the process of getting ahold of Ian and will post back when I have an answer for you on the specie.

*** UPDATED PART: I forgot to mention that Dr. Ward also stated that not all isinglas is created equal... different specie are evidently used for manufacturing different extract products. I assume this is why his handout did not show sturgeon since the topic was only beer clarification, but I do remember some sort of hake relative on the list. It was labeled with an Asiatic name that I had never heard before, but it sure looked "hakeish" to me. I hope to be able to clarify this once I reach Dr. Ward. ***

As far as isniglas and cask usage, it is added just as the cask is being primed and racked. The yeast only ends up staying in suspension for a short time while they consume the prime charge and are settled out by the isinglas lickety split. Remember... cask ales are carbonated at a very low volume, so it takes little time for the sugars to be consumed. Typically, as you guessed, the transport of the primed cask to it's stillage where it will be served 2 days later is enough to keep things stirred up long enough for the yeast to do their job and floc out.

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Very Cool

Postby Gravity Thrills » Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:30 pm

I'm glad it is working out. A far cry from the days of Bill Owens and using bathtubs as open fermenters - now THAT was fringe equipment!

Cheers,
Jim
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