Stay Calm & Float On: Sediment In Craft Beer

Posted on: April 12th 2015

Every once in a while, we chat with a fan who is concerned about the “floaties,” flakes, or sediment they’ve found in their craft beer. “Is it bad?” “Will this make me sick?” and “this looks gross” are a few of the comments we read or hear.

We know that not only do you want a beer that is delicious, but you are also interested in high quality ingredients, a wonderful aroma, and a beer with a beautiful look and color. As you pour your beer into the perfect glass, you see white flakes that you weren’t expecting and some not so positive thoughts come to mind unless you’ve done some previous research about the subject.

Small amounts of sediment in beer is natural and an often common occurrence in the brewing industry if the beer is not filtered or pasteurized. Usually what happens is that as beer sits on a shelf or in a keg, yeast and protein particles fall out of solution (the liquid) and end up at the bottom creating a thin layer of white particles that you can see. Most of the time, the older the beer, the more sediment it will have. Sediment is often dormant until poured into a glass and then begins swirling around the beer saying… “I’m FREE!” Yeast is full of B-vitamins so it will not harm you or make you sick so feel free to enjoy that beer sediment and all.

Now with that said, if you are still not convinced that you want to drink the white floaties, there are some steps you can take. First look at the bottom of your beer bottle in the light, if you see a layer of sediment, pour almost all of the beer at once into a glass and leave out the last 1/2 inch or so of liquid. This will minimize the amount of sediment getting into your glass. For some Belgian beers that use a special yeast and wheat, haze and sediment are normal and there should be directions on how to serve this beer on the side of the label. The wheat and yeast add flavor to this particular style of beer, so we recommend that you pour 2/3 into a tilted glass, swirl what’s left in the bottle and resume pouring in all its hazy glory!

A large amount of sediment may also mean that the beer is very old and does not taste as the brewery intended so in that case, check the best by date on the bottle (ours are above the bar code on the label). If it is well past that date, reach out the brewery to let them know. In most cases, they will offer a refund and then can get their sales staff out to that location to rotate out the beer with some fresh, delicious beer!

In any case, beer is a living thing. Bottle conditioning is happening more and more at breweries, including here at Deschutes, where a bit of sugar or wort is added into the bottle and the live yeast continue to feed on that sugar creating CO2 that stays inside keeping the beer fresher, longer. This is a definite advantage for craft beer fans as a mild fermentation process is still happening keeping your beer fresh and delicious but, can also be a source of sediment.

We hope you now know a bit more about sediment and can decide on your own whether or not to drink it, avoid it or ignore it. Please continue to share your knowledge with fellow craft beer drinkers and remember the next time you see floaties in your beer… Stay calm and let them FLOAT ON!