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Why do craft beers have so many colors?

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-04-13      Origin: Site

We can all see beer colors ranging from light, pale gold, rich amber to dark brown, almost black. You can also taste its light and crisp qualities, while it's heavier and more intense as the beer goes from light to dark in color. But what exactly affects the appearance of a beer?

First of all, all beers are different, and on top of that, the craft beer you're sipping may have a number of reasons why it looks the way it is. Is it crystal clear or does it have a hazy feel? There's a lot to consider, so let's look at one of the most obvious observations: Even the lightest beer isn't completely colorless. The "beer color" is caused by two chemical reactions; one that binds amino acids to sugars, and the other that causes sugars to break down. Both of these can greatly affect the color and taste of the beer.


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Here is the main component that influences the color of your beer:

The Almighty Malt

Malts are the number one influence on your beer’s color. Whew! That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now, you can either stop reading, or if you're a Craft Beer lover like us, you’ll probably want to know a few more details.

The coloration of your beer depends on a few conditions that the brewmaster can decide on while brewing. These choices ultimately lead to the resulting color of your beer.

Roasted Malts

Bottom line is, the more the malts are roasted, the darker the beer will be. This process is called The Maillard (my-YAR) Reaction, or simply “browning” and usually begins by kilning malted barley. Here, the brewmaster can decide the temperature of the kiln and therefore, the coloring potential while brewing. The flavors of bread, biscuits, toast, chocolate and coffee can all be attributed to the malts. Caramelization can also be applied during the browning process, which gives certain beers those signature caramel and roasted qualities.


“Mashing” (a brewing term for steeping the ground malted barley in water) is usually done by bringing the temperature up to a certain level, then letting it sit, or by fluctuating the temperature throughout the steeping process. The water’s pH levels while steeping comes in to play - the higher the pH, the darker the color. Not only that, but the longer the Mash is in contact with the grains also gives deeper coloring to the finished brew.

Cold Break

After the boiling portion of your beer’s journey, the liquid is extracted from the mash. That liquid is now called “Wort”. Once only the wort remains, it is typically treated to a “Cold Break”, which is used to rapidly cool down the mash before going into the fermenter. It also aids in removing malt particles that are packed with color-inducing tannins and thus, creating a clearer beer.


Although not a huge contributor to color, the particles that make it through cold break and into the fermenter will continue producing color. Various types of yeasts used during fermentation have also been known to change the color.


Last but not least, after fermenting the beer, it is usually filtered which results in a clearer beer. You’ll find some brewmasters choose not to filter or lightly filter their beers, which result in a hazy and brighter appearance. Filtration can reduce the beer’s color significantly.

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