June 08 2017

How to make a Snow Globe


Recently we invested in a centrifuge. It’s a pretty snazzy machine that allows us to remove the majority of the yeast from our beers at the end of fermentation without stripping any of the flavour or aroma.

We’ve always been quite comfortable with having yeast in our packed beer. It’s a natural and necessary part of the brewing process and it helps to keep beer fresh - but it’s nice to be able to control the amount of yeast in the finished product.

With our new toy we’ve been polishing our pilsners, leaving our IPA’s with the touch of the yeast and hop haze we like, and giving beers like Party & Bullshit and Fuzz Box just a tickle to take out the thick of it. We’ve been stoked with the results - hoppy beers have been hoppier and pilsners have been cleaner and snappier.

We had all been feeling a bit pleased with ourselves but it has become clear (or rather not) that not everything has gone according to plan with our new toy.

Several of our extra hoppy beers have developed tiny particles, not the yeast we like, but something entirely new that we’ve never had before.

It’s always good to learn something new, and after a little digging it turns out that we are not alone with this issue. Referred to as snow globe by some breweries overseas that have had the same problem, these phantom floaties are a result of centrifuging heavily hopped beers.

It seems that the shearing forces of the centrifuge as it spins at 6250 rpm causes proteins in the beer to come out of solution. Rather than being removed, these proteins stay in the beer and then bond with polyphenols that were introduced when the beer was dry hopped. The beer looks great straight after centrifuging - in fact there’s no evidence of anything untoward until a couple of weeks after packaging when it starts to snow.

These hoppy-protein flakes have no effect on the aroma and flavour of the beer. It still smells good, it tastes good, it just looks like your Mum came back from overseas and she got you a novelty snow globe.

We think we’ve solved the problem by adding a naturally occurring enzyme to our mash, but of course we’ve still got hoppy beers with this issue out there until they’re replaced by the new batches. We’ve tasted the snowflake beers and we think they taste really good, they just don’t look great. New batches of snowflake free beer will be coming through shortly, but in the meantime here are some suggestions for dealing with the existing batches.

  • The classic pour approach - allow your beer to rest in the fridge and then gently pour into a glass leaving sediment in the bottom of the can or bottle. Clear beer, problem solved.
  • The Schrödinger's cat approach - drink your beer from the can. Does it have snowflakes or not? You’ll never know.
  • The arts and crafts approach - Glue a small replica of the Sydney Harbour bridge, Koala in a tree or similar object to the bottom of your glass and vigorously pour a can of hoppy Garage beer on top for loads of snow globe fun.

Garage Project snowglobes - hopefully available for a short time only.