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Master Brewers Association of the Americas > BREWING RESOURCES > Ask the Brewmaster > Posts > Removing Fine DE
August 10
Removing Fine DE

​Q: Brewmaster,

My Operations Manager has decided to remove the fine Kieselguhr from our filtration pre-coat and body feeds and replace it with coarse Kieselguhr as a cost saving measure. Prior to this decision we were using approximately a 2:1 ratio of coarse kieselguhr to fine in the pre-coats and body feeds. Is there a significant difference in effectiveness of filtration of fine vs coarse kieselguhr? Could removing of the fine kieselguhr cause filtration problems? Additional info: We use a frame type filter press. We currently do two pre-coats consisting of  a mixture of coarse and fine kieselguhr. and 4 body feeds for approximately 100 hl of beer

A: In regards to the effectiveness of your filtration, eliminating the fine DE will result in a coarser filtration. Yes, this may be a significant difference. Look at your spent cake and compare it to what came out of the beer previously during the finer filtrations. Whether allowing more particles to pass through your filter into the finished beer is acceptable can only be determined by the load of your unfiltered beer (what and how much of it needs to come out) and your product specifications (desired level of clarity/acceptable haze, colloidal stability, shelf life, etc.) for that given brand. There's no one-size-fits-all answer since there are so many different types of beer on the market and strategies for producing them.

Could removal of the fine DE cause filtration problems? To answer this question I reached out to MBAA member Tom Thilert, who has many years of experience in filtration. Here's a summary of what Tom mentioned:

Since you are using a plate and frame filter, you most likely have (non-active) filter sheets between the frames. Non-active filter sheets contain no DE (they are mostly made of cellulose) and only serve the purpose of supporting the cake. Removing the fine DE might cause blinding of the filter sheet if there are a lot of fines to remove. Otherwise, this should be no problem.

If after removing the fine DE, the sheets don't plug, you have no issue with releasing the cake from the sheets, and the filtered beer meets your product specifications, then there is no problem with removing the fine DE. With no fine DE, you can get away with a single precoat and use the same DE for the entire run. 

Please note: If you are using active sheets for an extra polish filtration, then it is very likely these will plug without the fine DE.

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