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Bottom Dweller: The World of Sediment

beer101logoNo one gives much thought to sediment in beer. That sludgy light brown layer at the bottom of some bottles of beer, that can rush into your glass as you finish pouring. That goo is actually dormant yeast (and some assorted proteins and other matter) that settled out after doing its job. Recently I found myself contemplating the etiquette of sediment, and decided to write a column about it (seriously). That turned out to be my latest Beer 101 column (EDIT:which you CAN find here, thanks to Joel for pointing out how to do it hopefully you can find hereĀ  – Sherbrooke recently redesigned its webpage and I can’t figure out how to get a permanent URL link. So if the piece is no longer the first item, scroll down until you find it).

Most readers here will be well aware that most commercial beer is filtered before bottling, meaning sediment is a rarity. However, certain styles have evolved to require processing the beer in a fashion that results in sediment. Belgian-style ales and German weizens are the most common, although good old-British real ale will also have sediment. Bottle sediment is usually a result of bottle conditioning (sometimes called bottle fermentation and other synonyms), where the carbonation takes place post-packaging.

That is all well and good, but my main purpose for writing the piece was to discuss what to do with sediment. Do you let it pour out, or leave it behind? Do you drink the yeasty dregs or dump it down the sink? The latter is mostly personal preference. The former depends on the beer. Belgians are sticklers for leaving sediment behind, lest it mar the beer’s appearance. German weizens, in contrast, are improved by swirling and letting it flow.

I won’t re-write the column here – you get the gist. But I find myself still wondering about sediment. Many of you out there are seasoned and experience beer aficionados, and have likely tackled the sediment question many times. So let me ask: What do YOU do with your leftover sediment? Do you drink it (and how) or do you dump it?

Feel free to post a comment and tell us.



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