“B3K uses no finings at all. It’s aged 3 to 4 weeks in lager tanks, and the beer settles out. We then transfer the beer to a second tank for serving,” Brown says. The beer is one of a select few to win a Great American Beer Festival medal in two different categories. In 2011, it won bronze in the kellerbier/zwickelbier category after having won the gold medal in 2008 in the German-style schwarzbier category.
“We decided to enter it as an unfiltered kellerbier because the notes from one of the judges said the beer had too much body for the schwarzbier category,” Brown says. “We ended up with two GABF medals in two different categories three years apart with the same beer.”
At Uncle Billy’s Brew & Cue in Austin, Texas, kellerbier Hell in Keller took GABF gold in 2009 and silver in 2008 for brewer Brian Peters.
“All the beers we make are unfiltered. We actually don’t own a filter,” Peters says.
While Peters agrees that certain beers such as lagers benefit from filtering because “it tightens up the flavors,” he believes that in some cases filtering does not have a huge impact on the final product.
“I think that sometimes people make a bigger deal out of it than it is, but it can strip some flavor,” Peters says. “With our ales, we use Fuller’s yeast, and that tends to settle quickly. So we really don’t see the need for filtering.”
Brooks Carretta, the head brewer at Birreria at Eataly in New York City’s Flatiron District, said his brewpub makes slow beer to be served with slow food. The rooftop brewery sits above Eataly, a restaurant, market and wine store modeled after Oscar Farinetti’s famed shop in Turin, Italy. The concept was brought to Manhattan by celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. The brewery was started as a collaboration involving Italian craft brewers Teo Musso of Baladin and Lurisia, Leonardo di Vicenzo of Del Borgo and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head in Delaware, with Carretta running the operation.
“All of the beers we brew at our rooftop brewery are cask conditioned and unfiltered,” Carretta says. “There’s really no need to filter the beer because we sell everything right at the brewpub.
“I’m pro-filtering with a production brewery where you are bottling the beer,” Carretta said. “But unfiltered beer is beer in its natural state. It’s true to what craft beer should be. It is an artisanal product.”
Birreria is building a reputation for itself with beers named after famous Italian women, such as the Gina (Lollobrigida) Thyme Pale Ale. The Wanda (Osiris) Chestnut Mild Ale is unique because it uses roasted chestnuts imported from Italy.
The decision to filter or not filter can be the personal preference of the brewer or dictated by style, such as hefeweizen. But with unfiltered beers on an upswing, one might just be your next beer.