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Am I Overpitching Belgian Yeast?

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JaseH

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I love Belgian ales but buggered if I can brew one! :(

I've attempted 3 belgian style ales this year, a tripel, a dubbel and most recently a saison. The saison is currently in its second week in the primary but its been steady at 1009 for days so I'm pretty sure its done.

They first two were very disappointing, and it looks like the saison is following suit. They lack the esters and spicy characteristics of the yeast and all I get is a buttery diacetyl like flavor. None of my other beers have had this issue.

Tripel:
Wyeast 1214
Pitched at 18C and raised to 22-23C over a couple of days.

Dubbel:
Wyeast 1214
Pitched at 18C and raised to 25C over a few days.

Saison:
Wyeast 3726PC
Pitched at 20C and raised to 28C over 4 days

After the first two, I figured that maybe the 1214 just didn't like me, so decided a Saison looked a little more fool proof. But tasting the last couple of SG samples so far its tasting very similar to the previous 2.

What they all had in common:

Stepped starters, and pitched last step as an active starter using the actual wort which I save from the end of the mash and boil separately on the stove.

They were all rocket ferments - basically FG in 3days! Even the Tripel which comes in at around 9.5%abv. The Saison I was expecting to take a while as I've read they can but it basically was 1010 by day 3 before I even got a chance to ramp the temp up into the high 20's.

I use yeastcalc.com to calculate my starters and yeast numbers, but usually err on the higher side of the numbers provided, so am probably overpitching a little.

This is the basic procedure I use for all my beers and my APA's, IPA's etc all turn out great.

Can over pitching have this effect of fast fermenting, buttery, bland belgians?
 

bruce86

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i used it in a kit and bits i did which was like my 3rd or 4th brew and got mega esters. i checked my notes and i pitched at 25deg then realised i should of started lower so tried to do it afterwards lol. maybe try it in reverse to the belgians and start warm to get the esters then drop it back. I also used it for a 10ltr munich lager ag at 10deg clean as a whistle lol.
 

Nick JD

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Google ATT (alcohol acetate transferase) production and how it's affected by pitch rates.
 

Dazza88

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my best belgian was a pale ale 15l @ 1.050 pitched with a 300ml 3787 chilled starter in an emergency pitch as the cube tap was accidently opened during that dayd. i thought this was a serious underpitch. also brewed in ambient in april ub the low twenties. so basically the most unthought of attempt turned out the best.

my leffe blonde attempt was too sweet. my dubbel was too thin. i think these suffered from poor malt bill formation and not raising the temp enough during ferment, temp controlled fridge. they were pitched with an amount of yeast as advised by mr malty etc.

research underpitching belgian yeast for esters and raising temp protocols during ferment for ester control and attenuation. maybe your brews finished by the time you tried to raise the temp.

3787 also takes a month to come good taste wise. the good brew above remained on primary fot a month. it was very clear at bottling. no cc in da fridge.
 

losp

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I am probably going to get 100 people telling me why this is wrong.
but i just pitch around 1L for everything. If i am brewing a 10% Lager i may do 2- 3L but that is rare.

I find it works for almost everything. Fine for all my regular lagers and i find its enough to get things going with a big belg and small enough to make the yeast have to work a little harder too.
 

Dazza88

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losp. what temp are your lagers pitched at. i go bigger and pitch at 7c.
 

losp

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DazDog not that low, although i have before.
Depending on what it is: 9 - 12
 

Nick JD

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Try underpitching by half with 1214, Frothie. See if that makes any difference.

I pitch a finished 2L starter (no stepping, just an old smackpack into 2L of 1.040 in a PET juice bottle with limp oxygenation) into my 12-15L belgians (usually 1.065-85) and with 1214, sometimes I have a problem with too much banana. Opening the fermenting fridge stinks the laundry and kitchen out with banana muffins.

For belgians above 1.090 I first make a "Belgianweizen" (1.055 hefe recipe with 1214) and pitch on the whole cake.

Never had a belgian finish in anything close to 3 days. More like 7-10.

EDIT: same technique with 3787. Question: are you adding a lot of sugar during the ferment?
 

JaseH

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Ok I've got plenty of 3726 left so I may try the same Saison recipe I just did but under pitching this time. Doing everything else the same it should provide a good comparison to see if that's been my problem.

I'm sure the temp on the saison was a little low, I intended to raise it up to near 30C over a 3-4 days but it was all over before I had the chance! Its been sitting at 27-28C now for about a week and has been steady at 1009. I'll give to the end of the week.

The first step of my 3726 starter smelt promising - it had all the right estery, spicy aromas, it just didn't end up in the beer!
 

Nick JD

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The first step of my 3726 starter smelt promising - it had all the right estery, spicy aromas, it just didn't end up in the beer!
I get loads of pear from 3726 initially, but it fades quite quickly. TBH, it's nicer when it fades and it's more dried apricot. 1.009 isn't that low for that yeast. You bottling it?

EDIT: whoops, I thought it was Bel Saison 3724. Disregard! Haven't used 3726.
 

JaseH

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Try underpitching by half with 1214, Frothie. See if that makes any difference.

I pitch a finished 2L starter (no stepping, just an old smackpack into 2L of 1.040 in a PET juice bottle with limp oxygenation) into my 12-15L belgians (usually 1.065-85) and with 1214, sometimes I have a problem with too much banana. Opening the fermenting fridge stinks the laundry and kitchen out with banana muffins.

For belgians above 1.090 I first make a "Belgianweizen" (1.055 hefe recipe with 1214) and pitch on the whole cake.

Never had a belgian finish in anything close to 3 days. More like 7-10.

EDIT: same technique with 3787. Question: are you adding a lot of sugar during the ferment?
Cheers Nick

The Triple and Dubbel had sugar added late in the ferment, not a huge amount. The sugar additions stretched the ferment out a bit but the majority of the work was done within 4 days before I started adding the sugar. The Saison was a simple recipe 74%Pils, 24%Wheat & 2% Melanoiden OG ~1040 with no sugar.

I'm still to keg the saison and see how it goes but at the moment its tasting familiarly like the others.
 

black_labb

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1009 seems pretty high for a saison with an og of 1040 IMO
 

JaseH

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1009 seems pretty high for a saison with an og of 1040 IMO
I thought so too, but that's about what Beersmith predicted and its been there for a few days now? Might crank it up to 30C for a couple of days and see if it goes anywhere. Regardless, I think the yeast has done its thing as far as flavor is concerned.
 

black_labb

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That's only a hair over 75% attenuation. I assumed you've mashed on the low side and you don't have any specialty malts that would raise the FG. I'd give the fermenter a swirl while raising the temp as well. You won't get any more yeast character but dryness of the beer will exentuate it.
 

JaseH

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That's only a hair over 75% attenuation. I assumed you've mashed on the low side and you don't have any specialty malts that would raise the FG. I'd give the fermenter a swirl while raising the temp as well. You won't get any more yeast character but dryness of the beer will exentuate it.
Yep mashed @ ~63C, just the melanoiden malt but that isn't a spec malt is it?

Nick JD said:
1.009 isn't that low for that yeast. You bottling it?
There's about 25L, what doesn't fit in the keg will be bottled.
 

JaseH

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Well the Saison with 3726 actually didn't turn out too bad in the end, I'm actually quite happy with it. I heated it up to 30C for a few days but still only managed one more point to 1008FG. I was half expecting it to be a bit bland and thin going by the samples I'd tried out of the fermenter. But a week or so carbing in the keg and its a definite Saison!

Now to go back and try a Tripel, using a smaller starter this time.
 

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