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Belgian Fermentation Temps

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Snow

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Folks,

I just put down a partial mash Belgian Dubbel, with an OG of 1.072. The yeast is Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier. I used a full 500ml of pure slurry from the primary of a previous batch. It took off within 2 hours. My question is, what do you reckon an optimal temp is for primary fermentation for these types of beers? The Wyeast site says 14-24C. Papazian says less than 18C. Ragout quotes high-gravity brewers aiming for temps from 24-30C. The recent Zymurgy Magazine has a Belgian article that says 20C or lower. Michael Jackson says 24-30C. :blink: However, my instincts tell me 21C. What am I to make of all this? <_< My vague understanding is that the more yeast and the greater aeration you have, the higher you can ferment at for greater ester production, without the higher alcohols. Well, I used stacks of healthy yeast and aerated with an air pump for an hour. Whaddayarekun?

Cheers - Snow.
 

warrenlw63

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Snow

From my own experiences. Better off fermented at the lower end of the scale. About 18c

Sometimes think that high fermentation temp. Belgians swing towards Urban Myth. or commercial Belgian brewers with inconsistent temperature control.

Higher temps. tend to make the already funky Belgian character, how should we say it.... Overly Funky :D

Warren -
 

Darren

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Snow,
I agree with Warren. If you ferment it cooler, chances are it may not be "funky" enough but at least you will be able to drink it.
cheers
Darren
 

warrenlw63

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Yep, basically becomes a case of trying to balance the funky with the beer flavours themself.

Case in point. Tried to make a high grav. Belgian dark ale a couple of years ago. Wanted it to be a little like Kasteel Bier. Which is basically a Belgian attempt at a lowly hopped barleywine.

Fermentation temps ran away a little which is pretty easy to do with higher gravity brews, temps got as high as 22c. The end product wound up permanently undrinkable with far too many solventy flavours. Even given Wyeast's recommendations that this yeast can ferment as high as 25c. Yeast in question was 3787 Trappist high grav. :angry:

Ended up with 20 litres of turps. Salvaged the brew by blending it in various quantities into a low grav porter. Wound up pretty tasty this way. But way off what I wanted in the first place. <_<

BTW Snow, if you want a Belgian yeast that can do it all. The one I highly recommend is Wyeast 3522 (Belgian Ardennes). Tends to be more temp. tolerant than the others as well. Makes pretty good Belgian ales right across the spectrum. Even made my nicest wit to date. :super:

Warren -
 

Snow

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Thanks guys. Good advice.

Interesting to note that Michael Jackson got it from the horses mouth at Chimay that their Blue is fermented up around 30C !! :eek:

Anyway, Mine started at 19C, went up to 22C for a day, and I now have it back down at 18C, so we'll see how it turns out!

Warren, that's a shame about your experience with the 3787. It is one of my favourite yeasts. I made a tripel with this a couple of years ago and pitched at 22C, then brought it down to 21C a day or so later, fermenting at 21C for 10 days. It turned out perfectly and won the Belgian/French and Best Extract categories at the National Champs that year!
I also made a raspberry dubbel with the same yeast that turned out very nice. It was fermented at 21C.

- Snow.
 

Steve Lacey

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Snow said:
I used a full 500ml of pure slurry from the primary of a previous batch. It took off within 2 hours.
[post="48585"][/post]​
Was the previous batch also high gravity? That would be a concern if it was :excl:

As for temperature: no experience with that particular yeast, but I would echo the 18 degrees suggested by Warren and others.

Steve
 

warrenlw63

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Steve Lacey said:
Snow said:
I used a full 500ml of pure slurry from the primary of a previous batch. It took off within 2 hours.
[post="48585"][/post]​
Was the previous batch also high gravity? That would be a concern if it was :excl:

As for temperature: no experience with that particular yeast, but I would echo the 18 degrees suggested by Warren and others.

Steve
[post="48600"][/post]​
Good thought Steve. Didn't even think of that. Yeast would be pretty beat up if it's a slurry from a H.G. batch. Certainly not a recommended practice. Good to start your yeast for Belgian Beauties with something like a Wit, then rack your alcohol monster onto the cake.

Oh! Thanks for agreeing with me re; fermentation temps. That means if it all goes pear shaped I can blame you. :p

You brewing much up there in Japan at the moment ? How's prices for ingredients etc? I remember reading your story a couple of years ago about brewing a tripel against the elements. You pioneer you! ;)

Warren -
 

warrenlw63

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Snow said:
Thanks guys. Good advice.

Warren, that's a shame about your experience with the 3787. It is one of my favourite yeasts. I made a tripel with this a couple of years ago and pitched at 22C, then brought it down to 21C a day or so later, fermenting at 21C for 10 days. It turned out perfectly and won the Belgian/French and Best Extract categories at the National Champs that year!
I also made a raspberry dubbel with the same yeast that turned out very nice. It was fermented at 21C.

- Snow.
[post="48599"][/post]​
Snow

Think it may have more a case of the sheer size of the wort in question. OG was 1.100 which was a bit ambitious. Pitched it onto a cake. Fermentation took off like a wayward fireworks factory and I never managed to haul it in over the first few days. I basically had a full-blown turps manufacturing plant going. :blink:

The wit that I started the yeast with (as stated in earlier post re; methods) really turned out nicely.

Oddly enough I think I lost my nerve with this yeast because I've never gone back to it. Yep I know a lot of other brewers swear by it. Old Warren's gotta get back on his bike. ;)

When I've got my hand in the fridge at the HB store grabbing a Belg. yeast it always seems to be my last choice. (next to 1214 bannanabrau).

Congrats on the top nationals finish. Thus far it alludes me. Only ever placed first in state comps.

Warren -
 

neonmeate

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just to offer a different experience: I've made 4 beers with WLP565 (saison) over the last couple of months all at about 28 or higher (one was well over 30!) and all have come out beautiful, with big fat esters and spiciness but no fusels. they do need a few weeks of aging to smooth out though.

i fermented a couple of beers with 530 (which i think =3787) last winter - one at 17 or so, I had to keep warming it up and it never got as much fruitiness as I wanted. the next one i wrapped up with a sleeping bag and kept at about 23 and it had a lot more flavour. (and wasnt rough). i guess ester production would vary with what gravity wort you have too - the one i fermented warmer was a higher grav than the colder one.
 

Goat

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For what its worth: In Farmhouse Ales (an interesting book on Belgian Farmhouse/traditional ales) theres a photo of a fermentation tank with thermometer. The temp reading on it was 30deg - the photo caption making the point on fermentation temps.
 

Steve Lacey

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warrenlw63 said:
You brewing much up there in Japan at the moment ? How's prices for ingredients etc? I remember reading your story a couple of years ago about brewing a tripel against the elements. You pioneer you! ;)

Warren -
[post="48601"][/post]​
Warren, just briefly, because I'd like to put a bit of an article together on this topic (and don't want to hijack this thread), I am getting in a fair amount of brewing. Ingredients cost the same as they do in Australia because that's where I buy them from, but the postage costs a bit more than the ingredients, so I pay more than double what you blokes pay :(

Mostly I brew ESB 3-kg kits with some extra hops and specialty grains or even the odd mini-mash. I also keep myself in liquid yeasts with a primitive culturing set-up. This winter I have done two all-grain batches and hope to do another soon -- one was a 1080 experimental lager, the other a 1055 Vienna. I do these at a friend's place. Still haven't got an insulated mash tun and just use a bucket wrapped in blankets with a siphon style screen for lautering. Efficiency could be better. Have to split the boil into two pots cause we don't have one quite big enough. Don't have a wort chiller, but Japanese bathtubs are big, so the pots get immersed in a big water bath - it does the job :)

More details and photos when the article comes out.

Cheers,

Steve
:ph34r:
 

warrenlw63

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Hey Steve keep us all posted on the article. Sounds particularly interesting. I'm picking you'd be keeping the Japanese Customs Officers in full-time employment. :)

As much as I was downplaying the advantages these days of brewing books on another thread. That book Farmhouse Ales sounds like a must have Goat. Have you seen the new companion book for it Wild Brews? :super:

Where did you aquire yours? Think I'm going to have to invest in at least 2 more brewing books. They would make a great companion to Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium.

30 degrees for a Saison ?? :unsure: . Always thought they were oddish, albeit interesting brews. The fermentation temps would go a long way to explain some of the acidic, sourish tastes you encounter in some of the commercial examples.

Warren -
 

Goat

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Yeah it is an interesting read Warrenlw63 - well worth it. I haven't seen the follow up - IIRC it was the first part in a 3 book series.

I bought that and Radical Brewing from Amazon just before Christmas (was an inlaw chrissy present) together they came to just less than $50
 

Snow

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Steve Lacey said:
Snow said:
I used a full 500ml of pure slurry from the primary of a previous batch. It took off within 2 hours.
[post="48585"][/post]​
Was the previous batch also high gravity? That would be a concern if it was :excl:

As for temperature: no experience with that particular yeast, but I would echo the 18 degrees suggested by Warren and others.

Steve
[post="48600"][/post]​
No, the previous batch was a Hoegaarden copy, at 1.050. I was following Rajotte's lead by first doing a low-grav, then dumping a medium grav onto the yeast cake, then going to High-gravity onto that one. So, I guess my next beer will be a tripel...

I'm gathering from the various responses that high temps are beneficial if they are kept constant and a large amount of healthy yeast is used. I don't think I have the nerve to go higher than 22C, though.... :huh:

Cheers - Snow.
 

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