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Old 12-13-2007, 03:36 AM   #1
Jimmy Von Tripel
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Default Low fermenting temperatures for Belgian yeasts...

Hey everyone,

At the moment I have a Tripel fermenting on Wyeast 3787, a Hefe on 3068, a Belgian Wheat on 3942 and a Belgian Strong Golden on 1388.

The place that these are all fermenting is 61ºF. The 3787, 3068 and 3942 have a minimum optimum fermenting temp of 64ºF and the 1388's optimum low is 65ºF.

Everything is fermenting nicely...at the moment. Might one of these fermentations slow down and not finish low enough on the gravity because of the low temp? I know the temps wyeast suggests are more like optimum guidelines, so has anyone had any trouble fermenting these yeasts this cool?

Its not the initial strong part of the fermentation (as that generates a lot of heat and the low ambient temps are not a problem then) that I'm worried about, its when the yeast start to slow down and take their time eating the last 25 or so points.

I personally believe that ANY yeast (saison included) creates a better beer if fermented on the cool side (makes the alcohol, flavors smoother), but is going 3 or 4 degrees below optimum iffy?

I would rather not introduce a space heater but I will if that be the consensus.

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Old 12-13-2007, 02:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy Von Tripel
Hey everyone,

At the moment I have a Tripel fermenting on Wyeast 3787, a Hefe on 3068, a Belgian Wheat on 3942 and a Belgian Strong Golden on 1388.

The place that these are all fermenting is 61ºF. The 3787, 3068 and 3942 have a minimum optimum fermenting temp of 64ºF and the 1388's optimum low is 65ºF.

Everything is fermenting nicely...at the moment. Might one of these fermentations slow down and not finish low enough on the gravity because of the low temp? I know the temps wyeast suggests are more like optimum guidelines, so has anyone had any trouble fermenting these yeasts this cool?

Its not the initial strong part of the fermentation (as that generates a lot of heat and the low ambient temps are not a problem then) that I'm worried about, its when the yeast start to slow down and take their time eating the last 25 or so points.

I personally believe that ANY yeast (saison included) creates a better beer if fermented on the cool side (makes the alcohol, flavors smoother), but is going 3 or 4 degrees below optimum iffy?

I would rather not introduce a space heater but I will if that be the consensus.
The wheats might be fine ... you'll probably end up with more clove esters than banana, which is your choice. However, the strong and tripple need to be at much higher temps. I've never had a dubbel, trippel or strong finish and be good at lower temps. And, everything that I've read, says that saisons should definitely be much higher temps.
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:30 PM   #3
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What I've picked up from Jamil and had success with on my Belgian dark strong was starting the fermentation relatively cool (65°-68°), while the yeast was in the reproductive phase. Then, you want to let the temperature ramp up gradually to promote attenuation. This was easy for me, as I brewed in the summer and kept moving up the temp control on the lagerator; in winter, this might require a brewbelt or something similar.

The idea is that by starting cool, you limit the production of fusel alcohols, but finishing warm lets the yeast really go to town. My attenuation was somewhere between 85% and 92%, depending on whether my hydrometer was accurate or not (broke before I could check) - but in any case, it finished nice and dry.

As noted, the temps do have an impact on ester production, as well.

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Old 12-13-2007, 02:34 PM   #4
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Fermentation for me is often around 4 degrees higher than my ambient temps (70* rather than 66* in my basement), so maybe you will just hit the bottom of that 65* for the Belgian strains. Although, I'm not sure that it will be the correct temperature to wake the yeast up in the first place and start initial activity.

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Old 12-13-2007, 02:35 PM   #5
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The way it works in those Trappist breweries isn't really replicable in a homebrew setting without physically adding heat. What happens is they pitch in the low 60's, and because of the exothermic reaction of the yeast activity the temperature naturally is driven up by the yeast, but that's because of thermal mass.

You will not get the distinctive charactersitics of those yeasts coming through if you do not move the fermenting wort to higher temperatures late on in the game. As srm stated, it won't be much of a big deal with the Wheat. However, if you want to replicate a Tripel or a Strong, they are very much about those Esters. The trick is all in the timing. You have to keep a sharp eye on how the ferment is progressing to know when you should up the heat. I wait until it is really slowing down in the airlock when compared to how it was bubbling with the initial stages of fermentation.

And like bird points out, those strains are in general fantastic attenuators!

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Old 12-13-2007, 04:06 PM   #6
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So would it be safe to raise the temp closer to 70ºF for all these yeast?

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Old 12-13-2007, 04:08 PM   #7
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I think so, especially once they've gotten going. Again, it's the beginning of fermentation - reproduction - where temperatures are most critical.

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Old 12-13-2007, 04:18 PM   #8
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I'm using 3942 right now and I started around 64-65 and over the course of 3 days ramped up to 73-74. It's at 1.007 in 6 days total time. I even underpitched.

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Old 01-01-2008, 07:21 AM   #9
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Thank you all for wonderful discussion on this topic.
I'm doing a extract tripel w/ wyeast 3787, tomorrow and was concerned with the low temps(56-60f) in fermentation basement. I'll start temp out low, let it naturally rise on it's own than monitor and kick the temp up more (70-78f) or maintain temp for the duration with a heat pad from walgreens.

I should be doing lagers, not belgians this time of year. DOH!
Happy New Year all!

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