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Old 11-24-2013, 06:56 AM   #1
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Default Belgian Fermentation

I'm moving to Belgian style beers (which has been my goal). I've used Wyeast in the past which has always swelled up, and produced vigorous fermentation. My last batch had minimal swelling of the Wyeast package, and the fermentation has been presents but lackluster.

It is day 4. Should I add another pack of active Wyeast (a pack that actually completely swells up)? Or do something else?

Normally I add the prescribed 5oz of sugar before bottling. Recently I heard about "champagne-ing" Belgian style beers, and I'm considering it because of my lackluster fermentation. Documentation had been minimal (or maybe I'm searching for the wrong thing), so I would like to know how much sugar, and yeast I should be adding, and when (before bottling).

Thanks!
Ross

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Old 11-24-2013, 01:53 PM   #2
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i cannot comment as to the champagne technique as I have never done it, however in reading your post I would recommend utilizing a starter procedure for your yeast and not relying solely on the swelling of the Wyeast packet to ferment out a Belgian. This is assuming your brewing some higher gravity beers like the dubbels or tripels. Anything I brew over a starting gravity of 1.050 I try to utilize a starter, preferably active, to get fermentation going relatively fast and to ferment out completely as designed. I know this was not the basis of your question, just some advice if you're not doing this already.

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Old 11-24-2013, 02:05 PM   #3
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If your fermentation has not started past the 72 hour mark pitch another packet of yeast. as Copbrew suggested making a starter the day before is a great idea especially for big brews as mentioned and your brew should be fermenting by late night for early next day.

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Old 11-24-2013, 03:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RosssBrew View Post
I'm moving to Belgian style beers (which has been my goal). I've used Wyeast in the past which has always swelled up, and produced vigorous fermentation. My last batch had minimal swelling of the Wyeast package, and the fermentation has been presents but lackluster.

It is day 4. Should I add another pack of active Wyeast (a pack that actually completely swells up)? Or do something else?
What was your OG, what is the gravity now, and what yeast did you use?

If you have a leak in your bucket seal, it could be tearing through the beer.

Sounds like you under-pitched (sometimes that is desired for a Belgian), so it could take longer to start.

With out a gravity reading, you don't know what is happening, or if there is even a problem.

What temperature is it at. Too cold, and the Belgian yeast will stall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RosssBrew View Post
Normally I add the prescribed 5oz of sugar before bottling. Recently I heard about "champagne-ing" Belgian style beers, and I'm considering it because of my lackluster fermentation. Documentation had been minimal (or maybe I'm searching for the wrong thing), so I would like to know how much sugar, and yeast I should be adding, and when (before bottling).
What is champagne-ing? I assume it is just adding champagne yeast at bottling. That is not required, except for maybe a really big Belgian; 12+% abv. Your Belgian yeast will be fine for bottling.

Even with adding champagne yeast, you would still need to add priming sugar. The Belgian yeast will have eaten everything any champagne yeast would eat.

Just prime as normal, no need to add any additional yeast.
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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My experience with smack packs is they MUST be used to create a starter otherwise they simply suck.

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Old 11-26-2013, 06:53 PM   #6
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My experience with smack packs is they MUST be used to create a starter otherwise they simply suck.
You should make a starter with ANY liquid yeast, smack pack or vial.
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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A big issue with Belgian strains from Wyeast...temperature. Which strain are you using and what temperature?
With any smack pack, its best to get a decent size starter going prior to pitching. If you under pitch severely it will limit yeast reproduction or outright kill them and worse yet could lead to flavor issues down the road. Depending on which Belgian style you are going for, you would want different size starters...with a quad you are going to need a really good starter of at least 2 pints of yeast slurry to really get it going. Otherwise they are going to hit all that sugar and just go into overload.

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Old 11-27-2013, 12:26 PM   #8
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You should make a starter with ANY liquid yeast, smack pack or vial.
All the more reason I use dry yeast rehydrated and still make great beer... Sometimes I have to use 1.5 packs for bigger beers but it's still cheaper than one smackpack and much easier.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:36 PM   #9
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All the more reason I use dry yeast rehydrated and still make great beer... Sometimes I have to use 1.5 packs for bigger beers but it's still cheaper than one smackpack and much easier.
Dry is significantly cheaper then smack packs at any of my most frequented shops. I only use the packs when going for a particular yeast profile, but for Belgian styles and some other ales, I prefer the smack packs with a starter. Sometime very soon now I'll be building a stir plate to get a better count on my yeast. Shouldn't be too hard to make one, just a bit of time I don't currently have.
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RosssBrew View Post
I'm moving to Belgian style beers (which has been my goal). I've used Wyeast in the past which has always swelled up, and produced vigorous fermentation. My last batch had minimal swelling of the Wyeast package, and the fermentation has been presents but lackluster.
See bolded section. If it is fermenting, it's fermenting, leave it alone and let it do its job.

In the future make sure you are pitching the proper amount of yeast. A single smack pack (that is as fresh as it can possibly be) only has about half the viable cells you need for a 1.050 beer, and the higher the gravity the more cells you need. Some styles (Belgians included) can benefit from a little underpitching, but a starter would still be recommended.
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