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Old 11-16-2008, 06:26 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Schedule for Big Beers/Belgians

Hey all,

Been reading the forums for a few months now but this is my first post. Thanks in advance for any help!

Anyways, 2.5 weeks ago I brewed my fourth batch of beer and first high gravity brew, a belgian golden strong ale. The recipe was (more or less) based off the golden strong ale recipe in the Palmer/Zainasheff book. I pitched two vials of liquid yeast: one vial of WLP530 and one vial of WLP500. The SG was 1.075 and now after 2.5 weeks in the primary its at 1.014 (hoping for it to go down to at least 1.011). Also, it tastes great; I'm really, really happy with and excited about it.

Anyways my question is this: what exactly do i do next? I have been really pleased with my results so far using only a single-vessel fermentation routine and originally planned on just giving this one 4 weeks or so in the primary then bottling. However, several people are telling me that for big beers/belgians I should consider racking, both for clarity and improved taste. I'm hearing a lot of conflicting advice and right now and am somewhat unsure about what to do next.

Is it generally recommended to rack big beers/belgians or will it not make that big of a difference? Moreover, is it usually recommended to store it cold in order to improve clarity?

Thanks!

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Old 11-17-2008, 07:22 AM   #2
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Racking the beer is advised. I'm not sure who out there would recommend NOT racking... The only place I have seen that is in beginner books that try to make brewing very easy but cutting corners.

Here's a suggestion, try brewing one of your previous recipes. This time rack to secondary after fermentation settles down. Then compare results for clarity and flavor.

Let us know how it goes!

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Old 11-17-2008, 07:25 AM   #3
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Gelatin has worked for me in the secondary to help clarify. Just boil a pint of water, let it cool a little, then add a tsp of gelatin. Let it dissolve and cool some more then add into your secondary.

By the way, make sure to have as little head space as possible in the secondary, the oxygen will screw up your beer at this point. I ferment in a 6.5 gallon primary and rack into a 5 gallon secondary.

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Old 11-17-2008, 01:42 PM   #4
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I almost never secondary, but I secondaried my tripel after a 4 week primary because this yeast isn't very flocculant (it looked like a hefe). Of course, you don't have to secondary it, if you don't mind a quarter inch of yeast in the bottom of your bottles, you can go straight to the bottle. Gelatin is also a good suggestion if you want it to be clear. Me, I don't care if my Belgians are cloudy with yeast. I consider it part of the style.

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Old 11-17-2008, 02:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larrybrewer View Post
Racking the beer is advised. I'm not sure who out there would recommend NOT racking... The only place I have seen that is in beginner books that try to make brewing very easy but cutting corners.


????????

Sorry, but many of us leave our beers in primary for a month. The yeast actually then has the opportunity to clean up the byproducts of it's own fermentation, and has been know to improve the quality of our beers...

The old autolysis "get it off the yeast cake" bogeyman has pretty much been proven wrong...Especially by John Palmer, no less...


Now back to the original question...

After you get it down to it's desired gravity, and let it sit in primary for at least a further week to clear (thinking a month here) your choice would be to bulk or bottle condition the beer....if you decide to bulk condition it, then I would indeed rack it to a secondary/bright tank for a couple months....

This is a pretty big beer, so it's going to need to mellow for a long time...Are you shooting for 6 months? A year?

I would consider secondarying it for at least 2 months, maybe more then bottle and let it condition further...
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:33 PM   #6
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For a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, I would rack and lager it for a few weeks. Here's the schedule I picked out of Brew Like a Monk for Duvel:

Cool wort to 60dF. Pitch yeast at 61-64dF. Slowly raise fermentation temp to 82dF (total fermentation time = 5 days or 120 hours).
Lager at 30-31dF for 3 weeks. Carbonate bottles at 75dF for 2 weeks. Then store bottles at 41dF for 6 weeks before drinking.

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Old 11-17-2008, 02:51 PM   #7
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If you are following "Brewing Classic Styles" JZ states in the front of the book that he doesn't rack his beers to a secondary and he doesn't recommend doing so for his recipes unless it is stated in the instructions.

For most of his high OG Belgian recipes he states to ferment around 64 F and slowly raise the temp to 70 F over the course of a week. After fermentation is complete carbonate the beer to 3 to 4 volumes (or whatever the style calls for) and allow to lager for 1 month at 45 to 50 degrees.

I have his triple (OG 1.081) in my primary right now and i'll probably let it stay in primary for a month or so. Then straight to a keg, let it age for god knows how long, then in the kegerator for a month before I even try it.

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Old 11-17-2008, 03:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rh348877 View Post
For most of his high OG Belgian recipes he states to ferment around 64 F and slowly raise the temp to 70 F over the course of a week. After fermentation is complete carbonate the beer to 3 to 4 volumes (or whatever the style calls for) and allow to lager for 1 month at 45 to 50 degrees.
But what does he say for bottlers to do...to bottle and lager in the bottle for a month?
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
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But what does he say for bottlers to do...to bottle and lager in the bottle for a month?
He doesn't really say. At the beginning of his book he states that he recommends kegging unless otherwise stated in the instructions for certain recipes.

Of course not everyone can keg so i guess you have to take his advice with a grain of salt.
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I would consider secondarying it for at least 2 months, maybe more then bottle and let it condition further...
This is some solid advice and my plan. I did a Triple 3 months go (1 month in the primary and now 2 months in a secondary) I would like to leave it longer but I need the carboy

The question is when moving to the bottles do I need to re-pitch the yeast?
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