Originally Posted by mithion
Normally, Belgian beers are fermented warmer with typical temperatures somewhere in the mid 70s. For this beer, I'd go cooler, maybe high 60s. A Belgian pale ale is a more delicate beer than the traditional trappist ale. You'll probably want some of that "funkyness" (after all, you want to brew a beer that will distinguish itself from the regular snpa) but you don't want to over do it. A simple accent will be delicious.
It's not as simple as that. A widespread practice for Belgian brewers is to pitch much cooler, say 60-68, then let the temp rise on its own over 5 days or so into the mid 70s and even into the low 80s. BUT, that crucial early stage is when most of the esters and fusels are formed. Pitching cooler as they do helps avoid excessive amounts of these fermentation byproducts.
From Brew Like a Monk:
Chimay is pitched at 68, then rises to 81-82 over 4 days.
Duvel is pitched at 61-64, then rises to 79-84 over 120 hours.
Orval is pitched at 57, may rise to 72, 4 days.
Rochefort is pitched at 68, rises to 73, 7 days.
Westmalle is pitched at 64, rises to 68, 5 to 6 days.
Westvleteren is pitched at 68, rises to 82 to 84, 4 to 6 days.
I tried this sort of technique on a beer around Christmas and came out fantastic. Using Wyeast 1388 (Duvel strain), I pitched at 65, then raised the temp 2 degrees F every 12 hours until I got to 77, then left it at 77 until I hit the 2 week mark. The beer was 7.5% abv, but the alcohol was so soft it seemed like less. It still had alcohol flavor but it just wasn't hot at all. Hard to tell on the esters as this one was packed with Ginger and Grapefruit zest.