Belgian beer fermentation temp steps

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Jhedrick83

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I love Belgians and when I make them, I tend to start fermentation around 64 and when it starts to slow, add a degree each day until I get to 68-69. I’ve never let them free rise. For those who brew dubbels, tripels and Quads, how do you structure fermentation temp?
 

thehaze

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Hi there. I love belgian beer and so I brew it. I never control fermentation and let them free rise. I however condition belgian beer in bottles, at a specific temperature ( depending on style ), for a few weeks/months.
 

CascadesBrewer

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For those who brew dubbels, tripels and Quads, how do you structure fermentation temp?
It probably depends a bit on the yeast. I have made several wonderful Trappists with WLP530. The schedule that has worked well for me is to chill to 66F to 68F and pitch the yeast there. I will then let the fermentation temps push the beer up to the 74F to 76F range during active fermentation. As fermentation starts to slow, I will use heat to keep the beer in the 76F to 78F range to finish out. I have found that some Belgian strains will stop working if temperatures start to fall so finishing warm seems to help drive full attenuation.

I have made some very nice Saisons with WLP565 using a very similar strategy.

I made a Tripel with Mangrove Jack's M31. I fermented half with temp control and half at ambient temperatures. The one at ambient temps pushed itself up to the 78F range during fermentation and end up with harsh fusel alcohol character.

Note that "free rise" is a pretty generic term and it will depend a lot on the fermentation environment. A fermenter sitting in 64F room directly on a cool cement floor might never get above 66F, where the same fermenter in a 75F closet might push up to 82F. I usually ferment in my chest freezer chamber, and sometimes I will control the ambient air temperature in the chamber if the beer seems a bit too warm or too cold.
 
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Jhedrick83

Jhedrick83

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It probably depends a bit on the yeast. I have made several wonderful Trappists with WLP530. The schedule that has worked well for me is to chill to 66F to 68F and pitch the yeast there. I will then let the fermentation temps push the beer up to the 74F to 76F range during active fermentation. As fermentation starts to slow, I will use heat to keep the beer in the 76F to 78F range to finish out. I have found that some Belgian strains will stop working if temperatures start to fall so finishing warm seems to help drive full attenuation.

I have made some very nice Saisons with WLP565 using a very similar strategy.

I made a Tripel with Mangrove Jack's M31. I fermented half with temp control and half at ambient temperatures. The one at ambient temps pushed itself up to the 78F range during fermentation and end up with harsh fusel alcohol character.

Note that "free rise" is a pretty generic term and it will depend a lot on the fermentation environment. A fermenter sitting in 64F room directly on a cool cement floor might never get above 66F, where the same fermenter in a 75F closet might push up to 82F. I usually ferment in my chest freezer chamber, and sometimes I will control the ambient air temperature in the chamber if the beer seems a bit too warm or too cold.
So, if I tried your strategy, I should do something like set the temp controller to 72 and then have the +\- set to 6 so the range is 66-78 and let the fermentation temps drive most of the change but use my chamber to keep the ceiling/floor on the fermentation.

I love Belgians but I hate not knowing for 4-12 months how much I like what I brewed!
 

Noob_Brewer

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I haven't driven my yeast different ways so take this with a grain of salt. Im a big fan of the Trappist varieties too but Ive only brewed three Belgian brews (all dubbels which is my favorite but the Belgian dark strong ale is a close second). All three dubbels have had a different yeasts as well - WLP510 Bastogne, WYEAST3787 Trappist High Gravity, and WLP530 Abbey Ale. The WLP530 is my third and about to be kegged on Friday. But for all three Ive taken a "middle of the road" approach with fermentation. Pitch at 65, and increase a degree per day until 72 at one week and then keep it there for about another week as it finishes. All of these have been ferocious in the beginning and then take a little while to finish with this fermentation schedule. But Ive read that these yeasts do like to be warmed up to finish and thats why I took this approach. I imagine that the pitch at ~65 and "let it free rise to whatever it wants" works well as many have posted it does. However, Im interested in knowing what each yeast brings to the table with the same middle of the road Ferm schedule approach and not just get the most expressiveness I can. All three have had great yeast character with this schedule but Bastogne was a little more clean and less "Belgian" than 3787. I loved the 3787. Still waiting to see what WLP530 brings. Once I know, I might try pushing my favorite of the three a little more to get more expressive character from the yeast.

So, I guess, the big question is - how much yeast character/expressiveness do you really want? Personally, I don't want so much yeast character that it is out of balance and completely overtakes the malt (remember I love the dubbels which have great malt character IMO). Some people LOVE the more Belgian yeast character the better! personally, Im aiming for a better balance between the yeast and malt. Even if you follow the "degree per day" approach that I am doing with different Belgian yeasts, you will certainly get great Belgian yeast character in your beer. Then on future beers you might decide to push the yeast more to get more expressiveness. for me, Im having a blast just trying different yeasts at the moment.

Cheers!
 

monkeymath

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Since most compounds relevant for flavour are created during the early stages of fermentation, I doubt the temperature dialed in for a week post-pitch is going to have a noticeable impact.

I'm currently fermenting a saison. Pitched at 22C (the lower end of the strain's recommend temperature range), fermentation kicked off super fast. It started slowing down after only 24 hours, so I increased the temperature by 1 celsius and then again 24 hours later. By that time, the kräusen had already dropped, so this is more about speeding up the super-attenuation than character.

I've never understood just what the heck it's supposed to mean to let it "free rise". You'll always have some ambient temperature, and the wort temperature may be a bit higher, depending on volume.
 

SRJHops

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Since most compounds relevant for flavour are created during the early stages of fermentation, I doubt the temperature dialed in for a week post-pitch is going to have a noticeable impact.

I'm currently fermenting a saison. Pitched at 22C (the lower end of the strain's recommend temperature range), fermentation kicked off super fast. It started slowing down after only 24 hours, so I increased the temperature by 1 celsius and then again 24 hours later. By that time, the kräusen had already dropped, so this is more about speeding up the super-attenuation than character.

I've never understood just what the heck it's supposed to mean to let it "free rise". You'll always have some ambient temperature, and the wort temperature may be a bit higher, depending on volume.
I totally agree that "let free rise" is not great advice, unless the temps are actually rising. Some yeasts generate a lot of heat, some just a little. The real goal should be to control the temp according to your plan.

I also agree that most of the aromas/flavors are created in the first few days of fermentation, so I've never believed in the "raise the temp by one degree each day" method. Like you and others, I pitch at the low end of the yeast's range. I tend to pitch at the "pro rate" (i.e. a lot of yeast), so fermentation starts in less than 12 hours. I will then let it "free rise" (or not) for another 24 hours. If the temps have not risen, I will dial up to the mid range for the yeast, usually around 70, for Day 2-3, then move to the top range for Day 4-5. Then I'll usually go above range by 5 degrees until FG, and above that by 5 degrees for 3 days to make sure fermentation is finished.
 

Bobo1898

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With Wyeast 3787, I pitch and hold at 68 for the first three days, then let it free rise--maybe goes as high as mid 70's--then I use an amphibian ceramic lamp to push it to 85 over the course of another 5 to 6 days (totally 8 or 9 days). I'll hold here for two or three more days before letting it naturally fall back towards 68 for a week or two before crashing/lagering.

To be clear, I don't let it fall til I know it's reached FG, hence holding it so high for the additional days.
 

deuc224

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How long do you all age your for? Ive read anywhere from a month to years. I dont wanna wait that long but im doing one next week and got the 530 all grown and ready to be thrown in.
 

CascadesBrewer

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How long do you all age your for? Ive read anywhere from a month to years. I dont wanna wait that long but im doing one next week and got the 530 all grown and ready to be thrown in.
The ABV is going to drive some of that. A 11% Quad is going to need a little more aging than a 6.5% Dubbel. A good healthy pitch of yeast into oxygenated wort will help to reduce harsh alcohol character.

Check out this mind blowing graph from a Mean Brews video showing a very direct correlation between the age of his Quad and the scores he got in competition.

1638834565168.png
 
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Jhedrick83

Jhedrick83

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How long do you all age your for? Ive read anywhere from a month to years. I dont wanna wait that long but im doing one next week and got the 530 all grown and ready to be thrown in.
I brewed a Dubbel a few months back and “cellared” after bottling. Just cracked up one one at two months on and it’s better than 1 month was and better than fresh. I’ve looking to do a Tripel and a quad in the next couple weeks. Tripel I’ll try to give 4/5 months and the quad I’m planning on year before trying
 

Steverus07

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Just finished fermentation on a Belgian Dark Strong with WLP 530. I set the temp to 68 for a few days and it straight stalled until I let temps rise to the 70s. I use a tilt to monitor activity, so I got to see it all play out.

It picked right back up and I hit my attenuation target, but the proof is in the pudding that letting temps rise on these strains is important not just for the character you want but a full and healthy fermentation.
 

deuc224

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The ABV is going to drive some of that. A 11% Quad is going to need a little more aging than a 6.5% Dubbel. A good healthy pitch of yeast into oxygenated wort will help to reduce harsh alcohol character.

Check out this mind blowing graph from a Mean Brews video showing a very direct correlation between the age of his Quad and the scores he got in competition.

View attachment 751466
2 years?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ya killing me smalls.
 

deuc224

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I brewed a Dubbel a few months back and “cellared” after bottling. Just cracked up one one at two months on and it’s better than 1 month was and better than fresh. I’ve looking to do a Tripel and a quad in the next couple weeks. Tripel I’ll try to give 4/5 months and the quad I’m planning on year before trying
I was thinking of trying to speed up the aging by leaving the beer at room temps on Co2 for a few months to see how it would come out and hope it would speed up the process.
 

SRJHops

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Just finished fermentation on a Belgian Dark Strong with WLP 530. I set the temp to 68 for a few days and it straight stalled until I let temps rise to the 70s. I use a tilt to monitor activity, so I got to see it all play out.

It picked right back up and I hit my attenuation target, but the proof is in the pudding that letting temps rise on these strains is important not just for the character you want but a full and healthy fermentation.
Curious if you happen to know estimated cell count of your pitch?
 
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