Belgian fermentation temperature profile

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MacBruver

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I've searched a bit on this, but I can't really find a definitive guide. I've got a belgian pale ale fermenting with WLP550. It was oxygenated pretty heavily, and within 24 hours it was going crazy, blowing off a whole bunch. The temperature was around 75. At 36 hours, the temperature had crept up to 78, at which point I wrapped it in a wet towel, and opened the window. The next morning, doh! Temperature had dropped to 67. Since then, the yeast has been reaaaally sluggish. I've got the temperature back up to about 73 or so, but it's still real slow.

Now, I know my first mistake was letting the temperature stay that high during initial fermentation (at least from what I've read). What I have found is that you should start it lower, 68-70, and ramp it up towards the end of fermentation to the higher end, to get the belgian character. I'm not too concerned about this batch, I think it'll be fine, but for next time- what kind of time frame are we talking here? How long should the temperature be maintained at the lower end of things?
 

jkarp

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I keep my Belgian fermentations cool for 48 hours and then let them do what they will. My most recent Delirium Tremens clone started at 67, quickly climbed to 80 on day 3, and finished with 92% attenuation by the end of 5 days.
 

Grinder12000

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I have read you should pitch at 64 and then slowly raise the temps as fermentation progresses.
 

SumnerH

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I have read you should pitch at 64 and then slowly raise the temps as fermentation progresses.
I heard an interview with Stan Hieronymous where he said that's slightly misleading--most of the Trappists pitch around 64 and let the yeast ferment as it likes. They don't actually intentionally raise the ambient temperature, they just leave it alone and don't try to cool it off to keep the fermentation temp down.

So they'll get upwards of 70, maybe 75 with some yeasts, but they never heat things themselves--it's all because of the yeast's activity.
 
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MacBruver

MacBruver

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You know that's what I figured... I mean hell, they used to just leave these things sitting next to a window. I'm tempted to run a bit of an experiment with this yeast when this batch is done- brew a basic dubbel or something, and let one run wild and keep the other controlled to see what kind of difference it makes.
 

carnevoodoo

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I would only be concerned with the swings in temp on this beer. With Belgian yeast, you can just let it rise. You'll know next time, but with the Belgians, it is a whole different ball game.
 
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MacBruver

MacBruver

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Cool. I just tasted it, and this is going to be a very good brew. It went from 1.061 to 1.009 in less than 6 days! This sucker is done. Even at this stage, it is really drinkable. I can't wait until it's really ready!
 

Brewme

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I just finished my first Belgian Golden Strong Ale and kept it at 68 for the first 2 weeks, the 65 after that (per the recipe I found online). My La Fin Du Monde clone turned out fantastic without letting it go hot. With this new info, maybe I'll just let that sucker rip!
 

carnevoodoo

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Cool. I just tasted it, and this is going to be a very good brew. It went from 1.061 to 1.009 in less than 6 days! This sucker is done. Even at this stage, it is really drinkable. I can't wait until it's really ready!
1.009 isn't necessarily the lowest they can go. This yeast is very attenuative and you should be able to get it down to 1.005 or so.
 
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Read "brew like a monk" . Great info in there.

Don't try and bring the temp down once it goes off. Belgian yeasts tend to crash if you try to reduce the temp. Better off pitching at a normal temp and letting it go. Depending on the brewery, they pitch from 64F to mid 70's. I'd have to find my copy to tell you what the upper pitch range was.

My ambient temp runs from 21 to 24C (70-75), mostly around 21c. I've been using saf 33 lately (cause liquid yeast is all mail order here and I have had some bad packs when shipped in the summer, and hell, bricks of yeast are so much cheaper) and this range works for me.

One tip is not to over pitch Belgian yeast. Trappists tend to under pitch slightly (I think about 75% of normal) to raise phenolic profiles. More so than via higher temps.

I hope this makes sense. I'm rather tired right now.
 
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MacBruver

MacBruver

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1.009 isn't necessarily the lowest they can go. This yeast is very attenuative and you should be able to get it down to 1.005 or so.
Hmm... I'll keep an eye on it. At 1.009, that's 85% attenuation, which is at the high end of the range listed on white labs' site. I'll test it again tomorrow to see how it's doing.

Read "brew like a monk" . Great info in there.
Excellent... I'll have to order a copy. This is the first belgian I've brewed, but I'll be looking to do many more.

Don't try and bring the temp down once it goes off. Belgian yeasts tend to crash if you try to reduce the temp. Better off pitching at a normal temp and letting it go. Depending on the brewery, they pitch from 64F to mid 70's. I'd have to find my copy to tell you what the upper pitch range was.
Yeah, I think that's exactly what I had happen. It was blowing off like crazy, and the morning after the temperature drop, it was very lazy. It doesn't seem like it stuck, but the fermentation was much, much less vigorous. And after tasting it, I'm definitely not worried that the beer would end up with too much belgian character.

My ambient temp runs from 21 to 24C (70-75), mostly around 21c. I've been using saf 33 lately (cause liquid yeast is all mail order here and I have had some bad packs when shipped in the summer, and hell, bricks of yeast are so much cheaper) and this range works for me.
I've got the bucket in an insulated shopping bag with a heating pad, and it is staying right about 72-73 now. I got it up off of the tile floor which also seemed to help. I am probably going to re-use this yeast, so I am going to try this setup for the full fermentation on that batch... well, after the high krausen subsides.. this stuff doesn't need any help staying warm then!

One tip is not to over pitch Belgian yeast. Trappists tend to under pitch slightly (I think about 75% of normal) to raise phenolic profiles. More so than via higher temps.
I did a small starter for this batch (1 liter) but next time I'm just going to pitch only part of the slurry. Almost everybody at the brew day had a starter, but the head brewer at the brewery we were at says he always underpitches for the same reason. I contemplated pitching only part of it but in the end I just chucked it all in there.

I hope this makes sense. I'm rather tired right now.
Definitely! Thanks for the info and the pointers to the book, I'll be picking that one up.
 
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