Belgian Strong Ale Fermentation

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

shotgunsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
62
Reaction score
5
I'm building out my ideal Belgian Tripel fermentation schedule using Strong Belgian Ale yeast: Wyeast 1388. Asking for your input, so we can all improve.

For example, a tripel I am currently fermenting which began at OG 1.084. We added lots of clear candi syrup.

It has spent 10 days in primary:
Start temp: 69F
at 24 hours: 72F
at 48 hours: 72F
at 72 hours: 68F (turned on heat belt)
for the next 5 days: held at 69F-70F (where it is now)

I'm planning to raise the temp to at least 72F, hold for 5 days, then drop to 69F for another 5 days. Followed by one month in the secondary, not sure what temp.

Should I raise the temperature even higher?
Should it be in the primary longer?
Should I add fresh yeast (which I didn't last time) at either racking or bottling?
 

thehaze

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
2,197
Reaction score
991
Location
Iasi, Romania
Why are you doing secondary? There is no benefit from doing so and actually you risk oxidizing the beer even further, by transferring the beer from one container to another.

I don't understand the fermentation schedule. At 10 days, that beer should have been completely fermented out. You can allow it a few more days at a higher temperature, for the yeast to clean after itself. At day 15-16, you can keg / bottle / can the beer and condition it, if that's something you want / read you should do.

I never added yeast at bottling, even when my OG was higher than 1.090. My beers develop satisfactory carbonation at day 5 in the bottle. 5 days is definitely not enough for the beer to come on its own in terms of aroma and flavour ( strictly more complex, malt-forward beers and not applicable for hop-forward styles ), but I am using it as an example to let you know that pitching more yeast is not something you need/have to, but can do, if unsure of your process. It would be a shame to lose such a big beer due to not adding 2 gr of yeast at bottling/packaging, so the decision is yours.
 
Last edited:
OP
S

shotgunsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
62
Reaction score
5
This is great, thanks! You never rack any of your beer styles? I had been concerned about developing off flavors. I've seen your take before, so perhaps I will forego racking to secondary, then.

15 days seems like a short total fermentation time for a belgian yeast to complete, but I'll check the gravity at that point - If it's below 1.018 or so, we will bottle! Thinking of adding enough dextrose to carb to 2.7 or so.

What temp would you recommend finishing primary fermentation at?
 

Comfort_Zone

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
437
Reaction score
155
Chiming in here. If I do a secondary I do it before fermentation is over to help scavenge oxygen. Other than that I don't see much of a point.
 

deadwolfbones

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
1,294
Reaction score
1,147
Location
Bend
Only time I secondary is when racking onto a huge quantity of fruit, and sometimes not even then.
 
OP
S

shotgunsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
62
Reaction score
5
Hmmm, the more you know. Alright, never racking again. Thanks guys!

Thought on best temperature for this to finish off, and how long?

It's been 11 days and currently sitting at 71F. Maybe I raise it to 74F for another 10 days?
 

Big Monk

Trappist Please! 🍷
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
2,192
Reaction score
1,140
15 days seems like a short total fermentation time for a belgian yeast to complete...
My Trappist and Duvel type beers are done in 4-5 days. 15 days is a long fermentation. If it’s taking longer than 7 days, you need healthier yeast.
 
OP
S

shotgunsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
62
Reaction score
5
My Trappist and Duvel type beers are done in 4-5 days. 15 days is a long fermentation. If it’s taking longer than 7 days, you need healthier yeast.
Wow, not sure if what I've read in the past has been misinformed or just old information. My mind is officially blown that the best way to ferment a Belgian is 4-7 days in primary and then straight in the bottle.

How do you bottle condition yours? (at a certain temp? how long?)
 

Big Monk

Trappist Please! 🍷
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
2,192
Reaction score
1,140
Wow, not sure if what I've read in the past has been misinformed or just old information. My mind is officially blown that the best way to ferment a Belgian is 4-7 days in primary and then straight in the bottle.

How do you bottle condition yours? (at a certain temp? how long?)
I have a hybrid approach where I bottle straight off the fermenter with about 1 gravity point left and use the remaining extract and supplemental sugar to carb the beer.

In most normal cases you verify final gravity, crash the beer, then add fresh yeast and sugar. Put it somewhere in the low 70s and they should carb up very quickly.
 

thehaze

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
2,197
Reaction score
991
Location
Iasi, Romania
Raise it to 74-75F and leave for 3-5 days. If after those 5 days, the gravity didn't change and probably wont, you know it's finished. You can then safely bottle. Carbonation levels are up to you. Belgian beers are known and best enjoyed with a slightly elevated level. 2.7 vol CO2 is OK, although on the low side. Any regular, brown bottle can easily take up to 3-3.2 vol CO2. ( the bigger, thicker ones can hold up even more )

But do add some yeast at bottling. It will give you peace of mind and make it a sure thing, that there's enough yeast to referment in the bottle.

Regarding taking gravity samples: don't take too many, as any contact with the beer is a risk you take towards introducing O2 in your beer. Take one sample after 10-12 days. When you know how every yeast behaves ( from those you usually use ) and how many days they usually ferment for, then you will find out that 1, maybe 2 gravity samples are needed for most beers.
 

deadwolfbones

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
1,294
Reaction score
1,147
Location
Bend
If you're bottling after 7 days (or even 3-4 weeks) and you had a healthy fermentation, there's absolutely no need to add extra yeast. I recently bottled an 11.5% quad that sat in primary for 5 weeks and it carbed up within a week and a half without any extra yeast.
 

Big Monk

Trappist Please! 🍷
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
2,192
Reaction score
1,140
If you're bottling after 7 days (or even 3-4 weeks) and you had a healthy fermentation, there's absolutely no need to add extra yeast. I recently bottled an 11.5% quad that sat in primary for 5 weeks and it carbed up within a week and a half without any extra yeast.
When I bottle with remaining extract, I obviously don’t add any extra yeast. I didn’t really want to go into the nuts and bolts of that technique as it’s a bit advanced and I seem to get skewered on forums every time I do!
 
OP
S

shotgunsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
62
Reaction score
5
I checked the gravity (finally) last night. After 14 days it has dropped from 1.084 to 1.018, currently at 72F. So I'll juice it slightly to 74F for a few days before bottling in a week. So 21 days on primary before bottling, hopefully your advice will help us improve the final product!
 
OP
S

shotgunsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
62
Reaction score
5
After two weeks in primary, we prepared to bottle but it was way too cloudy so we decided to rack to see if it would clear, after a few days im noticing this white stuff on top, it was down to 1.010 so the beer should clock in around 9.5 %. I'm guessing this is just from the yeast still being active, it couldn't be an infection could it?
IMG_3713.JPG
 

Comfort_Zone

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
437
Reaction score
155
After two weeks in primary, we prepared to bottle but it was way too cloudy so we decided to rack to see if it would clear, after a few days im noticing this white stuff on top, it was down to 1.010 so the beer should clock in around 9.5 %. I'm guessing this is just from the yeast still being active, it couldn't be an infection could it?View attachment 608866
Looks like small yeast rafts. The drop in gravity is expected as I'm fairly certain that strain is diastatic.
 

Stand

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2011
Messages
704
Reaction score
360
Location
Indian Trail
Wyeast 1388 is a low flocc yeast. Since I keg I would cold crash and fine it or leave in primary longer to give yeast some time to drop, but you have already left it awhile.

Cheers!
 
Last edited:
Top