Belgian Tripel?

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bharper78

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I am about to try my first all grain and I got a Belgian Tripel kit from NB. I have a few questions before I get started:
-What are pros and cons of a single temp mash vs a stepped temp mash?
-I obviously need a yeast starter, but I can't decide when to pitch it. Do I pitch during active fermentation or after it is complete? If I pitch during active, seems like it will throw my wort volume off by a good bit.
-Should I hold back some of my starter to re pitch before bottling? If so, how do you store the yeast?
-Should the sugar go in during the boil or after primary is complete?
-I know I am supposed to age the high gravity brew, but how do you know how long to age it? I assume that the bulk of the aging time is in secondary.

Thanks!
 

lordbeermestrength

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as part of full disclosure, I must admit I have never brewed an all grain batch before. But I read a lot:)

If you are planning on doing a trippel, you will probably want to single temp mash unless you can easily step up temp. It is better for proper sugar conversion to step up but not nessesary. You will however want to mash low, i.e., in the mid 140's. This will make your wort highly fermentable.

As for starters, you will definately want to pitch it BEFORE fermentation. Thats the whole point of making a starter, so that yeast won't have to go through a lengthy reproductive phase and they can get right to making alcohol!

I wouldn't worry about holding on to your starter. Personally I use dry yeast for bottling if my beer has been conditioning for a long time (longer than 2 months) but I don't think you should have a problem just adding priming sugar. It doesn't really matter what kind of yeast you use for bottle priming, in my opinion. I know of people that will secondary for over 3 months and still have no problems carbing. As long as you aren't impatient...

For the sugar, you can add it whenever. If your OG is going to be very high, like around 1.08 or so, I would add it after fermentation has started, but its probably not critical if you have a good starter. I beleive Duvel adds their sugar after primary or sometime during primary, but a lot of belgian breweries add it during the boil, so it's really up to you.

And as far as aging goes, you can secondary it for a couple months but it will probably get much better in the bottle over a 6 month period or so.
 

Bob

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I am about to try my first all grain and I got a Belgian Tripel kit from NB. I have a few questions before I get started:
-What are pros and cons of a single temp mash vs a stepped temp mash?
A step mash will give you fuller reduction of starches to sugars, as well as reducing haze precursors. I presume the base malt is Pils. However, since star-bright clarity isn't an issue with Tripel, I shouldn't bother. Just do an single-infusion mash.

-I obviously need a yeast starter, but I can't decide when to pitch it. Do I pitch during active fermentation or after it is complete? If I pitch during active, seems like it will throw my wort volume off by a good bit.
I always ran up the starter and let it ferment out to build up a nice thick slurry. Then I'd pitch the slurry instead of the active starter. That's one way around it. One crucial piece of advice: do not overpitch this beer. One of the hallmarks of Belgian ales is plenty of yeast-ester production. Overpitching, even a little bit, means significantly reduced ester production. Use the Mr Malty calculator.

-Should I hold back some of my starter to re pitch before bottling? If so, how do you store the yeast?
Unnecessary. There will be sufficient yeast still in suspension to carbonate, even if the beer drops star-bright. You might have to age it longer in the bottles to develop carbonation, but it'll come.

-Should the sugar go in during the boil or after primary is complete?
I presume you mean some sort of candisugar, not the 5 oz. of dextrose (bottling sugar). Yes, sugars not involved in bottling go in the kettle for at least ten minutes.

-I know I am supposed to age the high gravity brew, but how do you know how long to age it? I assume that the bulk of the aging time is in secondary.
You can age in bulk or in the bottle. Each method has adherents, each method has pros and cons. Me, I'd age in bottle.

How long is entirely dependent on your tastes. If you think it tastes best at three months, have at it. Six months, ditto. A year, the same. Such strong beers develop different characteristics over time. That's why I prefer bottle-aging: I can have a bottle here, a bottle there, and taste the beer at different stages in its development. Otherwise I have to keep sampling the carboy, never mind tying up a fermenter for a year.

Cheers,

Bob
 
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