Experiences with WLP550

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xaphoo

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Four days ago I brewed a beer which was both my first "big" beer and my first Belgian; I've been watching it like a hawk to make sure it comes out to my satisfaction. It's an extract Tripel made of a mix of Pilsner and 2-Row extract, plus about 15% candi sugar, to an OG of 1.080; hops are Vanguard and Styrian Goldings, and Sterling at flameout to a total IBU of about 20.

I'm using WLP550 Belgian Ale yeast... I made a 2L starter which was healthy, and pitched an extra vial just in case. Oxygenation was just shaking the carboy for 10 minutes before pitching (at 68 or so). Fermentation took off in 3 hours, and dropped to 1.055 in a day, 1.035 in two days, and two days after that has slowed down -- it's presently at 1.024, and the airlock is still bubbling about once every 2 seconds.

My question is about the yeast: how does it behave? Should I feed it anything to make sure it drops to at least below 1.016 (I've added half a tsp of Fermaid K)? Should I rouse it? Should I put it near a space heater or something (it's been fermenting in the low 70s)? How does this yeast vary at different temps? How long do I need to wait to get it to full attenuation of at least 80% ( => 1.016 FG)?

I solicit all your experiences with WLP550, positive, negative, good beers, bad beers, good recipes for the yeast, etc... If this tripel attenuates all the way down think I will be using this yeast a lot -- my gravity samples taste delicious :)
 

DeathBrewer

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i use the WLP550 for almost all my belgian beers. i really like it...it's cleaner than some of the other belgian yeasts...doesn't have the crazy phenolics but still gives really nice character.

first of all, quit sampling it. leave it alone. something that big should sit in the primary for at least a month. i know you're curious how it's coming along, but there is no need to take samples like that.

as long as your airlock is still bubbling, you've got a good co2 blanket on there...i would give it a nice swirl over the next few days and keep those yeast working. i've had troubles in the past with it crapping out on me and needing to be roused. another thing i do is add my sugar at a later time. this allows you to "step up" the beer, effectively using it as a giant starter and works well to make sure the yeast is not stressed.

that being said, it looks like you're doing just fine from your grav readings...it's tooting along like it should.

don't rush this one. leave it in primary for at least 3 weeks, let it secondary for a month, let it sit in bottles for 6 months. trust me.
:mug:
 

Saccharomyces

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All Belgians need at least a three week primary. They seem to ferment like a mofo for the first few days but then have a really long, slow tail where they chew through the last 10 or 15 gravity points.

I'm planning to leave my tripel (OG 1.090) in the primary four weeks, and secondary it long enough to infuse the amount of oak flavor I want from chips.
 

cuinrearview

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This thread is quite timely for me, as a brewed a blond on saturday with this yeast, also my first belgian, with plans to put a tripel on the cake. This yeast started faster than any liquid I've used. I woke up fourteen hours after pitching to a two-finger krausen. It's two days after pitching almost to the minute and the foam is dropping, but the convection current inside is very vigorous. It stabilized at 68 degrees after putting it in my storage container and water, and I've let it climb to 71 degrees since. It really hasn't been hard to control, but I'm done adding ice to the water because even if it gets to room temp here (74) it'll be OK. The smell from the airlock has been pretty neutral, at least to a guy tore up with allergies. I'm really looking forward to my dip into the pool of belgian beers.
 

Saccharomyces

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To illustrate the point, I racked a Belgian Pale at two weeks, when I thought it was done... Wyeast Ardennes strain on a 1.060 wort. A few weeks later I hooked up the cobra tap to get a sample from the keg, and the tap nearly blew apart from the pressure. The keg must have been over 50psi, because it had actually dropped the gravity even more after racking. If I would have bottled it after two weeks rather than kegging, I would have had bottle bombs.
 

bikegeek

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My only experience with this yeast saw my beer go from 15*P to 2.5*P (roughly 1.060 to 1.010) at 65F in 3 weeks. I wouldn't call the results typical though as I have a friend who is a professional microbiologist and he grows up all my starters for me in his lab. :D
 

DeathBrewer

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i also let my belgians ferment completely out at about 65°F

once it's close to being done, i'll bring it out, rouse and let it rise to warmer temps (room temp ~75°F

this idea that you raise the temp MAY work to give you slightly better attenuation, but i think primary fermntation in the 70s will give you too much fruitiness and hangover, even for a belgian beer.

i couldn't believe how clean my last dark strong ale tasted at secondary. which reminds me...it's about time to bottle that sucker :)
 

jkarp

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All Belgians need at least a three week primary. They seem to ferment like a mofo for the first few days but then have a really long, slow tail where they chew through the last 10 or 15 gravity points.
I've done a lot of Belgians, from wits to tripels, mostly using bottle harvested yeasts from beers I toted back from Belgium, and my brews never take more than 5 or so days to reach FG. That said, I do leave tripels hanging out on the yeast for 2-3 weeks to give them time to clean up their mess a bit.
 

Saccharomyces

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Sounds like you have a nice big healthy starter to get FG in that amount of time. I could probably achieve that too but I try to underpitch slightly with my Belgians to make sure I get plenty of yeast goodies. So far I have been quite happy with the results.

I pitched a 1.090 Tripel Saturday with the Duvel strain (Wyeast 1388) at 14M cells/mL rate. That is about double the pitching rate I used in my Wit, but is still technically underpitching a bit since the Tripel is a 20 plato wort. It has already slowed down to 6-7 bubbles per minute... on Sunday afternoon it was going at a rate of 200 per minute!
 

jkarp

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I've got a 1.086 tripel that I used harvested Chimay on doing some quality time in the cold conditioning fridge now. At the peak of fermentation, you could actually feel the wind shooting out the vents of the airlock. Belgians are fun!
 

DeathBrewer

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I've done a lot of Belgians, from wits to tripels, mostly using bottle harvested yeasts from beers I toted back from Belgium, and my brews never take more than 5 or so days to reach FG. That said, I do leave tripels hanging out on the yeast for 2-3 weeks to give them time to clean up their mess a bit.
that's the idea, MOST beers should have at least two weeks in primary, unless you're filtering. belgians i leave longer...those last few points will drop down and leave them drier and the yeasties do their business cleaning up instead of leaving a thick mess for you to drink. then secondary to clear up even more. i think it really makes a difference for belgian styles.
 

jkarp

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that's the idea, MOST beers should have at least two weeks in primary, unless you're filtering. belgians i leave longer...those last few points will drop down and leave them drier and the yeasties do their business cleaning up instead of leaving a thick mess for you to drink. then secondary to clear up even more. i think it really makes a difference for belgian styles.
Agreed for tripels, but definitely not wits. Leave a wit in the fermenter for more than two weeks and the beer's already past its prime IMO. My wits go from ingredients to my belly in 7 days, 14 tops. By three weeks, I'm already missing that characteristic wit freshness out of the keg.
 

DeathBrewer

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not, not wits, although i think drinking them within 6 weeks of brew day is just fine.

i'm talking about strong ales, higher gravity beers in general, not even necessarily belgians, but definitely for triples, dark strong ales, etc.
 

abru17

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I have used WLP550 for two tripels. Both times it went from 1.082 to 1.005 in two weeks. On both of them I added the sugar just after peak fermentation to get it started again.

I would def recommend incremental feeding.

First of all you don't need to pick as much because you are starting with a smaller beer.

Secondly the yeast goes all out on the more difficult wort sugars first and then the simple sugars prolong a very active fermentaton.


I also mash all my High-Gravity Belgians with 2.0 qts water/ lbs of grain :D
 

HOOTER

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I just bottled my Belgian strong dark tonight in which I used WLP550. I did a poor job of temp control on this one, with temps around 75-78 degrees. The flavor and aroma was overwhelmingly yeasty, for lack of a better description. It was very spicy but surprisingly no banana. I guess I'll leave it alone for at least a couple months and see what happens.
 

AnOldUR

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i'll probably start opening bottles in about a year :D
. . . . Well, it's been a year. I'll bet impatience got the best of you and it all gone. How was it? :cross:






Pitched WLP550 on a 1.084 Belgian Dark Strong this past Sunday. My first time using this strain and first time with a White Labs yeast. Found this thread while researching the yeast to work out a final strategy. Lots of good information in this old thread. With a year of experience is there anything to add to it? Thanks guys!
 

BGBM77

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Do you think if I am doing a straight Belgium Ale that it will take 3 weeks in the primary or is this just for a triple?
 

BGBM77

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8lbs amber malt extract
1.lb dark belgium candy sugar
1/2 lb cane sugar
Hallertauer Hops 2.0oz boil
Hallertauer Hops 1.0oz finish
WLP550 yeast
avg temp in primary is around 68 to 70


How long do you think this should take before I can bottle? (note: this is only my second batch of home brew)

right now the airlock is bubbling at every 20 to 30 seconds.

It's been 1 week so I am trying to speed fermentation up. I tried using a space heater to warm things up. When I warm it up the activity in the airlock doubles so I am guessing this is gonna take another week.

any thoughts anyone?
 

Gibbnal

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Simple is better (and easy). Keep the temp stable - 66 to 70 is pretty common. Don't worry about ramping it up. Give it a full 3 weeks and then bottle/keg. You wont be second guessing it by then. And start a new thread next time. This one is 2 years old.
 

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