Fermentation Start Too Quick? (Too Short Lag Time)

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mthelm85

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I am brewing a Saison using Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes and I made a 1.5L starter per Mr. Malty's calculator. This starter was more active than any other I have made as it developed a thin krausen layer (none of my starters have ever had krausen) so I pitched it about 24 hours in at peak activity (@ 74 degrees) and fermentation took off like a rocket.

There was visible movement in the carboy and rapid airlock activity after just 2 hours. After 12 hours I had krausen that was growing literally by the minute which eventually fell back down 48 hours in. I'm not even 72 hours in and the fermentation has slowed back down (about 1 bubble/minute in my airlock).

I downloaded the Jamil Show podcast about how to brew Saisons but only after my beer had been fermenting for about 24 hours. According to Jamil, I should have pitched at about 68 and then slowly ramped up the temp. to 80 over the course of 5 or 6 days but that's water under the bridge at this point.

What has me a bit worried is that Jamil said that too short of a lag time can actually be bad as the yeast growth stage is where many of the flavors are produced (critical to a Saison), so if fermentation starts too fast you might not get those flavors.

I don't get it though, I didn't over-pitch (at least I don't think I did), I pitched exactly as directed by the Mr. Malty calculator (created by Jamil) but you could have used my carboy + blowoff tube as a trolling motor on a boat after just a few hours.

Anybody have experience with this? For a style that depends so much on yeast flavor I would think under-pitching might not be that bad. Has anyone ever had such a quick ferment and noticed that their beer lacked the yeast-produced flavors?
 

eastoak

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i wouldn't worry. recently i've started to pay more attention to yeast pitching rates and all of my beers have started much faster than before, often within 3 hrs. another variable has been 1 to 1.5 minutes of pure O2.
 

RIT_Warrior

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Mr Malty's calculator is based upon the correct pitch rate for most beers, and you should use it for most beers. Belgians are sort of a different beast. Most Belgian brewers pitch at a lower rate than other brewers specifically because they want to stress the yeast.

I don't think the beer you make will be bad by any stretch of the imagination, but you might want to think about pitching less yeast than normal for the next batch. Maybe making a 1L starter instead of a 1.5L, for instance.
 
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mthelm85

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Mr Malty's calculator is based upon the correct pitch rate for most beers, and you should use it for most beers. Belgians are sort of a different beast. Most Belgian brewers pitch at a lower rate than other brewers specifically because they want to stress the yeast.

I don't think the beer you make will be bad by any stretch of the imagination, but you might want to think about pitching less yeast than normal for the next batch. Maybe making a 1L starter instead of a 1.5L, for instance.
Thanks RIT Warrior, I think I'll try that on my next Belgian because this Ardennes yeast just started going nuts on my wort almost immediately. Your response raises another question though - I've read that stressed yeast produce more fusels, is that true? If so, it seems like brewing the perfect Belgian is a tricky balancing act between pitch rate and temp.
 

RIT_Warrior

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Thanks RIT Warrior, I think I'll try that on my next Belgian because this Ardennes yeast just started going nuts on my wort almost immediately. Your response raises another question though - I've read that stressed yeast produce more fusels, is that true? If so, it seems like brewing the perfect Belgian is a tricky balancing act between pitch rate and temp.
I'd recommend picking up "Brew Like A Monk" if you don't have it yet, it gives a good primer on what various breweries do to stress the yeast and get the desired esters/phenols. Most of them seem to underpitch, but some don't. Some ferment quite hot, some don't. To be honest I was a bit more confused after I had read it than when I started, but I think the biggest thing that I took away was that I would need to find a system that worked for me, and that I couldn't really just look up on a chart to find the pitch rate/temperature that I wanted.
 
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