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Why do Belgian yeasts hate me

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I'm a fairly experienced brewer. I've done well, and even medaled, in competition with beers fermented with a variety American, UK and German yeasts. I have fermentation temp control.

Every fermentation with Belgian yeasts taste like crap.

Ok, maybe not TOTAL crap. I'm drinking a Tripel which is probably a ~25 pt beer. Drinkable, but with hot alcohol, rubber and a hints of bubble gum.

Any thoughts? What am I missing?




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BroStefan
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Pitched at 64f and held at 65q until ~ 1.020 when I slowly pushed up to 70f over 5 days.


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eastoak

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i'm not a yeast expert but if you want to minimize those flavors keep the temp at 65 the whole way through. the first time i had non sour belgian beer i hated the flavor but when i made my own and kept the fermentation temps in the lower end of the range i got a subdued flavor that i now love. maybe someone else has other ideas but that is what works in this one case.
 
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I tried pushing the temp because last time the tripel came out a bit underattenuated. Next I'll try keep it at 65f.




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terodox

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Which yeast strain were you using? I've done several Belgians at this point, some amazing and a few flops. I've found a variety of different scenarios for temp over the fermentation cycle. It varies dramatically depending on the strain. Wyeast 3768 is always my favorite example. Keep it in the mid to upper 80s or even low 90s throughout fermentation. However, the white labs equivalent of 565 had much better results keeping it around mid sixties.
 

g-star

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I use WLP 530 (WY 3787) a lot. I have had the best results pitching around 64F, letting it free rise up to 68-70F and holding there through high krausen, then as activity slows ramping up to about 75F and holding until terminal gravity. This is done after pitching the appropriate cell count for the OG of the beer, using pure O2 to oxygenate. This will provide the signature Belgian esters/phenols without letting the beer get too hot or solventy.

I have placed BOS using these methods, FWIW.
 

TNGabe

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i'm not a yeast expert but if you want to minimize those flavors keep the temp at 65 the whole way through. the first time i had non sour belgian beer i hated the flavor but when i made my own and kept the fermentation temps in the lower end of the range i got a subdued flavor that i now love. maybe someone else has other ideas but that is what works in this one case.
Nearly all of the flavor compounds are produced as byproducts of yeast growth, which occurs during the first 48hrs or so following the lag phase. Raising the temperature following the growth the phase should little to no effect on the beers flavor.

I tried pushing the temp because last time the tripel came out a bit underattenuated. Next I'll try keep it at 65f.
Keep in my mind that unless you are using a thermowell inside the fermentation vessel, the actual temperature of the fermenting beer will be 2F to 4F higher than what is measured on the outside of the fermentor. Consider starting the beer at 65F, but then dropping the temp controller a few degrees once fermentation starts and then ramping up quickly as fermentation slows. I'm assuming you use a pitch rate calculator, but consider adjusting your pitch rate if you're still getting unsatisfactory results.
 

beergolf

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Every fermentation with Belgian yeasts taste like crap.

Ok, maybe not TOTAL crap. I'm drinking a Tripel which is probably a ~25 pt beer. Drinkable, but with hot alcohol, rubber and a hints of bubble gum.
This may be an odd question, but do you like Belgian style beers? The reason I ask is that not everyone likes the flavor of Belgians.
 
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I use WLP 530 (WY 3787) a lot. I have had the best results pitching around 64F, letting it free rise up to 68-70F and holding there through high krausen, then as activity slows ramping up to about 75F and holding until terminal gravity. This is done after pitching the appropriate cell count for the OG of the beer, using pure O2 to oxygenate. This will provide the signature Belgian esters/phenols without letting the beer get too hot or solventy.



I have placed BOS using these methods, FWIW.

I used 530 and was basically followed this procedure. The only difference is that in my basement is pretty cool year round so once fermentation slows I need to add a little heat with a heating pad to push the temp up. Temp is controlled with a STC 1000 two stage temp controller taped to the side of the carboy and covered with several layers of instalation. I don't have 02 but bubble air through a sinter stone for 20 minuites.

One other variable. I hold the simple sugar back until the fermi nation slows - a technique for high gravity beers I read in the Yeast book.


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This may be an odd question, but do you like Belgian style beers? The reason I ask is that not everyone likes the flavor of Belgians.

I love Belgian! Tripel is one of my favorite styles, and my wife's too. Very food friendly. That is why I want to nail this.


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beergolf

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I love Belgian! Tripel is one of my favorite styles, and my wife's too. Very food friendly. That is why I want to nail this.


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OK that takes away that variable.

Have you tried any other Belgian yeasts? They all do have different flavors. Usually for me 530/3787 makes a great Tripel. Prtty much my go to yeast for a tripel, followed closely by 500/1214.

Pitching in the mid 60's and holding it there for a couple of days and then letting it ramp up should give you a very nice tripel.

How long are you fermenting for and how long are you letting them age? Belgians like a little age on them to meld the flavors.
 
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OK that takes away that variable.

Have you tried any other Belgian yeasts? They all do have different flavors. Usually for me 530/3787 makes a great Tripel. Prtty much my go to yeast for a tripel, followed closely by 500/1214.

Pitching in the mid 60's and holding it there for a couple of days and then letting it ramp up should give you a very nice tripel.

How long are you fermenting for and how long are you letting them age? Belgians like a little age on them to meld the flavors.

I've only used 530. I've used it for several batches of the Tripel, and also for Belgian PA.

My fermentation process is pretty consistent for all my beers. A started as indicated by Mr Malty and yeastcalc. Pitch a little low, hold at whatever the optimum temp might be until fermentation has really slowed down as indicated by an SG reading. Ill then ramp temp up to get the last few points of attenuation. I'll keep it in the fermentor ~ 3 weeks then keg, bottle or bulk age, depending. This yield great consistent results with other yeasts and styles.

The tripel in question is about 8 weeks In the bottle and was bottle conditioned to ~ 3.5 volumes.


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beergolf

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I'll keep it in the fermentor ~ 3 weeks then keg, bottle or bulk age, depending. This yield great consistent results with other yeasts and styles.

The tripel in question is about 8 weeks In the bottle and was bottle conditioned to ~ 3.5 volumes.
Belgian yeasts are really a different animal. What works with other yeasts does not always work with Belgian yeasts. Sounds like you just need more time. I always leave them in the fermenter for much longer. 4-6 weeks and then often secondary them for several more weeks. Then give them about 4 months in the bottles to age.


Here is a quote from CSI (of the Candi Syrup company) about aging Belgians.

Some say 4-6 weeks before drinking but most Belgians, even Tripels, do best at a minimum of 6 months. We age our Westmalle Tripel clones at a year and they are significantly superior at that age.
I think that a minimum of 4 months is the point where I start drinking them. For Tripels this is when I feel they start to really inprove. The darker Belgians I often let go even longer before drinking them.

Time is your friend when brewing Belgians.
 

Rhumbline

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I used 3787 in the one triple I've done. I thought it came out ok but an experienced home brewer who tried it told me I nailed it and was impressed.

Since it wasn't my favorite, it got stuffed in the closet. I'd run out of other beers after about five months and tried a bottle, it was very good at that point.
 

solbes

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I personally prefer my Tripels and Quads to have 6-18 months of aging. Dubbels seem pretty good relatively young (3 months). Maybe you just need to wait a bit. The flavors constantly evovle with Belgians.

Your process sounds fine to me. Start low, hold, then ramp towards last 1/2 of fermentation.
 

hokieguy95

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Maybe you fermented too cool for the Belgian yeast to do it's thing?

I've done 3 Dubbel's with 530. Every one of them has fermented in the higher ranges (around 73 to 76). They have come out fantastic. My experience with this yeast is that it loves the warmer temperatures. Some Trappist breweries push their yeast into the high 70s/low 80's. I'll +1 those that said to start low and ramp up the temperatures.

Here's a yeast chart for Belgian beers lke the one in Brew Like a monk.

http://www.whitelabs.com/files/belgianchart_0.pdf
 
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Thanks for the comments about aging and temp. They both make sense.

I have a copy of Brew Like A Monk but this chart is really helpful.

So ferment warmer and age longer.


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beergolf

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So ferment warmer and age longer.
Pretty much. As long as you don't get too hot too fast you are good. A gew days of controlled temps and then let it ramp up.

Definitely age will help. Think of Belgians more like wine. They continue to improve with age. Drink them young and they can be a little harsh. With time they are amazing.

I am lucky because I have a huge pipeline and when I brew a Belgian, I can give it plenty of time before I am even tempted to drink it. I am pisseed at some of the early Belgians I brewed I drank up begore they had a chance to age. They were pretty good, but once I learned what some age will do I really wonder what some of those early brews would have tasted like with some time.

Enjoy.
 
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Beergolf...

For a Tripel with 530 what do I want for an initial temp and how high should I push it?


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tagz

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The symptoms point to yeast health and pitch-rate. I saw that you used a starter, did you include you sugar addition in the calculation? Perhaps a bigger pitch and slightly warmer temps will do you well.

My advice would be to brew a blonde, a patersbier or something a bit lower gravity to see if the flavor persists. Then you can use the slurry for a healthy pitch into a trippel wort.
 
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I did include the sugar addition in the yeast starter calculation. My brew day got pushed back a day so the starter spend an extra ~24 hours in the fridge before pitching. Could that have made a difference?


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sudbuster

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I'm a fairly experienced brewer. I've done well, and even medaled, in competition with beers fermented with a variety American, UK and German yeasts. I have fermentation temp control.

Every fermentation with Belgian yeasts taste like crap.

Ok, maybe not TOTAL crap. I'm drinking a Tripel which is probably a ~25 pt beer. Drinkable, but with hot alcohol, rubber and a hints of bubble gum.

Any thoughts? What am I missing?




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Belgian yeasts don't hate you. The lil fecks don't even know you exist. But they DO know what they like. Depending on the strain, they like consistent warm. No ups, no downs, just warm. Some strains like more warm than others. Some will take the brew down to 1.002 or lower in about a week at about 70f. Others will dally along and if the temp drops 2 degrees will just say feck it and go to sleep. It's your job as a brewer to get to know these ways and use them to your advantage. Good brewing..
 
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