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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: uintafly on January 19, 2011, 05:02:43 AM

Title: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uintafly on January 19, 2011, 05:02:43 AM
I haven't sampled too many Belgian brews but just finished off a couple Westmalle Trappist Ale Tripel's and they were delicious. How hard is this style to brew? I obviously couldn't match that exact flavor but could a newb brew something similar? I am still doing extract only.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: a10t2 on January 19, 2011, 05:09:10 AM
You should be able to get very close - most traditional tripels are very simple recipes. 100% pilsner extract, Belgian if you can get it, maybe 10-15% simple table sugar, and the Westmalle yeast (Wyeast 3787 or WLP530). Make sure you make a large starter, or pitch about three packs.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: majorvices on January 19, 2011, 12:08:52 PM
It can be a farily easy style to brew  The hard part is getting the proper attenuation. That might be harder with extract since you can't control the mash. You want to approach 90% apparent attenuation. In your case I would try and find pilsner extract or use the lightest extract you can find - preferably DME - and use 20% sugar for around 1.075 - 1.080 beer. Don't give into the urge to add any crystal malts, they would be inappropriate. Pitch in the high 60s and warm into the low to mid 70s near the end of fermentation to insure attenuation.

For more info on this style (and others) check Stan Heironymous' great book "Brew Like A Monk".
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: jeffy on January 19, 2011, 12:48:53 PM
It can be a farily easy style to brew  The hard part is getting the proper attenuation. That might be harder with extract since you can't control the mash. You want to approach 90% apparent attenuation. In your case I would try and find pilsner extract or use the lightest extract you can find - preferably DME - and use 20% sugar for around 1.075 - 1.080 beer. Don't give into the urge to add any crystal malts, they would be inappropriate. Pitch in the high 60s and warm into the low to mid 70s near the end of fermentation to insure attenuation.

For more info on this style (and others) check Stan Heironymous' great book "Brew Like A Monk".

Another point would be to add the simple sugar (I'm using cane sugar from the grocery store) into the fermenter after a few days, while the yeast is the strongest.  This should promote good attenuation.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uthristy on January 19, 2011, 01:19:15 PM

Another point would be to add the simple sugar (I'm using cane sugar from the grocery store) into the fermenter after a few days, while the yeast is the strongest.  This should promote good attenuation.

< EDIT  I just noticed he's using extract  :-[ )


I hate reading that, maybe when using extract but with all-grain theres no good reason to HAVE to add to fermentor. Add to boil at whatever time and with a proper yeast pitch there should be no problems getting the beer dry enough.


-- example --
WLP550 -wy3522 does these numbers everytime like clockwork. 1.5L >1.8L starter

Houblon clone
sg 1.078
fg1.006

Attenuation
91.84% ADF
76.05% RDF

84.3% Pilsner
15.7% Beet Sugar
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: jeffy on January 19, 2011, 01:54:29 PM

Another point would be to add the simple sugar (I'm using cane sugar from the grocery store) into the fermenter after a few days, while the yeast is the strongest.  This should promote good attenuation.

< EDIT  I just noticed he's using extract  :-[ )


I hate reading that, maybe when using extract but with all-grain theres no good reason to HAVE to add to fermentor. Add to boil at whatever time and with a proper yeast pitch there should be no problems getting the beer dry enough.


-- example --
WLP550 -wy3522 does these numbers everytime like clockwork. 1.5L >1.8L starter

Houblon clone
sg 1.078
fg1.006

Attenuation
91.84% ADF
76.05% RDF

84.3% Pilsner
15.7% Beet Sugar

Agreed that the appropriate amount of Belgian yeast is always a great way to go, but I thought the later sugar addition was a pretty smart idea.  I got it from Timothy's Tripel recipe in Homebrewopedia.  My all pilsner malt triple was made to a gravity of 1.075 and then added sugar to reach 1.085 after four days of fermenting.  It shows 1.010 after another week.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uintafly on January 19, 2011, 02:26:42 PM
Make sure you make a large starter, or pitch about three packs.

After spending a couple months on this site I think I was given bad advice from my lhbs. After my first batch I asked about doing starters and was told that today's yeast strains were so good that it was no longer necessary. He said the only people who use starters are old school brewers who have just always done it that way. After not being able to get any of my fg's below 1.018, I want to use starters from here on out, and it seems with this style it is even more important.

Thanks for the info guys.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: oscarvan on January 19, 2011, 02:46:54 PM
Starters, or multiple packs.....yeast cell count is the bottom line.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: majorvices on January 19, 2011, 02:55:57 PM
Ironically it's often pubs who are not in possession of the most up to date or accurate information. A smack pack/vial has enough cells to "properly" ferment about a 1.040 ale by industry standards. However, your attenuation woes are probably due more in part by the extract you are using. Try and find the lightest extract possible and mash or steep specialtygrains for color and flavor. Also consider subbing sugar in for some of your extract if the problem persists. Eventually you may want to move onto all grain to have more control over flavor, mouthfeel and attenuation. Not to mention saving money.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: denny on January 19, 2011, 03:42:16 PM
Agreed that the appropriate amount of Belgian yeast is always a great way to go, but I thought the later sugar addition was a pretty smart idea.  I got it from Timothy's Tripel recipe in Homebrewopedia.  My all pilsner malt triple was made to a gravity of 1.075 and then added sugar to reach 1.085 after four days of fermenting.  It shows 1.010 after another week.

While it can't hurt, I certainly haven't found any benefit from adding the sugar to the fermenter rather than the kettle.  In beers even in the 1.085-90 range, as long as you're pitching an adequate amount of healthy yeast, the sugar works just fine (for me) in the kettle.  It also means there's one less thing to deal to deal with down the road.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 19, 2011, 04:35:04 PM
I've been brewing this recipe from BYO for a couple years now and it's one of my stand-bys: http://www.byo.com/stories/recipeindex/article/recipes/92-belgian-and-french-ale/1776-westmalle-tripel

I've not done a side by side comparison with Westmalle, but my kegs go quickly with this batch.

The recommendation to use the lightest possible extract is spot on and I would say for all beers, not just Belgians.  I typically do a partial mash and use Breiss extract and vary between Pilsen and Golden Promise depending on style and what is available when I'm buying.

I've also tried adding sugar to the fermenter and have not seen any appreciable difference in FG.  No harm in trying it though, as your experience may be different.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: denny on January 19, 2011, 05:18:45 PM
I came up with a recipe that's remarkably similar to Westmalle.  Although I'm nearly positive Westmalle doesn't FWH, doing it makes this beer nearly spot on for Westmalle.  For extract, just replace the pils malt with an equal number of gravity units of the lightest extract you can find.  My recipe is in the recipe wiki here...

http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/Westcoastmalle
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: bearcat on January 19, 2011, 06:15:25 PM
I came up with a recipe that's remarkably similar to Westmalle.  Although I'm nearly positive Westmalle doesn't FWH, doing it makes this beer nearly spot on for Westmalle.  For extract, just replace the pils malt with an equal number of gravity units of the lightest extract you can find.  My recipe is in the recipe wiki here...

http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/Westcoastmalle

Hey Denny,

What are your setting for promash - I am trying to match up your IBU's on the Tripel.   I am set at -30% mash hopping, -65% FWH, Rager,  and 2% increase for Plug and 9% increase for pellet.   Thanks.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: denny on January 19, 2011, 06:16:04 PM
Pretty much the same as yours, but I use Tinseth.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: bearcat on January 19, 2011, 06:30:00 PM
Pretty much the same as yours, but I use Tinseth.

Thanks --concenration factor must be off  to then.  I will play with the numbers.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: Hokerer on January 19, 2011, 06:38:49 PM
Pretty much the same as yours, but I use Tinseth.

Thanks --concenration factor must be off  to then.  I will play with the numbers.

Actually, Tinseth and Rager give significantly different IBU numbers
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: bearcat on January 19, 2011, 07:00:07 PM
Pretty much the same as yours, but I use Tinseth.

Thanks --concenration factor must be off  to then.  I will play with the numbers.

Actually, Tinseth and Rager give significantly different IBU numbers

Yup,,,  I would just switch the recipe to Tinseth but my concentration factor must have been off ... still is. to get the same IBU as Denny's posted recipe. 
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: ghumphrey on January 19, 2011, 07:49:34 PM
... but I thought the later sugar addition was a pretty smart idea.  I got it from Timothy's Tripel recipe in Homebrewopedia.

Why thank you! Timothy's is my creation and I'm convinced, after brewing it several times, that the sugar in the primary is the way to go. Those little yeasties, no matter how many are in attendance, are a lazy lot. They'll eat the simple sugars first before heading on to the other, more complex ones like maltose. Adding sugar 2-3 days into primary is like giving them a nice little dessert before a great big nap.

The yeast I use is also key - the strain I use is WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale (or Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes). It's a super attenuative yeast. Last time I brewed Timothy's (http://brewlog.zkdigital.com/index.php?page=brewBlogDetail&filter=geoff&id=174), the FG was 1.002!  No joke, I checked it three times. It wasn't super dry though, probably from the use of a pale malt and a bit of aromatic malt, and has won four medals this year alone.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: majorvices on January 19, 2011, 09:28:19 PM
I've done the incremental feeding method ad it works pretty well. Right now I am brewing a tripel regularly and have had no problems reaching slightly above 90% aa by adding sugar to boil (about 15% I believe) and doing a long, low mash. But the incremental feeding is a good tool to use if you ever have a problem reaching proper attenuation.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: tygo on January 19, 2011, 10:04:46 PM
I add up to 20% sugar in my golden strong ale, right to the boil, and hit at least 90% apparent attenuation every time.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: denny on January 19, 2011, 10:37:29 PM
I add up to 20% sugar in my golden strong ale, right to the boil, and hit at least 90% apparent attenuation every time.

Same here.  If I ever start having trouble, I'll try incremental feeding again, but at this point I don't have a good reason to do it.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uthristy on January 19, 2011, 10:37:52 PM
Why thank you! Timothy's is my creation and I'm convinced, after brewing it several times, that the sugar in the primary is the way to go.
<snip>
The yeast I use is also key - the strain I use is WLP545 Belgian Strong Ale (or Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes). It's a super attenuative yeast. Last time I brewed Timothy's (http://brewlog.zkdigital.com/index.php?page=brewBlogDetail&filter=geoff&id=174), the FG was 1.002!  No joke, I checked it three times. It wasn't super dry though, probably from the use of a pale malt and a bit of aromatic malt, and has won four medals this year alone.


Couple questions:
Have you tried adding to the boil?
my numbers always are the same -->boil vs fermentor. Thus I never saw any reason not to  add to the boil.

wlp545 isn't the same as wy3522 - - (wlp550 =wy3522 =achouffe)

@1.002 its already dryer than 90%+ of most triples, in fact thats in the range of some saisons & lambics.


Vital Statistics:      OG: 1.075 – 1.085
IBUs: 20 – 40    FG: 1.008 – 1.014
SRM: 4.5 – 7    ABV: 7.5 – 9.5%
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uintafly on January 20, 2011, 01:29:54 AM
I came up with a recipe that's remarkably similar to Westmalle.  Although I'm nearly positive Westmalle doesn't FWH, doing it makes this beer nearly spot on for Westmalle.  For extract, just replace the pils malt with an equal number of gravity units of the lightest extract you can find.  My recipe is in the recipe wiki here...

http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/Westcoastmalle

If I add this recipe to me "to do list" it will make two of your recipes on my list as I already want to try your rye IPA. What's the line "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery."

A couple of people have mentioned I may want to go all grain, and I have been thinking about it myself but worry about how much time I have right now. I also need to get a larger kettle and a turkey fryer so I can do full boils. Not to mention my wife already thinks I'm nuts. I told her 25 gallons in 4 months is nothing compared to other people on the site. She says you all are crazy too.  ;D ;D

As far as attenuation goes, does the fact that I am doing smaller (2.5-3 gallon) boils affect that at all? I really can't go any bigger until I get a fryer because I already have trouble getting a good rolling boil on my stove top.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: a10t2 on January 20, 2011, 01:50:06 AM
As far as attenuation goes, does the fact that I am doing smaller (2.5-3 gallon) boils affect that at all? I really can't go any bigger until I get a fryer because I already have trouble getting a good rolling boil on my stove top.

Technically, yes. Maillard reactions will bind up some fermentable sugars into unfermentable compounds. I kind of doubt the difference is as much as even one "point", though. If you ever do an identical recipe, but as a full boil, make sure you take good notes. ;)
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: gordonstrong on March 04, 2011, 05:32:23 AM
This is an old thread, but I'm catching up.  Good suggestions here.  I have one more to add.  Attenuation is important but so is final gravity.  You can get a highly attenuated beer, but it won't taste right if the FG is too high.  Like when making a Duvel-type beer, it's better to start low and finish low.  A tripel shouldn't taste like a barleywine.  I also wouldn't target much more than 9-9.5% ABV.  Again, it won't really taste right in the balance.

This is the biggest mistake I think I see with brewpub-type Tripels.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uintafly on March 04, 2011, 01:51:41 PM
I am actually planning on brewing this up tomorrow. My recipe is just a variation on Denny's tripel in the wiki page. I was a little worried about getting it dry enough so I am shooting for an abv of 7.7. Here is the recipe, let me kow what you think:
7.5 lbs Muntons extra light dry extract
2 lbs. cane sugar

.5 oz. Tettnanger    60 min.    3.9 AA
1.25   Czech Saaz  60 min.    3.0 AA
1.5 oz. Hallertau     30 min.    4.6 AA
.75 oz. Czech Saaz  5 min.    3.0 AA

White Labs Abbey Ale

1.075 OG

29.8 IBU
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: gordonstrong on March 04, 2011, 02:09:23 PM
Sounds great.  I always worry about the fermentability of extracts, but there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.  Looks like you had already incorporated the suggestions I had for you.  I like the percentage of sugar, the choice of hops, the OG and IBU, and the yeast.  So no further suggestions there; looks like you're in good shape.

Only thing it doesn't mention is the fermentation temperature.  I'd start in the low-mid 60s and let it rise on its own as it goes.  Don't try to rein it in, but also don't start it too hot.  You want to avoid making liquid headache.

It's rather see a tripel a little small than one that's too big.  Especially if you're working with extract.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: brewsumore on March 04, 2011, 07:59:02 PM
Also, remember that with the added sugar and the active Belgian yeast, to be sure to err on the side of pitching cooler than hotter, or have enough temp control capacity to ensure that the beer doesn't get too hot too soon (first 3-4 days) via an active fermentation and high ambient temp, or you'll end up with solventy fusel alcohol taste that is just plain nasty.
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: gordonstrong on March 04, 2011, 10:23:22 PM
solventy fusel alcohol taste that is just plain nasty.

That's what I meant by "liquid headache"
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: ndcube on March 05, 2011, 12:59:06 PM
Agreed that the appropriate amount of Belgian yeast is always a great way to go, but I thought the later sugar addition was a pretty smart idea.  I got it from Timothy's Tripel recipe in Homebrewopedia.  My all pilsner malt triple was made to a gravity of 1.075 and then added sugar to reach 1.085 after four days of fermenting.  It shows 1.010 after another week.

While it can't hurt, I certainly haven't found any benefit from adding the sugar to the fermenter rather than the kettle.  In beers even in the 1.085-90 range, as long as you're pitching an adequate amount of healthy yeast, the sugar works just fine (for me) in the kettle.  It also means there's one less thing to deal to deal with down the road.

I find that adding sugar to the fermentation is invaluable when you forget to add it to the boil.   :'(
Title: Re: Belgian Tripel
Post by: uintafly on March 05, 2011, 10:36:03 PM
Thanks for the info guys. I plan on getting it started right around 65 degrees.