Author Topic: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?  (Read 1226 times)

Offline dennisw

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Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« on: January 29, 2013, 07:07:22 AM »
Yesterday I brewed a Belgian strong dark ale. I pitched a Wyeast 3787 Trappist High gravity starter at 67 deg. This morning I have active fermentation and the temp has risen to 69 deg. and I'm sure will  continue to rise. I have the ability to control the temp. With this beer and yeast combination is it better to control the temp or just let it free rise and ferment out? Thanks for any input.

Offline redbeerman

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 07:10:48 AM »
I would try to keep it below 70 if possible.  I find that the esters tend to be bubblegum-ish if you let the temps get too high.  I usually try to keep the temps between 62 an 68.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 07:13:15 AM »
I don't like it that high for my tastes, but I've always thought of 70F as the fusel "breaking point", esp. if its already rising on its own.

Its easier to keep control than take control.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 08:44:47 AM »
I don't like it that high for my tastes, but I've always thought of 70F as the fusel "breaking point", esp. if its already rising on its own.

Its easier to keep control than take control.

IME 70 us a conservative threshold for fusels.  Stick with what's comfortable for you, but I haven't wound up with any fusel bombs in beers that have risen to the low and maybe mid 70s.

Keep in mind that I am not recommending this as best practice, just suggesting that it's not a threshold to freak out about.  I freaked this summer when 10 gallons of wit hit 78, but the beer actually turned out pretty good and despite my searching for it, I did not get any fusel headaches.  Of course, the beer did not ferment at 78 for very long as I dropped the temp as soon as I caught it.
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Offline dbarber

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 09:04:26 AM »
I would try and keep the beer below 70.  Make sure you've got a blow off tube on it, this yeast really rocks!
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 09:24:44 AM »
In Brew like a Monk, some of the monasteries allow free rise into the 80s without ill effect apparently.  IIRC, Belgian yeasts generally produce much lower fusel levels than English yeasts.  Caveat: these generalities may not apply to Wyeast 3787 Trappist High gravity.
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 10:03:40 AM »
Not so much fusels that I would worry about.  The ester profiles of yeast change with temperature.  There was a chart available, may have been from White Labs, that showed the effects of fermentation temperatures on various Belgian yeast strains.  Higher temps can produce some interesting (not always in a good way) results.  It does depend on the strain though.  For instance, I have found that WLP400 (wit strain) needs to be above 70 to ferment correctly and gives a nice peppery, spicy, phenolics at higher temps, WLP500 (Trappits strain) on the other hand gives off some very unpleasant (to my tastes) phenolics at higher temps.

Here is the link:

http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/belgianchart.pdf
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 10:07:33 AM by redbeerman »
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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 10:33:47 AM »
you guys have had good success controlling temp on this strain?  IME it has not liked me controlling it. 
I pitch low-mid 60s and let it go as soon as I see activity.  Small beers done quickly, big beers rise to nearly 80.  Hmm, yet another experiment I need to make I guess.   ;D

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 11:04:24 AM »
you guys have had good success controlling temp on this strain?  IME it has not liked me controlling it. 
I pitch low-mid 60s and let it go as soon as I see activity.  Small beers done quickly, big beers rise to nearly 80.  Hmm, yet another experiment I need to make I guess.   ;D

cheers--
--Michael

Controlling at about 68 on my last two batches with this yeast led to LOOOONG fermentations to reach final gravity, along with some hand holding to get the yeast to finish.

These were huge beers (1.1 ish) pitched with slurry from previous fermentations.  Perhaps underpitched and I'm now thinking I need to use yeast nutrient.  I also know I under oxygenated the last batch as my tank ran out.

I don't have any kind of set up to heat up a fermenter or I would have done that to bring the last batch into the mid 70s to try and finish it off quicker.  As it is, I placed the fermenter near the heat vent.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 11:43:15 AM »
you guys have had good success controlling temp on this strain?  IME it has not liked me controlling it. 
I pitch low-mid 60s and let it go as soon as I see activity.  Small beers done quickly, big beers rise to nearly 80.  Hmm, yet another experiment I need to make I guess.   ;D

cheers--
--Michael

I think as long as you control fermentation temps throughout the growth phase (24-48 hours), you can let 'er rip to finish it out.

With that said - I've had issues finishing out fermentations doing this in a plastic bucket without an insulated ferm. chamber. Temp rises through high krausen, then as activity dies down the cooler ambient temp wicks away enough heat to lower the temp and stall fermentation.

Two stage controller, fridge + ferm wrap = problem solved.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 02:53:01 PM »
In general for Belgian yeast I like to control the fermentation for the first few days or so and then let it warm.  For my latest strong golden with WLP530, I pitched at 64, set the controller to 68 for 2 days, and then let it free rise up to 75 or so after that.  In the summer when it's hot I might keep using the temperature controller and limit the rise to 2 degrees a day or so.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 02:55:29 PM by narvin »
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Free rise temp for Belgian strong?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 09:14:42 AM »
Before I had a fermentation chamber I used to let those Belgian strains free rise. It was basically the only safe way to brew during the summer. I would try to keep them cool in a swamp cooler set up for a day or two and then just let it rise to whatever temperature it found in my house, which was usually the upper 70s.

Not all Belgian strains are the same. Some will start to get a little fusel-y in the upper 70s. Some produce less desirable flavors, especially if they hit the 80s. Mostly it will depend upon your preferred flavor profile.

Pitching rate and oxygenation will also play a factor in the flavor composition. If you pitch sufficiently (or overpitch) you will get less of an estery profile, especially if you keep the fermentation cool the first 1-3 days. That will also affect how the temperature rise will in turn affect the beer.

I think with those Belgian strains you have to pick one and play around with different factors (e.g. pitching rate, fermentation temperature schedule, oxygenation, etc.) and see how it changes to find what flavor profiles you can get out of it and which ones you prefer. It makes a lot more sense than trying to buy strain after strain to find a flavor you like.
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