So the temperature is buffered, rather than actively controlled.
It's been a year since I brewed a Belgian style...you all are making me itch to brew something other than a saison...
After researching a bit and chewing on a comment from Tomme Arthur (who responded to an email of mine with some great feedback) shown below (from BLAM), I'm thinking that the buffering time I saw last week should be sufficient to get through the lag phase.
Tomme Arthur, from BLAM:
"Currently, we are overpitching the cell count. We are then undercutting our oxygen levels at KO, forcing the yeast to create esters by going through a starved lag phase. We are now fermenting at 64F (18C) to start, at which point we cut the yeast loose and let fermentation go. In other words, at this point we are not using the jackets on the fermenter to cool the beer. We typically see an increase of ferment temperature into the high 70s when we reach terminal gravity. This ramping-up process works great, as we get the yeast to finish in a higher temperature range, with much of the alcohol production taking place at lower temperatures, thereby minimizing fusel alcohol production. Spicy phenols are created initially, followed by much of the ester production as the beer ferments at a warmer temperature."
This is what I am going to keep pursuing. Pitch in the 1.25 M/ml/P range for now, with 5 minutes of aeration through a stone and aquarium pump. I'll play with these 2 variables initially.
Another thing will be to try and lower OG on all the beers and let the attenuation, something we want dearly with these beers anyway, drive up the ABV.
I am targeting 6, 7, 8, and 9% respectively for my Monk (Single/Table Beer), 2 Monks (Dubbel), 3 Monks (Tripel) and Big Monk (DSA).