When I was in Belgium a year or so ago, Westmalle tripel was my go to. I've always started fermententation on mthaty version of it at 63F. Talking to brewery reps confirmed tha6 was a good choice.
That's reasonable. The chart from Brew Like a Monk (I went and pulled it out to make sure I wasn't talking crap) says they and Achel pitch at 64º, and Westvleteren pitches at 72º. This is for the Achel/Westvleteren 8 and Westmalle Dubbel.
Thanks. I'd forgotten all about that chart. I'll have a look.
And as I think about this, I know I get far preferable results at temps lower than those listed. I wonder if it's maybe due to differences in the yeast? For instance, we know that 3787 has Westmalle heritage. But it's likely not the same as the version Westmalle uses. I wonder if that accounts for the different results? And if so, are we on a fool's errand when we try to slavishly recreate what they do? Would we be better off to trust our tastes rather than what we read? Interesting questions....
Agreed. In addition to the fact that we are getting an approximation of the actual yeast rather than the yeast from the brewery, there's a really good chance that as the conditions around the brewery change, the yeast strain changes. There are wines being made from grapes in England now that wouldn't have been possible to grow 20 or 30 years ago.
And beyond the yeast differences we have to figure in the fact that things like thermal mass and even the amount of pressure of a commercial batch will dramatically impact how a beer will turn out. Trying to exactly replicate what a brewery is doing in a massive cylindro conical fermenter is never going to be achievable in a 5 gallon or even 15 gallon batch without some kind of adjustments. And making adjustments means drinking beer which is almost never a bad thing.