Author Topic: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale  (Read 3069 times)

Offline lazydog79

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Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« on: January 31, 2011, 04:15:46 PM »
I brewed a Belgian Pale Saturday afternoon - Jamil's "Antwerp Afternoon" recipe.  OG was 1.054.  Fermenting with WLP 515 Antwerp Ale.  I had originally planned to do a two stage fermentation with a week or so in primary and three in secondary, but I'm rethinking this.  My fermentation took right off and looks like it could be done in another day or so.  I'm wondering now if a longish (3 weeks or so) primary might be all I need given the OG, but I'm unsure as I have never brewed this style before.  Thoughts?

Online jamminbrew

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2011, 04:20:16 PM »
I recently read Stan Hieronymus' book, Brew Like a Monk, and I think just about everything had a secondary fermenting time.  My own recipe for a Belgian tripel has a secondary of 2-3 weeks.   I would advise against a long primary fermentation, as it could lead to sour and off flavors.  I'm sure some of the more learned guys in this forum can give you much more detailed advice.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2011, 04:31:48 PM »
2-3 weeks in primary, then bottle or keg. No need to secondary this style IMHO.

When people talk about long primary times leading to off flavors, they generally mean more than a couple months.
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Online jamminbrew

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2011, 04:40:57 PM »
2-3 weeks in primary, then bottle or keg. No need to secondary this style IMHO.

When people talk about long primary times leading to off flavors, they generally mean more than a couple months.
I'll remember that, thanks!
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2011, 05:03:05 PM »
2-3 weeks in primary, then bottle or keg. No need to secondary this style IMHO.

When people talk about long primary times leading to off flavors, they generally mean more than a couple months.

Plus, I think that pressure has an effect on autolysis, the off-flavor you may expect from a long rest on the primary.  For homebrewers there is minimal pressure because the size of the fermentor is so small.  For a pro brewer fermenting in a 60 barrel tall cylindroconical the pressure may lead to quicker autolysis.  Just a theory though.  I've never had a problem with a month or more in the primary and often go straight to the keg.
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Offline hoser

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2011, 05:50:46 PM »
If you are doing a Jamil beer, then you should know that he only does a secondary for fruit beers per his recipes.  Let the beer finish fermenting out  and cleaning up all of the fermentation byproducts (usually 10-14 days).  You will know the beer has reached terminal when the gravity doesn't change after a couple of days.  Do not base it on the airlock bubbling or an arbitrary set number of days.  Unless you are planning on dryhopping this beer, there is no need for a secondary.  Just transfer to your kegs or bottles and carbonate.

The reason Stan mentions secondaries in "Brew Like a Monk" is because most of the belgian beers he mentions are bottle conditioned and this can be thought of as a secondary vessel.

Beers like belgian pale ales are meant to be enjoyed fresh and when they are young.  Leaving your beer on a yeast cake for too long (3+ weeks) will lead to autolysis and meaty flavors.  Lower ABV beers will age much faster.

Commercial breweries transfer their beers over quickly due to the cone pressure and heat leading to much quicker autolysis than on a home scale.  Also, time and space are money in a commercial brewery and they are trying to move product as fast as possible.

So, my recommendation is that when the beer reaches terminal gravity let it sit for 2-3 days to clean up the fermentation byproducts.  Then transfer to your serving vessel (keg or bottle), carbonate, and enjoy!

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Offline uthristy

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2011, 04:38:47 AM »
Leaving your beer on a yeast cake for too long (3+ weeks) will lead to autolysis and meaty flavors.


Nonsense and I do alot of lite Belgian style beers.

Offline richardt

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2011, 06:58:07 AM »
My BDS has been sitting on the yeast for a month without any ill effects.  Just checked the gravity last night and put it in the fridge to chill and drop the yeast.  Will transfer the clarified beer sometime later this week.  It tastes delicious!  The OG = 1.100, FG = 1.021; Brewsmith predicted FG was 1.023, so I think we're safe to bottle now.  No autolysis noted.
That is typically my experience for my Belgian Tripels, as well.


Offline lazydog79

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2011, 08:33:05 AM »
If you are doing a Jamil beer, then you should know that he only does a secondary for fruit beers per his recipes.

You are right about that.  Jamil and John Palmer are definitely part of the "secondary only when absolutely necessary" school, which is starting to win me over, especially after BYO ran the article a couple of issues ago about their primary experiment.  They ran primaries up to 4 weeks with no ill effects.  I'm not quite comfortable pushing it that far.  However, I used to take them only up to two weeks.  Now, I routinely run my primary up to 3 weeks if I'm not doing a secondary.  I'm starting to agree with Palmer - it's just not worth the contamination/oxidation risk unless I plan an extended aging.

Beers like belgian pale ales are meant to be enjoyed fresh and when they are young

That was exactly my thinking, Hoser.  Thanks!

Offline hoser

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2011, 08:50:02 AM »
Yes, I agree with big beers like BDS, tripels, RIS and barleywines you can leave the beer on the yeast with no risk of autolysis or off flavors for over 3 weeks.  However, with smaller gravity beers with very few big flavors and alcohol to hide behind the risk of off flavors being perceived are far greater.  It takes less time for the yeast to ferment out a session beer and to clean up the fermentation byproducts than it would for a 1.100 beer.  If the beer has finished it's fermentation and has cleaned up it's byproducts I see no reason to leave it on the yeast cake.  I believe Dr. Bamforth stated for every 1 deg F above freezing there is a 10 fold increase the rate of beer stability decreasing.  Now, I am just quoting that from memory so the statement may not be 100% accurate, but the take home message is that the longer you keep your beer warm the faster it will breakdown and lose it's flavor stability.  I see no reason to leave a 1.054 beer on the yeast cake for 3+ weeks after it has finished out it's fermentation, especially if in typical Belgian fashion the beer was fermented warm.  I did a variation of the same beer 4 weeks ago, 1.054 to 1.008 in 7 days, crashed the yeast at day 10.  The beer was kegged and carbonated by day 14 and tasted fantastic last night.  Just my opinion :P

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2011, 10:16:42 AM »
However, with smaller gravity beers with very few big flavors and alcohol to hide behind the risk of off flavors being perceived are far greater.
Except with lower gravity beers there is less stress on the yeast and they are able to survive for longer in the lower ABV%.  So the risk may actually be lower, even though there is less to hide behind. Do it whatever way you're comfortable, as long as you like your beer ;)
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Offline hoser

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2011, 10:27:35 AM »
Do it whatever way you're comfortable, as long as you like your beer ;)

Amen! ;D

Offline majorvices

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2011, 12:01:22 PM »
Obviously the risk of autolization is much greater in the pro brewer world where there is so much more pressure on the yeast crammed in the bottom of the cone. But in the homebrew world where most brewers are using flat bottomed carboys and buckets the risk is much less, especially when the temp is kept cold. I have kept beer on the yeast for as long as 6 weeks without any deleterious affects, though that temp was brought down under 38 degrees after active fermentation was finished.

That said, personally I like to get the beer in the keg or bright tanks as soon as fermentation is finished and the yeast has had a chance to clean up the beer. Just a lot less to worry about when the beer is off the yeast and under Co2.
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Offline SiameseMoose

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2011, 12:20:19 PM »
Antwerp ale yeast is from DeKonick. Although you don't need to, they lager for three weeks at 32°
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Offline lazydog79

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Re: Fermentation schedule for Belgian Pale
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2011, 12:55:28 PM »
Antwerp ale yeast is from DeKonick. Although you don't need to, they lager for three weeks at 32°

I didn't know that - cool.  I doubt I'll lager this one, but I keep 12 or so bottles in the fridge at a time.  So sometimes, I end up lagering.  Other times, they barely get cold  ;D