I brewed a Tripel in Nov. of '09. Unfortunately I do not have any notes on the actual fermentation temps but I was shooting for a target of 70F. Now I have been using various means of temp control for years and my standard practice is to start a bit cooler than the target temp and let it rise to that temp. So, most likely I would have started it at about 66F and then let it rise to 70F. I do know for a fact that the method I used at the time was a water bath with a aquarium heater in it. So, I am fairly certain it did not get to hot.
The brew itself tastes great I think. Maybe a bit high on IBU's (about ~42 I think my software calculated). I don't feel it tastes hot from alcohol. There is some warmth but I do not think it is hot. The bitterness in the finish could be something other than hop derived I suppose. Maybe alcohol? However, I tend to develop a headache later after drinking it. Which leads me to believe fusels. So, where did they come from if I kept the ferment under control?
It is bottle conditioned. Is it possible to develop significant fusel alcohol from bottle conditioning? I do not have any data on the conditioning temp. Or is it something else? Could it be the caraway seed I added? I do not know why, but I had an inclination for quite a while to brew a tripel with some caraway. So I did. Anyone have any experience using caraway? Does it produces headaches in beer?
I entered this in NHC east last year. It was a bit young at the time I suppose. It scored pretty low @ 25.5. On aroma both two judges noted cidery notes and one said vegetal. Neither of which I detect. Just a side note of interest not related to this inquiry: on appearance one said chill haze, the other said "the beer looks amazing. Great clarity...", which all of the bottles I have had have been. On flavor both cited a bit harsh minerally character and a bit solventy. One continued to say "chalky like... ferment seems clean". The other states "grainy pils malt like flavor with some fruit esters through the middle... Finish is initially sweet but immediatly drops off to complete dryness... bitterness is moderately high perhaps a bit too harsh for the style."
Both commented in overall impression that there was a minerally character that was distracting and harsh leading to bitterness. I don't experience that. Both also stated I should try a different simple sugar (or less) to improve it. I used one container of clear Belgian cnadi syrup (1.5 lbs I believe is the amount) and 1 Lb of cane sugar. One said it was too dry, the other also said "bone dry".