Brewing my first Belgian beers, a White IPA and a Saison

It’s summertime here in New England and ambient temps are far too warm for standard ale yeast which maxes out at around 70° F. As a homebrewer on a budget, I haven’t yet invested in or built a temperature controlled environment for my fermenter, nor have I tried cooling blankets, swamp coolers, etc. This left me with two options for the summer, forgo brewing or try out some of the Belgian yeast strains tested at higher temps. I chose the latter and have now tried two different strains with varying degrees of success.

The first type I tried was Wyeast’s 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast. Here is the description from their website verbatim: “One of the great and versatile strains for the production of classic Belgian style ales. This strain produces a beautiful balance of delicate fruit esters and subtle spicy notes, with neither one dominating. Unlike many other Belgian style strains, this strain is highly flocculent and results in bright beers.” The upper end of the fermentation temperature range listed is 75° F, however, I found many brewers had success making flavorful beer as high as 85° F. I pitched the yeast at 70° F and over a couple of days let the wort temp rise to approximately 82° F. It took just about a week to reach final gravity, a very dry 1.003 achieved partially by keeping my mash/steep temperatures low. The Belgian White IPA I brewed with this is very light and crisp, with very little flavor influence from the yeast. All things considered, this strain performed perfectly. The complete lack of off flavors and aromas has convinced me to make this yeast one of my mainstays.

The second type I tried was Wyeast’s 3724 Saison yeast. This is the strain used in Saison Dupont. Known to stall at gravity 1.035, I was a bit nervous and added additional yeast nutrients to the late boil as recommended by my homebrew guru. Get this one hot! Pitched at around 70° F I quickly ramped the wort temp up to around 93° F Surprisingly, this dried up nicely in just over seven days to a final gravity of 1.010. Again, slightly lower than anticipated by the recipe due to lowering my grain steeping temps. At three weeks I bottled half the batch with corn sugar and no additional yeast or nutrients. The beer was VERY green and smelled strongly of both acetaldehyde and diacetyl, a good indication the yeast had not cleaned up the secondary and tertiary products of fermentation. The beer has been in bottles for about ten days and has produced little to no carbonation. I expect this will need to bottle condition for upwards of six weeks or more to allow the existing yeast to convert the additional sugar and clean up the by products. Today I am bottling the second half and am currently debating whether to add additional yeast of  the same strain or a less temperamental one, in an attempt to shorten the conditioning time and insure a nicely flavored beer. Additional details on both halves of the batch to follow…

Additional details on the Belgian White IPA…

Additional details on the Saison…

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About mrhopsbeertalk
Avid homebrewer and craft beer taster. I love all the hops I can get. #hops #ipa #iipa #ipl #porter #dipa #specialtyale #saison #craftbeer western mass · mrhopsbeertalk.wordpress.com

2 Responses to Brewing my first Belgian beers, a White IPA and a Saison

  1. Pingback: White Hatter VicinityBrew Beer of the Week! | VicinityBrew Software

  2. Pingback: 14 batches of home brew later I’m a fiend for fresh beer @Slumbrew @Wyeastlab @Weyerbacher @sixpoint @SierraNevada | Mr Hops Beer Talk

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