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Belgian Beer: Bottle w/ Secondary Yeast, Keg, Or . . .

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Halowords

Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:11 am

Belgian Beer: Bottle w/ Secondary Yeast, Keg, Or . . .

Hey all,

I have a question for a specific batch, but would like to know for future batches as well. Anyway . . .

I have a batch of La Chouffe in the secondary waiting for me to have the time to either bottle it, or clear out the last glass or two in my keg. It has been there for a while (probably two or three months) so if I bottle it I will need to add more yeast.

I have heard from some (Joe F., this means you, amongst others) that bottle conditioned beers taste better, in particular Belgians. However, since I will not likely be using the same yeast (I have some nice dry-yeast on hand, but no Ardennes Yeast) will I get anything special from bottle conditioning with a neutral American yeast, namely US-56, that I would not get from force carbonating in a keg? Is it worth it to actually buy a smack pack of Ardennes yeast and repitch before bottling or kegging?

As for generalizations, how about using secondary strains of yeast in all styles? Do you have to use the primary strain of yeast for bottle conditioning to be "better" than kegging? Will fresh yeast of any sort help the beer age better in bottle or in keg?

As for my batch of LaChouffe, I am either going to:

1) Keg it;
2) Add US-56 to it and bottle, or;
3) Order a smack pack of Ardennes, pitch, and bottle.

I generally keg everything, but Belgians are just special to me, so if I can get them to taste better I will go an extra step or two for them. I HAVE enjoyed kegs of homebrewed versions of Delirium Tremens, Rochefort 10, and I think a few other Belgian brews, so I know they're good that way. I am just wondering if they will necessarily be BETTER if I bottle them. Feel free to advise away.

-Cheers
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Brewhobby

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Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:41 pm

Well, I don't know if there's a correct answer to your questions but I'll tell you what works for me. I always bottle condition my Belgians and always repitch a Belgian yeast for conditioning, not necessarily the same as was used in primary but always a Belgian yeast. Bottle conditioning brings out more flavors and aromas typical of these beers. Using a neutral yeast at bottling would probably be ok but you have to know the yeast and it may take a few batches to get the proper carbonation and you may not be sure if it can handle the higher alcohol. I like to use WL570 in most of my Goldens/Tripels and always have an extra starter in my chest freezer ready to make more starters. A lot of times I'll use the 570 to bottle condition my Belgians because that's what I have available and it can handle higher alcohol levels. A suggestion would be to get a vial of 570, split it into two starters, save one for another Belgian beer and use the other to bottle condition your La Chouffe.
Primary- Czech Pilsner, IIPA
Secondary- IIPA, BVIP, Doppelbock, Baltic Porter
Kegged- A whole lotta beer
On Tap- Helles, Pale Ale, Rye IPA
Next Up- BVIP, IPA
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ryan6458

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Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:52 pm

I don't brew a lot of Belgians, but when I do I force carb. Mainly because I hate bottling. I think another reason people tend to bottle condition Belgian beers is because they are usually carbed at a higher level than most other styles. I actually have an extra piece of beverage tubing that I use for wheats and Belgians. That way I can carb these beers at a higher pressure without over carbing other beers on tap. 8)
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Halowords

Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:58 pm

Brewhobby wrote:Bottle conditioning brings out more flavors and aromas typical of these beers.


Why? I am not doubting you or denying that's the way it is, just wondering what would cause a difference.

I can kind of see if you use a Belgian yeast that it would add SOMETHING, but how much does that little bit of fermentation add over what has already taken place in the primary fermentation? If I use a neutral yeast, it will not add any extra flavors or aromas, so why would bottle conditioning bring out flavors & aromas that the carbonation of forced-carb would not?

Again, not trying to argue or debunk your experience, just trying to figure out the how's and why's of what makes it work that way.

-Cheers
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Brewhobby

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Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:09 pm

Most Belgian beers are highly carbonated, somewhere in the 3.5-4.5 volumes of CO2. The high carbonation brings out the effervescense and complexity of aromas and flavors that a lower carbonated beer doesn't, and think about the huge head and retention most Belgian beers have. You can't get the same carbonation in a keg and serve it properly, it just isn't the same. Trust me on this, try it for yourself.
Primary- Czech Pilsner, IIPA
Secondary- IIPA, BVIP, Doppelbock, Baltic Porter
Kegged- A whole lotta beer
On Tap- Helles, Pale Ale, Rye IPA
Next Up- BVIP, IPA
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HomeBrew

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Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:37 pm

I can kind of see if you use a Belgian yeast that it would add SOMETHING, but how much does that little bit of fermentation add over what has already taken place in the primary fermentation?


It not just growth, you also have breakdown of the yeast during bottle conditioning/ ageing. This will add additional characteristics...Whether or not it is desirable depends on what you are brewing and different yeast strains will contribute different characteristics.
Fermentation microbiologist by trade, homebrewer by choice.
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ryan6458

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Post Tue Oct 23, 2007 2:05 pm

Brewhobby wrote:Most Belgian beers are highly carbonated, somewhere in the 3.5-4.5 volumes of CO2. The high carbonation brings out the effervescense and complexity of aromas and flavors that a lower carbonated beer doesn't, and think about the huge head and retention most Belgian beers have. You can't get the same carbonation in a keg and serve it properly, it just isn't the same. Trust me on this, try it for yourself.


I have. I use about 12 feet of 3/16 tubing and serve at about 20 psi. Very spritzy.
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Halowords

Post Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:45 am

If I bottle this stuff, will it taste any better using a Belgian yeast to bottle vs. US-56? I will probably not get a chance to brew anytime soon with a 3-month old running (well, trying to turn herself over) around unless I really squeeze it into my schedule. If it WILL taste better with a Belgian yeast, I can maybe try to buy myself a brewday in the next few weeks, then make a huge starter that I can split between the batch of LaChouffe and some other Belgian beer shortly down the road. If I plan it right, I guess I COULD use it for that Belgian Braggot I have been thinking of for a while.

-Cheers

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