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Fermenting Temp on Houblonmonstre Tripel IPA Extract

My son and I have Houblonmonstre Tripel IPA Extract Kit in the primary now for 13 days. We pitched the Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes at 63*, and it has been in our basement with relatively stable temp between 64* and 67* on the fermometer (checked 2x-3x/day) since. No temp controls, just proximity to the furnace here on arctic Long Island.

Now the background - We never paid too much attention to temperature in the past. Newbie ignorance, but still have produced a few winners. After reading several hundred posts on this forum, we now know that’s one of the most important things to consider. That doesn’t mean we fully “get it” just yet. In our previous beers have had a lot of heavy fermentation activity up front, like in the first three days, due to pitching into something like a 73* wort . For the Houblonmonstre, we knew we had to start a lot cooler. We cooled to 63 and pitched a starter that we had stepped once, and had visible activity after 3 hours. We expected another fast fermentation, but much to our delight, still have visible fermentation, krausen about an inch thick, airlock bubbles every ten seconds or so, and a hearty layer of yeast at the bottom of the 5 gal glass carboy two weeks later.

Here comes the part you guys see so often (fear, worry, unsure, did I ruin, etc.). We are wondering if this restrained fermentation has gone on too long. Our OG was 1.082 and we want to be sure to get the best attenuation. We finally have an active primary fermentation that lasted more a couple of days, and now we’re worried. Ironic, isn’t it? My concern comes after reading posts that say the Belgian characteristics show up with this yeast at “higher temps”, or guys who say they started in the 60’s and slowly brought the beer up to the 70’s. Then I read “just keep it in the mid-sixties and it’ll be great”. So I’m looking for some advice on how to keep it going towards the best combination of levels of attenuation while having optimal Belgian characteristics and flavor. Do I leave it at ~65* or should I bring up the temp over the next (third) week of primary?

I really need to say how terrific this forum is, and to thank you all profusely for taking the time to share your knowledge. I have learned SO much reading these posts. I speak with so many friends who tell me about the dusty brewing gear in their basements, and wonder if they’d have stayed in the hobby if they had the support you provide! I don’t think my ever growing supply of beer gear will ever get dusty. Thanks all!!!

At lower temps the fermentation is more restrained thus taking longer. 10+ days is a little long for a primary fermentation to last but not totally out of the question. Chances are the bubbles you are seeing is off gassing. The lower you ferment beer the more CO2 stays disolved. Most belgian strains to benefit from a slow increase in temps. If it were me I would allow it to get up in the 70*s to finish up and help it attenuate.

Thank you. I will do that. As soon as I got home from work I ran out and bought a submersible aquarium heater and immersed the carboy in a tub of water. I appreciate your advice. Ideally, if I were to do this kit again (and I will), would you suggest a different pitch temp or a different schedule of bringing up the temp? I’m hoping I didn’t screw up by looking for a three week primary and a six week secondary, followed by bottling conditioning/carbonation for three weeks. I think this kit is a winner with the addition of a little dry-hopping.

See how it turns out. You might LOVE it and not want to change. If you want more esters than you need to ferment warmer. Luckily begian yeast are alright with that. When I make belgian beers I will pitch at 65° and hold steady there for 24 hrs after the krausen rises. After 24 hours I will let it free rise.

Okay. My problem is without an assist, the ambient temp is something like 62*, unless I physically move the carboy close to the furnace. I’ll play around. Again, I appreciate your help.

I have my third batch with Belgian Ardennes a week into primary, and I found all three batches were very slow to drop the krausen. This third batch still has a very thin layer. It may just be this strain likes it on top.

I’ve been targeting mid/upper 60s but have had some issues with buggy software in my temp controller, so there have been overnight excursions of getting too cold.

Also, I only just upgraded to a glass primary, so this is the only strain I’ve ever actually been able to watch.

That’s interesting. That’s exactly what I’m seeing on Day 14 in the primary at 67* now. I still see airlock activity and the bubbles on top of the 1 inch krausen seem to be very “fresh”. I think I’ll slowly bring it up to 72* and let it ride in the primary for a third week, rack it to the secondary on Super Bowl Sunday and store the yeast cake. Good luck with yours! I’m thinking the first bottle of this is mid-April business.

I’ve used the Ardeness yeast a number of times. Once, with a Belgian Pale Ale, I purposely kept the fermentation temp low to reduce phenol production. Another time I made the NB Tripel Carmelite with it (used the yeast cake from the BPA) and let the temp rise freely and ended up with great, more pronounced flavor. I recently used it with a Belgian Blond recipe and kept the temp in the low 60s for the first day then let it free rise and the flavors were great. I now have that yeast cake working on a La Chouffe clone recipe where I wanted a lot of flavor, so I transferred the wort at 62 and wrapped my glass carboy with insulation over a ferm wrap and temp controller probe and then let it free ride up. I used the ferm wrap to keep the temps in the mid 70s (basement temp around 62) after the temperature peaked around 75 and the SG went from about 1.070 to 1.007. Tasting the sample, there was a LOT of flavor which I think will work well for the Strong Golden style.

My guess is that with a highly hopped recipe like the IPA, you’d probably want to ferment a bit high to get some of the yeast flavor that the Ardeness yeast produces. I’m thinking of doing that recipe for my “hop head” friends and I think I’d approach the fermentation temp in that way. Any opinions on that?

So, for me, the bottom line is that with the Ardeness yeast, fermentation temperatures will dictate the flavor and you can get the flavor by adjusting the fermentation. In my opinion, this is an awesome yeast that I’ve found can produce wonderful “Belgian” flavors in a variety of Belgian styles. Good luck!

Okay, great. I may try this kit over with the free-rise. Appreciate your comments.

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