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First Tripel

It’s taken me a long time to develop an appreciation for the belgian beers but slowly started to like them more and more. So I am making my first tripel.

I’m basically going to model after Denny’s Westcoastmalle recipe.

What I have on hand is german pils (no belgian pils in stock).

85% pils
15% sugar

I have Tetnang/Saaz, roughly 50/50 ratio. I also have some high-alpha hops as needed for bittering.

OG 1.08
IBU 38

WYeast 3787 on the stir plate right now.

I have two questions that I have read up on, but would still like to reinforce by asking those with practical experience:

  1. Is there ANY reason that I should pay the $ for true belgian candi sugar instead of just using table sugar?
  2. With regard to fermentation: I see recommendations to start out low-mid 60s and let temp rise. I get the concept, but how precise is that process controlled?

Thanks to all for any suggestions.

  1. No.

  2. What is your method for temp control? The real crux of this is that the ferment doesn’t generate much in the way of esters/phenols after the first few days, so letting it rise (ie bringing the fermenter to a warmer, high 60’s room) naturally will suffice to ensure full attenuation. Keeping it low early on will keep everything subtle…and delicious.

[quote=“Pietro”]1) No.

  1. What is your method for temp control? The real crux of this is that the ferment doesn’t generate much in the way of esters/phenols after the first few days, so letting it rise (ie bringing the fermenter to a warmer, high 60’s room) naturally will suffice to ensure full attenuation. Keeping it low early on will keep everything subtle…and delicious.[/quote]

  2. Thank you. That is what I have thought. Do you boil the table suar the full length of the boil to facilitate sugar “inversion”?

  3. I have external temp control in a dedicated fridge. I planned on chilling to 62 and keeping the external temp at 62 to start. Ambient temp is about 68 in the basement.

[quote=“Pietro”]1) No.

  1. What is your method for temp control? The real crux of this is that the ferment doesn’t generate much in the way of esters/phenols after the first few days, so letting it rise (ie bringing the fermenter to a warmer, high 60’s room) naturally will suffice to ensure full attenuation. Keeping it low early on will keep everything subtle…and delicious.[/quote]

+1 to both of these. I’d also add that I like to do a simple step mash to make a highly fermentable wort. I do a 15min rest at 130F, then step up to 148F and hold for 60min. You could probably skip the first step, but you definitely want to mash low, in the upper 140’s.

Any thoughts on the possibility of adding the sugar during the primary? I’m not trying to make this overy complex if I don’t have to. But there is a theory that the yeast may attenuate more easily if it has already started consuming sugars from the grain before the simple sugar is added.

I usually add it during the last 5-15min of the boil, but I do know a few guys in my brew club that add it once primary fermentation shows signs of slowing down. Usually somewhere around day 3-4. I’ve never compared the two practices side by side so I can’t comment on which works better, but I can say I currently have a Tripel conditioning in a keg and it went from 1.095 to 1.008 with no problems (adding sugar to the boil). Here’s my recipe and procedure.

73% Pils
14% Cane sugar
5% Carapils
5% Aromatic

Wyeast 1399 Golden Strong Ale

Mashed at 130F for 15min. Stepped up to 148F for 60min. Batch sparge at 168F for 10min. Added sugar at the 15min mark. Pitched around 65F and held for 48hrs. Raised the temp into the mid 70’s and held for the duration of fermentation. The attenuation was 91.5%.

This is a good method that I use on most belgian ales or anything that should be dry that requires simple sugar.

The theory is correct. Think of being really hungry and being presented with a snickers, then an aged ribeye 20 minutes later. You want them to metabolize more complex sugars first.

My typical process is to boil an equal weight of water to the sugar you are adding, then once it hits a boil, kill the heat, add the sugar, dissolve and cool it down. Add the simple syrup directly to the fermenter on day 3-4 BEFORE raising the temp , and let it ferment another day or two in the low 60’s. Don’t let anyone tell you the ferment temp doesn’t matter once you add the sugar. I let it free rise and got fusel alcohol in the past.

[quote=“dobe12”][quote=“Pietro”]1) No.

  1. What is your method for temp control? The real crux of this is that the ferment doesn’t generate much in the way of esters/phenols after the first few days, so letting it rise (ie bringing the fermenter to a warmer, high 60’s room) naturally will suffice to ensure full attenuation. Keeping it low early on will keep everything subtle…and delicious.[/quote]

+1 to both of these. I’d also add that I like to do a simple step mash to make a highly fermentable wort. I do a 15min rest at 130F, then step up to 148F and hold for 60min. You could probably skip the first step, but you definitely want to mash low, in the upper 140’s.[/quote]

I mash my tripels at 148 for 90 min. I add the sugar to the kettle and get great fermentability. For reference, here’s my favorite tripel recipe…it’s really close to Westmalle.

http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/Westcoastmalle

If you’re following good brewing practices (pitching enough healhty yeast, oxygenating/aerating, etc.), you shouldn’t have any attenuation problems when adding the sugar during the boil.

If you have not used Wyeast 3787 before, it really jumps. I usually split my batch between 2 carboys with 3 gallons in each. If the yeast blows out the top, you may not get full attenuation. I usually start in the mid 60s and let it go to 68-70 for a week-10 days. I then let it warm up to the mid 70s for a week to make sure it finishes. Styrian Goldings are another great finishing hop for a tripel. I usually just add white table sugar the last 10 min of the boil.

If you’re following good brewing practices (pitching enough healhty yeast, oxygenating/aerating, etc.), you shouldn’t have any attenuation problems when adding the sugar during the boil.[/quote]

THIS^^^^. I’ve tried it both ways and if you’re pitching like you should, there’s no advantage to adding it later.

I appreciate all of the suggestions.

Brewed today, and just pitched the yeast. I probably would have split it up in two carboys if I had checked this thread today! But instead I have the 5.5 gal in an 8 gal plastic bucket. I am hopeful I can contain the fermentation without much blowoff,… what do you think?

Also, I did withhold the sugar to add in during primary. So maybe this will help keep the krausen level down a bit.

Do you think that 60 is too low to start the ferment? That is where it sits now. Wondering if I should warm it up or let it go on its own.

Also, just because I cannot help myself from making things overly complicated, I made candi sugar from table sugar, which is what I will be adding in later. It was actually kind of fun to make.

Thanks again for the help!

Why bother with homemade candi sugar? The Belgian brewers either use table sugar or syrup.

Because…

I decided to add the sugar to primary instead of the kettle.

The yeast can skip the invertase step if you use pre-inverted sugar.

Because it was easy.

Because, Iike I said above, I tend to make things more complicated, but then again, maybe a little more interesting, especially for first time trying a style.

BTW, the cadi sugar tastes really good, it has a light amber color and mild caramalized flavor to it. I think it tastes better then table sugar.

[quote=“Steeler D”]
Because…

I decided to add the sugar to primary instead of the kettle.

The yeast can skip the invertase step if you use pre-inverted sugar.

Because it was easy.

Because, Iike I said above, I tend to make things more complicated, but then again, maybe a little more interesting, especially for first time trying a style.

BTW, the cadi sugar tastes really good, it has a light amber color and mild caramalized flavor to it. I think it tastes better then table sugar.[/quote]

Still unnecessary to invert it

Easy, but you wasted time and energy

You’ll get over it

I’ve reached final gravity at 1.008. Fermentation went from 60 up to 78. I like the esters in it. It is pretty hot from the alcohol. Hopefully that will mellow out.

I assume best practice for aging is just to crash cool and be patient. What is typical time to age? Hoping 2 months gets it in the ballpark.

2 months should be plenty. It might even take less time. Fusels almost always age out into esters, so yo should be fine.

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