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WLP 550 - The Belgian Beast

Brewed a Belgian Pale Ale yesterday. Pitched around 5 PM. Came downstairs at 6 AM this morning, to a mess! Not a very good picture, but you can see the airlocks were blown off and krausen was all over the shirts covering the carboys.

I figured I would need blowoffs put on, but not so quickly! This is my first time using this yeast, and it’s on a tear… lesson learned.

Some of the Belgian Yeast can be frisky. I just had a blow off using WL530 Abbey Yeast. I had my normal headspace and it was fermenting at 62F.
The use off so much simple sugar might have something to do with it but I will just put on a blow off tube to start now.
I know some brewers like to ferment Belgians at warmer temps. but I think to start off pitch cooler like 62F then when everything is under control let the temp. warm up to finish strong.

I went back and forth on if I should start the fermentation on the cool or warm side. I ended up pitching at 70, and it’s fermenting around 72 now. From what I’ve read, this is actually the lower end of where most let 550 do its work. Should be interesting though…

When using these yeasts, I often split 5-6 gallons into two fermenters. A blow off is usually fine, but if you are fermenting a tripel or strong dark, you don’t want to blow the yeast out of the carboy. You will end up with too sweet a beer if all of the yeast does not stay in the carboy. WL 550 makes a great blond, but WL 515 is better for a Belgian Pale Ale. It ferments much cleaner, and has some of the lager characteristics of fresh De Koninck.

Thanks for the tip on 515. I thought I might be able to get away with normal head space as this is only a 1.048 beer. There is some rye in the bill, so I thought the 550 might help with some spice and work with the peppery rye flavor. We’ll see…

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