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WY 3724, yet again

I realize much has been said about this, but I wanted to see if I’m managing the situation correctly.

I brewed a simple Saison recipe yesterday and pitched an appropriate amount of starter culture of WY 3724. Within about five hours there was fermentation activity underway and this morning it was chugging along quite well. I pitched at 74F and expected that the yeast activity would increase the temp up into the low 80s by today, but it stayed around 74. From what I’ve heard, this yeast likes it hot, so I dialed up the temp to 78 and it seems that the activity has increased. Granted, this is nothing like the extreme fermentation produced by, say, WY 3787, but decent.

My question is, how much more should I bump up the temperature and how rapidly? I’m concerned that if I don’t get the temp into the mid 80s soon, the fermentation may stall. I was hoping to see if I could get past this yeast’s notorious problems by adding more nutrient, doing a low mash temp, doubled oxygenation, etc.

If I still get a stalled fermentation and don’t want to wait weeks for it to slowly finish, what yeast would you add and would you add it as you would a starter culture – in growth phase?

Thanks

I’ve brewed 30+ batches with this yeast (or the White Lab equivalent) and, for some lucky reason, this yeast has never given me any problems with stalling. Below I list the possible reasons this yeast works so well for me - copying from my NB review of this yeast.

It sounds like you’re doing everything right in terms of a yeast starter, low mash temp, and higher fermentation temps. I typically start fermentation in the high 70s. If I make a starter or repitch from a previous patch there is very little lag time. After approximately 2 days of active fermentation I slap on the brew belt which brings the temp up to the low to mid 80s. I simply let the yeast rock out at this temp for 3 weeks and do nothing else to it. Never had any problems or had to use another yeast to finish it off.

So I would say get it to the mid 80s … I don’t think this can be done too rapidly as liquid takes a while to adjust to ambient temp changes. Then don’t even think about it for 3 weeks. Good luck and keep us posted.


Why does this saison yeast always work for me

  1. Always make a starter to insure you’re pitching enough yeast
  2. Mash low (144-148).
  3. Ferment hot (I use a brewbelt to get in the 80-85 range)
  4. I keep the beer in primary for about 3 weeks; no secondary.
  5. Fermenter geometry? I always use the larger 7.9 plastic buckets. Perhaps the yeast like more surface area exposure.
  6. Water chemistry? My water is pretty typical in terms of brewing parameters except that it is high in sulfate (around 200 ppm). Maybe this yeast prefers more sulfate that other yeasts. The sulfate also enhances the perceived dryness/tartness of the beer.
  7. I believe this yeast is introverted and gets nervous when its brewer is constantly fussing with it. Don’t touch or think about the beer for 3 weeks and it will happy ferment in peaceful isolation.

Thanks, MD. I did read your comments on the NB review of this yeast. I suspect that the key is really time – that it takes a bit longer for this yeast. I brew primarily Belgians and those yeasts are pretty fast by comparison. I will often leave them in the primary long past the completion of fermentation to clean up residual off flavor compounds, but the vast majority of fermentation is done within a week usually – so I suppose I’m a bit spoiled.

It’s now 2 days after pitching and I turned the temp up on my ferm-wrap w/ temp controller to 84. It’s still chugging along slowly – didn’t even need the blowoff tube since the foam never rose much past about 2 inches above the wort. This is definitely a strange fermentation for me. I hope I get the taste I’m looking for. I really liked the WY3711, but didn’t think it had the Saison taste I wanted.

So, I’ll take your advice and keep the temp at about 85F. Did you keep that temp for the full 3 weeks?

As long as I have your attention, I wanted to ask your advice on my recipe, the hops in particular. I used the basic Saison recipe from “Brewing Classic Styles” with Hallertauer as my 60 min bittering. But I experimented with the flavor/aroma hops. I used a combination (about half and ounce each) of Styrian Aurora and French Strisselspalt at 10 min and 2 min. My intent was to emulate the St. Fullien Saison that comes in four packs of cans – just love the hop flavor without the high level of bitterness. Any comments on this hop approach?

I think I’ll be brewing a lot of Saison since I’ve had very good results (hope this batch continues my luck) and most of my friends like them as well. I’m not using any spices yet, but may if I can get this 3724 to work.

Thanks again!

I agree that if handled properly, you won’t have any problem with this yeast. I disagree that you need to ferment this yeast in the 80s. I’ve fermented several batches with this yeast in the 60s, and at least one in the low 60s. They all did fine. Personally, I would never (again) bring this yeast into the 80s, as it is unnecessary and runs the risk of fusels and other undesirables. Mid-70s is plenty for added complexity.

As someone who is using this yeast for the first time, I’m a bit confused about the various ideas about proper fermentation for 3724. In “Farmhouse Ales” there is discussion of this topic and it sounds like there’s probably a time factor that influences fermentation more than flavor production. Markowski cites the example of Brasserie Dupont fermenting between 85 an 95F in order to reduce fermentation time. The author also states that you can also get good flavor production at temps around 75 - 80F as well. He makes no mention of problems with fusiles and other undesirable products at the higher temps, but I don’t know if that means that it isn’t an issue. He presents a graph of how he personally ferments, starting around 80F peaking in 3 -4 days at about 85, then letting the temp drop slowly to about 76 at around day 21.

My own perspective is that I’d like to see my batch finish as fast as possible without the fusiles, etc., but I haven’t seen anything substantiated about the risk of that happening at high temps of 85 and above. So, if anyone can give me some direction about why I shouldn’t run this fermentation at 85F today (day 3) and beyond, please let me know. Based on Markowski’s fermentation graph, page 176, I’m tempted to drop the temp about a degree every other day so that in 20 days from now I’d be at 75.

BTW, I took a sample today when I took off the blowoff tube I didn’t need and the SG is at 1.034, but it’s still bubbling slowly but consistently through the airlock. I like what I’m tasting albeit too sweet. Not as much hop taste as I’d hoped for, but I imagine that may come with further fermentation and carbonation.

Comments?

I agree with sl8w that mid-70s will definitely give you a nice saison character but it still think it helps to ramp up the temp on this yeast a few days after active fermentation starts. It is my understanding that fusel alcohol production (as well as most other yeast-derived flavor compounds) are a by-product of yeast reproduction so you mainly have to think about them into the initial part of fermentation when the yeast are multiplying. That is why I start this yeast in the mid-70s but don’t worry about any temp derived off-flavors in the later part of the fermentation process. I have been using this method for years and haven’t gotten any fusel alcohol. It is interesting that sl8w has successfully fermented this yeast at much lower temperatures. This leads me to think there is some other factor besides temperature that makes this yeast freak out, like fermenter geometry, water chemistry, etc. I think I read somewhere (Farmhouse Ales?) that this yeast might be a mutant wine yeast, which would explain why there isn’t much krausen and it doesn’t act like other ale strains.

Antwerp, I do leave the brew belt on the beer for a full three weeks. If you are used to quickly fermenting yeasts I suppose this is a long time. For all I know the yeast may stall at some point because I don’t know because I don’t bother checking it … In this case I suppose my laziness turns out to be a virtue.

I haven’t had the St. Fullien Saison saison so I can’t comment on that particular hop profile. A general technique that gives me good hop flavor/aroma is to add your late hops after boil and steep them for 20-30 minutes before chilling down the wort. You could try that if the hop flavor isn’t quite where you want it. I did this on a stronger saison with 1 oz each of Amarillo and Citra and it was a big hit.

Thanks again, MD. What do you think of Markowski’s gradual temp reduction approach? I imagine that he isn’t using a glass carboy like me, so I think you’re right that fermenter geometry may play a role as well. As well, the issue of fusiles being produced by multipying yeast may well argue for pitching a starter, although some people claim that underpitching is a good approach for Saisons. I’ve read many comments about the lack of off-flavors with Saison yeast, so maybe it isn’t much of an issue, particularly when those that pitch right out of the tube or packet don’t have issues. What can you really conclude with all the varying approaches that work?

I think I’m going to have fun trying out different hopping approaches for Saisons and your technique has given me another possibility. I just wonder whether that long before chilling is a problem since I’ve read that chilldown should be as rapid as possible. But I also realize you can’t argue with success.

Have you tried White Labs 566 Saison II or WL 568 Saison blend? I’d like to find something that produces flavors like 3724, but without the long fermentation.

I’ve read Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales but don’t recall his gradual temp reduction method. What is it? Haven you tried it? I guess I should revisit the book.

I actually haven’t intentionally underpitching a saison yeast because I suspect that might be part of the stalling problem and I’ve gotten enough yeast character out of bigger pitches that I don’t see the need.

I think the emphasis on rapid chilling has to do with infection - the longer the wort sits around the greater the chances of something getting in it. I haven’t had any issues with this because the wort is still quite hot and if you pitch enough healthy yeast it is going to out-compete any other organisms that happen to float in. Maybe I’m just lucky. I’ve had a few unlucky moths and other assorting bugs fly into the wort with no noticeable ill effects on the final product.

As far as other yeast strains I’ve pretty much stuck with the Wyeast 3724 and the WLP 565 equivalent. The only other saison yeast I’ve played around with is the Wyeast 3726 strain which is one of their limited releases. I prefer the 3726 - it has an interesting dry/spicy finish and doesn’t give off the bubblegum flavor I sometimes get out the standard strains. I’ve tried to really get down one yeast and manipulate the recipes. If they put the 3726 out again snatch it up.

You’ll have fun playing around with saisons. There is so much you can with them in terms of malts, hops, herbs, brett, and all sort of non-standard ingredients. I could probably brew only saisons for the rest of my life and not get bored.

I usually pitch my saisons at 68 and then let them rise into the 90s after a day or so. I just put them out in the garage which stays very hot from April to October. WL 565 is my favorite, and I have used it many times at various temperatures. My early attempts were fermented at 65-68, and always seemed to come out too sweet. Now, I usually just let it sit for 4-5 weeks and don’t worry about it. I bottle it all when I have time, and it comes out great. Last summer I tried a split batch with 566, and it is also a tasty example. I thought it had a bit crisper finish. Some of my friends preferred it over 565. I think I like the 565 better, because it seems to come out more complex than the other strains I have tried. This summer I tried split batches with 3711 and 3725. I like the 3711, and have had lots of compliments at club meetings. The 3725 is supposedly Fantome yeast, and I think it is much cleaner/less spicy than any of the other strains I have tried. I know Fantome uses a lot of spices so this yeast may need that to make the beer more complex. I fermented the 3711 and 3725 in the house at 78 degrees. I did not chance the high temps with new yeasts. I just bottled my 565 example that was the split batch with 3725 so I have not compared them yet. At bottling, the 565 definitely had a hint of red wine character.

MD – Markowski’s brewery brings it up to 84 or so after three days then drops it one degree every other day until it has fermented for three weeks. At least that’s what the chart implies. I’ve decided not to try it for my first batch, but to leave the temp constant at 84. From an OG of 1.059, it went to 1.034 after three days and today (a week later) it’s down to 1.027, so I’m content to let it ride out the way you’ve done your batches. The only other thing I’m doing is swirling the carboy contents a bit based on what I’ve read elsewhere that perhaps 3724 is not very tolerant of dissolved CO2. From what I’ve seen, the bubbling does pick up a bit for the next few hours after swirling.

I feel a bit more comfortable leaving the ferm wrap on my carboy now that I found a non-flammable form of insulation – I wrapped the carboy with mylar bubble wrap and the heat is rarely on due to the bubble wrap’s good insulation.

Clearly, I’ve got a lot to learn with Saisons, but I expect that it will be an interesting education.

To SA – 3725 is listed as a Bier De Garde yeast which would seem to me to be a different profile of flavors than a Saison yeast, but what do I know. I realize that WY 3522 is used to make Saisons as well and I’m seriously considering making the Surly Cynic clone from NB using 3522. One of our local taverns now has several La Chouffe beers on tap and I really liked the Golden Ale, so 3522 would be one that I’d use the yeast cake for something after the Surly Cynic Saison. I used it to make a Triple Karmelite clone and it was wonderful. I really like that yeast, especially since it floculates well in addition to it’s quick fermentation. I also liked 3711, but I wanted to see what a more “authentic” Saison yeast does which is why I tried 3724 despite knowing I was going to have a very different fermentation than all the other yeasts I’ve used up to now.

I did some research on the BDG 3725 after I purchased it. Mr. Malty may have had it listed, but I don’t remember exactly where I got the info that is was Fantome yeast. It definitely has more of a spicy saison character than the clean, malty profile of a real BDG. I have only tried a taste at a club meeting though. It has just been in the bottle for a couple of weeks so I have not started drinking it yet.

3522/550 is a great yeast and easy to use. I use that yeast every other year or so for a change. I find that 3787/530 has a bit more complexity and ages better. If I am going to drink a beer without much age, I will opt for 550. I usually keep my fermentation under 78 for that yeast though.

Having tasted a few Fantome beers, I’m fairly certain that they have a mixed culture fermentation. While 3725 may be isolated from Fantome, I highly doubt it is the only organism present in Fantome’s brewery. The taste is so unique in their beers that it’s hard for me to put my finger on what it is… most likely some brett, and maybe even some lacto.

Last night I kegged and put in the kegerator two cornys of a Dupont Saison clone I made using 3724, that I mashed at 148F. I pitched a little too warm at 78F, trying to follow Markowski’s home brewery schedule while forgetting that no yeast should be pitched that warm for the first couple days. It went up to 80F quickly overnight and I didn’t let it get hotter until ~48 hrs into the ferment, and thought I was screwed because there was a bit of a solventy smell so I thought I got fusels. However, seemingly miraculously it TOTALLY disappeared after a few days and I took it as hot as 90F. One bucket fermenter dropped SG quickly like within a week, while the other one was much slower and I swirled it a couple days, and kept it hot but slowly ramped down the temp while staying in the 80’s since the SG was slow to come down. After a couple weeks I stayed low 80’s and then down to high-70’s then mid-70’s and after 22 days the fermenter that dropped more quickly was finished at 1.007 (I think had been there for some time) and the other wasn’t far behind at 1.008 at which point I briefly cold crashed and then kegged and chilled.

They both tasted fine but the one that finished completely also had a bit of hop residue and trub from transfer from the keg kettle through a strainer, and it wasn’t as clean tasting or light colored as the other fermenter. I made a note to self to make sure to make enough, or transfer less to fermenters next time so as to leave behind all hop spooge and trub for this beer. Still, I got a nice beer even fermenting hot to ensure it finished. This is one amazing yeast for its heat tolerance!

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