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Yeast Selection for a Crisp Belgian

I need some advice for my next batch. I guess I’m trying to do a strong (7%) belgian pale ale, with a simple grain bill with most of the characteristics coming from the yeast. I want to go relatively dry with this so it is nice and crisp, and I want the yeast to have a good balance of esters and phenols, with a delicate fruit flavor/aroma and some spiciness to it.

Grain bill will probably be mostly pils (or a combination of pale and pils), with some aromatic and a light caramel malt. Leaning towards a deep golden sunset color. I want malt depth, but still want to maintain a crisp and refreshing aspect.

I’ve used a variety of belgian yeast strains but as far as I can remember, I’ve only really dabbled in the darker belgian styles (not counting saisons). I like 1214, but I really would prefer to avoid any banana esters, so this may be a bad choice. To some degree, I am trying to emulate some of the characteristics of Goose Island’s Matilda, which is spicy, crisp, and slightly fruity. I realize they add Brett which contributes to that perception, but I think a standard belgian yeast strain can do the job I want as well. I don’t necessarily need any barnyard goat characteristics. Some of the spiciness will come from the Saaz as well.

Any recommendations for a yeast for this style of brew would be helpful. Thanks!

I say 3787 if you want it on the fruitier side and 1388 if you want it on the cleaner side. Ferment in the low-mid 60s. Both are far less estery than 1214.

This sounds more like a blond ale than Belgian Pale (more like Leffe/less like De Koninck or Rare Vos.) I usually use white labs for my Belgians. I like 530 Abby Ale (Westmalle) if I am going to age the beer for a while, and 550 Belgian Ale yeast (Achouffe) if I am going to drink it quickly. I have never had banana beer with either of these strains (I don’t like bananas.) I think the Wyeast substitutes are 3787 Trappist High Gravity, and 3522 Ardennes.

I usually ferment in the mid 60s for 2-3 days, and then let my fermenter go up to 75-78 for a week. I cool the beer back down to the mid 60s to bottle. My blond finishes out from 1.006-1.008 from a start of 1.052-5. I think both yeasts have a citrus character, but I also use Styrian Goldings or Saaz in the finish, and both of those hops can be citrusy.

I am not a big fan of the Duvel strain. It is too clean for me, but some of our brew club members have made really good Golden strongs with it. I just prefer more character in my blond.

I love 3522 although I’d call it more spicy than fruity, but it is so easy to make good beer with it as long as your mash pH is good. Add a little sugar to help with the crispness, tasty in my opinion.

Thanks, I brewed on Sunday and ended up going with 3787 since I’ve never tried it in a lighter belgian and was feeling curious. I pitched at 68 which was a little warmer than I wanted, and it’s on the rise to the mid 70s. I had some light candi syrup that I forgot to add during the boil, so I’m planning on adding it to the primary tonight. 3787 is a top cropping monster, I’m not even sure the candi syrup will break through the 6 inches of foam. My plan was to dilute it in a cup or two of water so it mixes better, but other suggestions are welcome.

I really like 3522 as well, have used it in a saison and belgian pale. I think it would be really good in a tripel, which I plan to brew up at some point.

3787 is great in lighter Belgians. It’s the Westmalle yeast and they invented the tripel style, so it makes sense.

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