Author Topic: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?  (Read 10131 times)

Offline Berkyjay

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Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« on: September 15, 2009, 11:48:40 PM »
I have been doing plenty of research on Belgian Ales, specifically Trappist Ales, over the past year.  One of my main hurdles has been controlling fermentation temp which I documented here a while back.  My brew partner and I just got ourselves a freezer with which to ferment with so I am excited about nailing down one more unknown variable in my brewing process.  So in my research I have found that a lot of the Trappist brewers do a secondary fermentation somewhere in the range of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere from 3-7 days.  I can't say for certain but my main source has been the How to brew like a Monk book by Stan Hieronymus.  Regardless of whether this information is correct or not, I was curious as to the benefits and effects of doing a secondary at this temperature.  I am assuming that the temp can slow down the fermentation thus keeping the yeast from lowing the gravity past what your target.  But are there any other benefits to this?

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 07:02:08 AM »
I'm not positive, but I think they do that to drop the fermentation yeast out.  Then they add a measured dose of new yeast at bottling.  Sometimes it's a different yeast, same yeast or blend. 

When I read that book, I was surprised to learn how many "mass production" tricks the Trappists use to maintain production volume.  Some are crashed to low-30's, few sit around and age anymore.  "Ship it out" is the new monk brewing mantra. 

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2009, 08:48:46 AM »
Great Book! I also cold secondary my Belgians, mainly to clear it and give the Campden tablets time to work before Transferring it to tertiary for bulk conditioning.

Cheers
Preston
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Offline Berkyjay

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2009, 07:20:42 PM »
So does a colder temp help clear the yeast from the beer more so than a warmer temp?

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 06:58:36 AM »
Yeast slows down when gets cold, You can take them safely down to 34F. Do not freeze them, freezing will damage the cell wall and they will die. When they slow down they fall out of solution and the beer clears.

Cheers
Preston
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2009, 09:22:22 AM »
.....give the Campden tablets time to work before Transferring it to tertiary for bulk conditioning. CheersPreston

Why do you use Campden tabs in secondary? 

What is your "typical" secondary and tertiary schedule for belgians? 

I ask because a friend uses his same (lengthy, but successful) lagering/cold conditioning times on belgians that he uses on hybrids.  I've wondered whether he is losing ale aroma over that time. 

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2009, 01:24:24 PM »
Quote
Why do you use Campden tabs in secondary?
I should say that I usually only do this when kegging, and I do it mostly for big beers like Belgians and scotches. It kills any yeast in suspension and any rogue bacteria (from the Gelatin addition) that may have inadvertently crept in. I should also mention that have been know to use Potassium Sorbate on occasion for the same purpose. The difference is the Potassium Sorbate inhibits yeast and does not kill it. Big beers (final gravity above 1.030) will have lots of sugars in suspension which bacteria and wild yeast tend to go after. It is just a precautionary step. I have thought about doing it for all beers and using fresh yeast when bottling, but that drives up the cost of the beer.

Quote
What is your "typical" secondary and tertiary schedule for Belgians?
As I'm sure you know, it would depend on the yeast and the size (OG) of the beer for the primary. Conservatively I would say I have waited up-to a month in primary depending on the OG of the wort. The secondary is usually only about 5-7 days in the beer fridge at 34F to get the yeast to fall out. The tertiary step or cold conditioning is usually for about 90 day's (like a Lager), but that also depends on how big the beer is. I would say that a "standard" Belgian could be ready in 30-90 days. Doubles depending on the grain bill could be 30-120 days. Triple's are ready when they are ready, I don't put a time frame on them. I have a Belgian Triple that has been going for almost 6 months now and it is still not ready.

Quote
I ask because a friend uses his same (lengthy, but successful) lagering/cold conditioning times on belgians that he uses on hybrids.  I've wondered whether he is losing ale aroma over that time.
Sugar additions in Belgians need time to age, also Belgians are not hoppy so you are not loosing anything there. As far as hybrids go, that would depend on a lot of factors like grain bill, hops, and if any sugar additions were added. There is nothing wrong with waiting IMO. Typically beer gets better with age right?  ;D

Cheers
Preston
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 01:48:15 PM »
Thanks.  I have one freezer, dedicated to primary only.  I have considered putting some secondaries in my beer shed which stays about 54F to let them come together.   Or sometimes raising that storage temp to 60F to ferment hybrids. 

Offline Berkyjay

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Re: Lagering Belgian Ale in the secondary?
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2009, 01:17:18 AM »
Quote
Why do you use Campden tabs in secondary?
I should say that I usually only do this when kegging, and I do it mostly for big beers like Belgians and scotches. It kills any yeast in suspension and any rogue bacteria (from the Gelatin addition) that may have inadvertently crept in. I should also mention that have been know to use Potassium Sorbate on occasion for the same purpose. The difference is the Potassium Sorbate inhibits yeast and does not kill it. Big beers (final gravity above 1.030) will have lots of sugars in suspension which bacteria and wild yeast tend to go after. It is just a precautionary step. I have thought about doing it for all beers and using fresh yeast when bottling, but that drives up the cost of the beer.

Quote
What is your "typical" secondary and tertiary schedule for Belgians?
As I'm sure you know, it would depend on the yeast and the size (OG) of the beer for the primary. Conservatively I would say I have waited up-to a month in primary depending on the OG of the wort. The secondary is usually only about 5-7 days in the beer fridge at 34F to get the yeast to fall out. The tertiary step or cold conditioning is usually for about 90 day's (like a Lager), but that also depends on how big the beer is. I would say that a "standard" Belgian could be ready in 30-90 days. Doubles depending on the grain bill could be 30-120 days. Triple's are ready when they are ready, I don't put a time frame on them. I have a Belgian Triple that has been going for almost 6 months now and it is still not ready.

Quote
I ask because a friend uses his same (lengthy, but successful) lagering/cold conditioning times on belgians that he uses on hybrids.  I've wondered whether he is losing ale aroma over that time.
Sugar additions in Belgians need time to age, also Belgians are not hoppy so you are not loosing anything there. As far as hybrids go, that would depend on a lot of factors like grain bill, hops, and if any sugar additions were added. There is nothing wrong with waiting IMO. Typically beer gets better with age right?  ;D

Cheers
Preston

Wow, you take a long time to get your Belgian to bottle/keg.  I don't do anything more than a week in primary and normally a week in secondary.  Then I bottle and leave them in a warm place for 2 weeks then it's down to the garage for a few months.  Am I reading you wrong or do you really leave the beer in carboys for a month or more?

 

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