Refining my recipe for Belgian Golden Strong

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jay3847, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. jay3847

    jay3847 Member

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    I would like to tame the esters and phenols I am getting from my Belgian Golden Strong beers. I am successfully attenuating but I think it is at the cost of really driving the esters, plus I am getting acetaldehyde. What are people’s thoughts about how I can improve?


    By way of background, I am brewing this recipe over and over in order to improve my processes. I am doing 2 gallon batched, all grain, using sous vide to hold temperature in a three step mash: 131 10 mins, 146 60 mins, 155 30 mins, mashout for 10 minutes.

    Recipe:

    78% Belgian Pilsner

    13% Invert sugar from regular table sugar

    4% Melanoidin

    .5 oz Styrian Goldings at 60 mins

    .25 oz Saaz at 30 mins and 5 mins.

    OG 1.077 FG 1.008 9%

    WLP570 (my pitch rate has varied and this could well be the issue from what I have read. If anything, I have over-pitched).

    Oxygenate via shaking and then 20 seconds oxygen with a stone.

    Pitch at 64 and slowly rise up to 78 or 80 by day 5 or 6.

    Let sit in primary for two weeks, bottle carb with sugar drops, and then sit for a couple weeks.

    The beer comes out brilliant, well carbed, the alcohol isn't too hot, but just too many esters. I like the clove in the phenol.
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    1. More oxygen. Oxygenate at first, don't shake, no need to..
    2. If this is a 5-gallon batch, pitch rate. I'd do a 2 liter starter for this at five gallons. Overpitch would not cause the problem.
    3. If you want to control your esters, control your temperature. Higher means higher esters.
    4. The step mash is not required with this grain bill. You can go single infusion and save yourself some time. Won't affect the esters, though.
    Looking at your process I was expecting hot alcohol and you didn't disappoint. Too little oxygen and too little yeast can cause that. If you're brewing to try to improve or stabilize your process, this is not a good beer, as fermentation control is what makes or breaks you at this ABV. Try something like a pale ale. Once you've mastered that, move on to this to learn to control a Belgian-style (big) fermentation.
     
  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Here's my Golden strong:
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/view/816861/golden-strong-10
    Not so different from yours but a little more simple. I added some 2-row for extra character. My yeast was split with Belgian and German lager yeast because my initial pitch wasn't quite trustworthy.
    The result was a fantastic beer. Just a little fruity/spicy Belgian quality, very strong malty/boozy notes. It might loose style points for lack of strong Belgian flavor but the combination of yeasts gave it a very unique and very drinkable flavor. @Nosybear has sampled that beer. I think he'll attest to it's quaff-ability. :D
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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  5. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    If you have any improvements I'm all ears. I've done a bunch of changes to my Belgian singles to try and tame the yeast and I'm still not happy. This includes the first three of Nosy's suggestion. I've overpitched and fermented at the bottom of the recommended range, right in the middle and at the top. None of these have made much of a difference, at least at my 12 litre batch scale.

    I've now seen a few different sources that are saying the opposite of the most common pitching rate suggestion. They're saying to underpitch.

    Ester formation needs an enzyme that yeast produce, alcohol acetate transferase (AAT). Most sources will point to yeast producing more of this enzyme at higher temperatures and when reproducing. Which is then stated as leading to higher esters. The other sources say that while there are higher levels of AAT at higher temps and during cell budding, the budding actually consumes the enzyme, so less escapes from the cells to enable ester creation.

    As far as I can see from reading the summaries in a few studies there's support for both points of view. Though a lot of the overpitching = lower ester studies I see are for high gravity wort and low ester producing yeast. Which would have been where the money was in the 80s as the big commercial breweries tried to wring more profit out of their pale lager processes.

    As I've had no success with lowering temperature and overpitching, next batch I'm trying mid-low temperature range, a slight underpitch and plenty of oxygenation to see if that calms the esters down. It's a few months away at least. Winter and lockdown throwing plans for my next Belgian single up in the air for me.
     
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  6. jay3847

    jay3847 Member

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    What yeast have you been using, Mark?
     
  7. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Wyeast 3787. I may also need to look at some of the other trappist yeasts to see if there's a lower ester one, as I'm guessing yeast strain is the biggest contributor.
     

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