Batch 4: Belgian Wit (or Dunkel?)

I couldn’t easily get the last batch to ferment below the low 70s, so I figured for this batch I’d brew something where the esters of a hot ferment might be in-style. I chose the Belgian Wit style, as it seems straight-forward, gets a bit fancy with adjuncts (coriander and orange peel) and fits the bill of warm fermentation. After sifting through numerous recipes from various resources (,, and a couple of others), and taking into account what’s available at my LHBS ( I settled on this recipe:

6.6# Wheat LME (I ended up using Briess Bavarian Wheat LME)
1# Flaked Wheat (steeped between 150 and 160 for 30 min)
1 oz Tettnang (60 min boil)
0.5 oz US Goldings (10 min boil)
0.5 oz crushed coriander (10 min boil)
0.5 oz bitter orange peel (10 min boil)
whirlfloc (10 min boil)
WLP400 (White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast)

OG: 1.054, SRM: 18 (guesstimate), yeast pitched at 80 degrees, 2 hours later the wort was ~76 degrees, 8 hours later the wort was at ~73 degrees, still no krausen. The wort was Much darker than I had anticipated. According to the calculations ( beer calculus), the SRM should be around 8. The Briess Bavarian Wheat LME has barley in it, and it looked a few shades darker than I had expected, hence the SRM difference. I put the fermenter in a large tupperware tub, put a 5-gauge tube on the end of the airlock and fed that into a bucket of sanitizer (blow-off, recommended by many who’ve seen very vigorous fermentation with WLP400), and then half-filled the tub with water. I’m going to put a frozen water bottle in the tub every morning to keep the fermentation temp down. The optimal temp range given by White Labs tops at 74 degrees. Overnight, the fermenter held around 73 degrees, and today with an ice pack in the water, it came down to around 71.

UPDATE 5/31/12: the Krausen rose on Monday morning, and started flowing through the blow-off tube Monday night. It’s been fermenting strong for 3-4 days now, and the Krausen hasn’t fallen yet!! I’m going to wait for the Krausen to fall and then take a gravity reading just to see where we’re at. Most of the reviews for WLP400 talk about vigorous (lotsa krausen) but slow (slow to attentuate) fermentation, so we’ll see how it’s going. The temperature has held steady around 71-72, with the help of a water bath covering 1/2 of the fermenter, and temperature held by putting a frozen bottle of water in the tub every morning. It’s gotten into the 90s outside the past few days, and while we have air conditioning in the house, the thermostat is set pretty high (close to 80), so the water bath and ice will help keep the temperature below 74 (high end of the stated optimal range for WLP400). Reviews also noted really really stinky Krausen, which seems to be the case. Thankfully, I put the end of the blow-off tube in a bucket of sanitizer, so I think most of the stink is being filtered through the water. Gotta keep that in mind next time.

UPDATE 6/10/12: It was a hot day today. I moved the carboy into the garage last night to give it a day to rest before I bottled, but it reached the 90s in there, so I set up a swamp cooler, and that kept the fermentation below 75 degrees. I racked onto 1/2 cup of priming sugar and bottled. I forgot to measure gravity before racking, but the gravity after racking was still 1.015, so I am pretty sure I got reasonable attenuation. Even warm, the brew tasted quite nice, and I am very eager to enjoy the conditioned ale!