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Some beers claim to be triple fermented, meaning that after primary fermentation, more fermentables are added at the start of secondary, and then the brew is bottle-conditioned, resulting in three separate additions of sugars.

I've read somewhere that yeast is added for secondary.

  • How much is added during secondary? Is it a major fermentable addition, or just one or two gravity points' worth, like what is added for bottle conditioning?
  • Is yeast repitched as well?
  • If the second addition is significant, what are its effects?
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not sure about anything specific, but Belgian Tripel's are one of my favorites :D –  STW Dec 11 '10 at 1:04
    
BTW, this reminds me of the Miller Lite marketing campaign 'triple hops brewed'. Marketing. I hope I'm wrong. –  thebeav Dec 11 '10 at 3:23
    
that's exactly what i thought when the distributor's rep in the grocery store said it. and even more so when he admitted he had no idea what it meant. –  Brandon Dec 11 '10 at 3:36
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5 Answers

Some yeasts will give you a very potent product - up to 14% alcohol - but you do not get a particularly pleasant flavor if you use them.

If you try to brew from the start using potent yeast, the beer does not taste like anything you would meet normally - it has a musty odor and taste. That is why more than one yeast is used (sometimes they stop at two and call the beer a doppel).

If you first brew with a beer yeast until the gas coming off is fading, then add a stronger lager yeast and leave that until the gas coming off is fading, then add a wine yeast, give it a couple of days, filter and bottle it - you get to the "Tripel" concept that the Belgians love - a beer that tastes acceptable with a kick like a mule".

Of course, that final filtration must not filter out all the yeast, just the lumpy stuff ... You need a little yeast left in to condition the beer, or it will be flat.

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That's not at all what a Belgian Tripel is, and wine yeast won't eat the more complex sugars that remain during the end of fermentation. That would only work if you were adding simple sugars at the same time you added the wine yeast. –  baka Apr 9 '11 at 11:41
    
The yeast you start with is not dead - you are using a mix of yeasts that work together slowly to get the end result. You cannot generalize and say it will not work - it works for me. Tell us what works for you, baka. –  Charlotte Farley Apr 9 '11 at 12:07
    
Wine yeast can't eat maltotriose. If you're adding them late in the fermentation, then the beer yeast have already consumed the simpler sugars. I suppose it would also work if you add some enzymes, but you'll wind up with very little body to your beer, since you won't be able to denature them with heat. thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Sunday-Session/… –  baka Apr 9 '11 at 12:23
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The double and tripel names are based on the strength of the wort, not the number of yeast strains in the beer. –  baka Apr 9 '11 at 12:24
    
Yeasts can adapt. So you put a wine yeast into a medium it does not like, most of the yeast dies. Leave that brew alone and a fermentation will eventually start - it can take a couple of weeks. Once you have a successful brew, you keep back a bottle or two and use the lees from that bottle in the next batch. Again, it will start slowly -but it will go eventually. I give the only explanation of why more than one yeast is used and all you guys do is grumble. You just lost me ... –  Charlotte Farley Apr 9 '11 at 12:57
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I think fruit beers are a great example of triple fermented beers, usually wheat, but adding the fruit to the secondary allows for a more gentle fermentation of the fruit leaving behind more of the fruit flavor. This is very common in lambics and heffeweizens.

As far as the beer you saw, I wonder if they just added honey or something, I don't know that this would change the flavor much, although it would keep the OG lower allowing the yeast to do it's job a little easier.

I do however completely understand now (having done this wrong before) why you would add the fruit after initial fermentation to preserve more of the fruit flavor in the beer.

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Over on Homebrewtalk the opinion seems to be that it's a beer that has had fermentables added to it twice after the initial brewing.

It's fermented once, moved to a secondary where a new fermentable is added & perhaps some different yeast. That's the second fermentation. Then more fermentables are added and it's bottled. The bottle conditioning is the third fermentation.

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Googling on the phrase "triple fermented" turns up a few interesting links. Marc Stroobandt is pretty clear in stating that "triple fermentation" requires 3 additions of unique yeast strains. Other folks don't seem to care about the number of yeast strains, just how many times fermentables were added. It doesn't seem to be a very clearly defined term. –  Hopwise Dec 11 '10 at 23:41
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From my understanding, a few Belgian beers use a second yeast strain during bottle conditioning. This is to impart a different and unique flavor to the final beer. In that case, that would be 'double fermentation'. I've never noticed a 'triple fermented' beer.

But I imagine that you have two choices when 'triple fermenting'.

One is to add a fresh batch of the same strain of yeast in at secondary. The advantage of this is that a freshly made batch of yeast would be very active and could drop the FG a few more points than the original yeast could. This would yield a dryer and more alcoholic final beer.

The second option is to add another strain of yeast at secondary. This would of course change the flavor profile. And potential affect the final gravity.

If the second option is taken and it is the same yeast as bottle conditioning, then you get no real benefit in my mind.

If the second option is taken and a third strain is added at bottle conditioning, then you might get something unique.

If the first option is taken you could at least get more alcohol, if that is your aim.

All in all, it sounds like a lot of work and cost for no real benefit.

The flip side to this argument is that I've had a lot of really good Belgian beers, so they probably know what they are doing. =)

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According to "Brew Like A Monk" by Stan Heironymous, Belgian brewers rarely (but not never) use more than a single yeast strain. He says that they have so much of the primary yeast around that it doesn't make sense to go out of their way to use another. –  Denny Conn Dec 11 '10 at 3:32
    
Yeah, I agree with Denny. And a second addition of the same strain would be like throwing a match into a forest fire. The amount of yeast in a pitch is orders of magnitude less than the amount of healthy yeast at the end of fermentation. –  Brandon Dec 11 '10 at 3:39
    
I know of two Belgian beers that use a second strain at bottling. That to me qualifies as a 'few'. –  thebeav Dec 11 '10 at 19:36
    
I'm not saying that adding the same strain twice makes any sense. It is just a possibility. –  thebeav Dec 11 '10 at 19:37
    
Voted up - I thought this was a useful comment - not sure why it was voted down in the first place. It seems like it might be possible to impart a unique flavor into the beer by pitching a new strain in the secondary fermenter... if you racked carefully, making sure to leave most of the yeast from the primary. I have no idea how well it might work - but would be fun to try. –  leftend Dec 16 '10 at 20:42
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What are the effects? Pretty much none, really.

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I'd be curious to know why people disagree with me. If you post a negative vote, please explain. –  Denny Conn Dec 11 '10 at 18:37
    
Everything you do in brewing has an effect. You're dealing with living organisms. If you feed them sugar after they stop fermenting, they ferment the sugar you feed them plus sugars that they missed during the first round. There will most certainly be an effect. –  Brandon Dec 13 '10 at 19:01
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