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I have recently made a Bavarian Wheat that all my "co-drinkers" liked quite a lot. I have fermented that pretty cold (18C/64F), since I don't like these beers when they are overly estery and tasting to much banana-like. Now I want to use the same malt-bill and turn it into a Belgian Wit just for kicks. I was going to use White Labs WLP400 (Belgian Wit) for it. Which fermentation temperature would you use for that in comparison to the Bavarian Wheat?

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According to Zainasheff in "Brewing Classic Styles" (for Belgian Wit):

Begin fermentation at 68F (20C) slowly raising the temperature to 72F (22C) by the last third of fermentation.

I'm guessing that part of that is to clean up diacetyl and the like. Most of the yeast flavor happens in the first 72 hours of fermentation. That's quite a bit warmer than what he recommends for the German wheat beers, but that also makes sense, Belgian beers having a bit more "funk" than Germans.

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It's just to make sure fermentation completes. There should be no diacetyl considering the yeast and starting temp. – Denny Conn Jan 8 '11 at 15:57

The Belgian Wit Ale yeast is a low producer of phenols but fermentation temperatures on the higher end of the yeasts range will produce more of the spicy phenol characteristics. I made a wit about a month ago and fermented at about 66 and the yeast character turned out relatively low compared to the spice and orange peel I added. I would stay around 66-68 for a good fermentation. Actually when using Hefeweizen yeast the lower the fermentation temp the more fruity esters you will produce. The banana character increases as the temperature increases along with the spice phenols.

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Can you clarify the last two sentences - they seem to be at odds with each other. I thought that "fruity esters" was synonymous with "banana character". – Herb Jan 7 '11 at 21:54
Here is a better illustration of how fermentation temp affect wiezen yeast: 62F-high fruit, low banana, low/no spice, 65F mod fruit, mod banana, mod spice, 68F mod fruit, mod banana, mod high spice, 72F low fruit, high banana, very high spice. – Northern Brewer Chris Jan 7 '11 at 22:15
I always put the "banana" in the "fruity ester" regime. That does not seem to be true then, eh? – Tobi Jan 8 '11 at 20:58
The banana I believe is an ester but is produced at different temperatures. – Northern Brewer Chris Jan 10 '11 at 16:24
Great comment Chris! I've always tacked "banana" and "clove" on Hefe flavors, but you are totally right, there is a difference in "fruit" and "banana". Actually now that I think about it, I get a "Juicy Fruit Gum" kind of flavor sometimes, and I think that's the "fruit" that you are referring to. – Graham Mar 23 '11 at 20:58

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