It's a beer world after all!
Let's check out a couple of key terms in brewing that are important to know. Technically,
Secondary Fermentation  refers to any phase of fermentation following the very active
“primary” fermentation, but before complete removal of the yeast.

In lager beers, secondary fermentation can refer to the period of maturation and lagering,
during which important flavor changes occur, particularly reabsorption of diacetyl by yeast.
In traditional German lager brewing, the term can also refer to the krausening process, where actively
fermenting wort is added to beer that has finished its primary fermentation. This
addition restarts fermentation in the combined batch, reducing diacetyl and, if the reactivated
fermentation is in a closed tank, building natural carbonation.

In Britain, secondary fermentation refers to an important part of the traditional ale-brewing
process whereby condition (dissolved carbon dioxide) is built up as residual sugar and is slowly taken up
by the yeast. This gives sparkle and mouthfeel to the finished beer. Secondary fermentation may also
remove unwanted flavor compounds, such as sulfurous character in the
beer, giving it a “cleaner,” more pleasant palate. Secondary fermentation can take place in the brewery in
conditioning tanks or in casks. Secondary fermentation in conditioning tanks can be prompted by the
addition of wort or sugar solution to the tank.

Amateur brewers often use the term “secondary fermentation” to refer to an aging period
after the primary fermentation; this usually involves transferring the young beer to another fermentation
vessel to remove it from dormant yeast.


Belgian Tripel was first commercialized by Hendrik Verlinden at the secular De Drie Linden brewery in
Braaschat, Belgium in 1932? Trademarked as “Witkap Pater = Trappistenbier” (Witkap Pater = Trappist
Beer), which was the first legal use of the name “Trappist” as a trademark, it is a strong, golden ale.

The Westmalle Trappist Abbey followed in 1934 with their Superbier that was modified by Brother
Thomas and renamed “Tripel” in 1956. It is one of the most popular beer styles in Belgium and there
are hundreds of versions brewed worldwide.

The term “tripel” refers to the amount of malt with fermentable sugars and the original gravity of the wort
prior to fermentation. One theory of the origin is that it follows a medieval tradition where crosses were
used to mark casks: a single X for the weakest beer, XX for a medium-strength beer, and XXX for the
strongest beer. Three X’s would then be synonymous with the name “tripel.” In the days when most
people were illiterate, this assured drinkers that they were getting the beer they asked for.

Tripel beers are traditionally brewed using soft water and approximately 80% pilsner malt for sweetness
supplemented with fermentable sugar to lighten the perception of body. Hopping is done in multiple
additions using classical aroma varieties such as Saaz, Tettnang, Spalt, and Styrian Golding, with
flowers being preferred to pellets or extracts. Primary fermentation is done at relatively warm
temperatures using Belgian ale yeast and is usually followed by a cool maturation of 2 to 4 weeks.

The best tripels have 8%–10% ABV and a gold to light amber color. They are dry on the palate, well-
attenuated and generously hopped using aroma varieties. Tripels should show dense and mousse-like
foam, bright burnished golden color, and complex spicy, floral, orange, banana, and citrus notes. Flavors
are fruity with alcohol and slight maltiness and are supplemented by hop flavor bitterness and spicy
yeastiness. The body is medium because of high carbonation, attenuation, and hop bitterness. Despite
the high alcohol content, a good tripel remains almost dangerously drinkable.


Hope you found this month's column of interest.  If you have any questions about beer or brewing or just
want to submit a word for me to discuss here just
e-mail it to me.

Thanks and Cheers!
Beer Words To Learn - Seconday Fermentation //  Belgium Tripel
A new column by
Jack O'Reilly
Jack O'Reilly attended the
Siebel Institute/ World
Brewing Academy
I'm very excited to be part of the BeerNexus team.  I think my many years in the beer business
both as a brewer and manger will enable me to explain and investigate many topics of interest
for those who really love craft beer. Hope you join me every month.  
More by Jack: #1, #2