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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Lactobacillus not present?
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:36 PM   #1
Madbyrd
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Default Lactobacillus not present?

So, admittedly this is my first attempt at souring a mash, but I'm worried I may have overlooked some part of the process. I'm just shy of 24 hrs in and the mash smells of a nice warm porridge...no funk, sour or foul smell whatsoever.
I began by dissolving 1lb of Briess golden light DME in 2 quarts water. I brought the temp down to ~127deg F and racked onto 1lb cracked German 2 row in a sanitized 1 gallon plastic water jug. I placed the jug on a heating pad and wrapped the whole thing in a sleeping bag. The temp has steadily declined to around 105deg over the course of about 23 hrs.
What exactly are the optimum conditions for lactobacillus to thrive? Is it possible that the malt was just devoid of bugs, or is it more likely that I accidentally killed them off? Has anyone else ever failed attempting to sour a mash? ( I thought it was supposed to be pretty foolproof - leave it to me to mess it up )

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Old 09-04-2011, 03:10 AM   #2
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Hi Madbyrd,

You aren't mashing anything with extract.

I have never heard of sour "mashing" with extract. As far as I know this can only be done with grain.

Can somebody correct me if I am wrong?

Thanks!

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Old 09-04-2011, 04:36 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tasq View Post
You aren't mashing anything with extract.

I have never heard of sour "mashing" with extract. As far as I know this can only be done with grain.

Can somebody correct me if I am wrong?
He is using grain. He used DME for the wort (same as product of a mash), and added grain.
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Old 09-04-2011, 04:52 AM   #4
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Hey Tasq,
Thanks for the response, you're absolutely right, there is no mashing going on here! I think I've just read up so much on the process that I erroneously applied a generalized name to the procedure
Charlie P. in appendix 6 of the Joy of Homebrewing describes souring an extract batch in a very similar manner to what I had attempted. "Homebrewtastic" also has a recipe on this forum which details souring using pretty much the same quantities/ingredients as I did. I think it was a soured Saison called "Joie de Vivre".
From what I'm reading lactobacillus is relatively hard to kill off. They're anaerobic, so it's not a matter of oxygenation. They've got plenty of sugars from the DME to chew on so it's not a matter of sustenance...and they're well within/below their temperature tolerance, so I'm not cooking them to death. That basically leaves me with two possibilities, either they are non-present and my malt was essentially sterile (really? ...is that even possible?), or the malt was maybe a bit older and a lot of the lacto had died off and is now just taking it's sweet time building up a colony to get it's funk on. I don't know. Any ideas? I'm almost 30 hrs in and it still doesn't smell like it would hurt me if I drank it.

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Old 09-04-2011, 02:47 PM   #5
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I totally missed the part about you adding cracked grain. I guess I need to be more careful when posting after having a few homebrews. My apologies!

Your method seems sound and there is most certainly lacto on that grain. I have never seen this done with dme though. Perhaps the souring process is more long term with this method, since the mash (dme), has already been converted?

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Old 09-04-2011, 06:53 PM   #6
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I always do my sour mashes by mashing a portion of my grain, sparging and giving it a quick boil before inoculating it with fresh grain. So although I am doing it all with grain, I am essentially mashing the same thing you are.

I'm pretty surprised that you have no off smells or sourness. I think at 127F you might have added the wort a little too warm but with a pound of grain it should have cooled off fairly quickly. That's too much grain to not have healthy action. I mean, I've soured half a gallon with about ten grains.

Have you looked at it? Is there any scum on top? Any brown foam? That would be an indication of activity.

My thought is that your wort is too high in sugar so it's taking a very long time for the bacteria to work through it. You might try diluting it with sanitized water. Otherwise, give it another day or two and it should start to smell like rotting creamed corn. Then you'll know lacto is chewing through the sugars.

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Old 09-05-2011, 12:56 AM   #7
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It's hard to smell any signs of latco when doing a sour mash. The stinky smell of the unfermented wort will cover it up. You should be able to taste it, but just barely as the sweetness of the wort will cover up the tartness of the lactic acid - especially since your OG is in the 1.065 range.

The other possibility is that when you threw the grain in the jug that there was enough starsan foam/liquid that you sanitized the grain.

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Old 09-05-2011, 03:46 AM   #8
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Thanks for the advice guys. I'm now at hour 52 and am just beginning to see some activity. Additionally it's beginning to put off a slightly sharper odor than before (you're right Rory, while there is definitely the beginnings of a funk, I'm not smelling the souring at all), so I think the lacto are finally up and running. I'm going to give it another 18 hrs or so and see how it looks then.
ReverseApacheMaster, I'm guessing you were spot on with there being too many sugars in the wort for the lacto to take a quick hold. Have you ever taken an SG reading of the wort you're going to inoculate before adding the cracked malt?
I really do appreciate the help guys. I think I was a little concerned initially as Charlie P. suggested that after 15-24 hrs I should have a finished soured batch. I think next time around I'll definitely try an all grain version, but that probably won't be until next summer

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Old 09-06-2011, 09:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rorygilmore View Post
It's hard to smell any signs of latco when doing a sour mash. The stinky smell of the unfermented wort will cover it up. You should be able to taste it, but just barely as the sweetness of the wort will cover up the tartness of the lactic acid - especially since your OG is in the 1.065 range.

The other possibility is that when you threw the grain in the jug that there was enough starsan foam/liquid that you sanitized the grain.
not a sour mash, you're souring wort - i suspect it doesn't reproduce as quickly is my guess... not sure why it wouldn't tho... plus, every sour mash i've done has a huge lactic smell after 24 hours and i have yet to be able to let one go beyond 72 before it's just too much...
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