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DisturbdChemist 02-02-2012 04:58 PM

Question on souring?
This will be my first sour attempt. I had a bunch over last weekend and loved everyone of them. I'm debating on either doing natural souring which takes a while. plus i dont think i have all the equipment for it yet. or just adding the right amount of Lactic acid at bottling for the first time until i get be a more experienced brewer. I'm thinking of souring a modification of Edworts haus pale ale. Eventually doing a natural souring once i read up and understand what i have to do.

any thoughts?

binkman 02-02-2012 06:24 PM

If you don't want to go the full monty and inoculate your beer with some critters to sour it up along with the yeast, or after primary fermentation, which, like you say, can take a while, you might consider souring the wort.

Reserve a small portion of your wort, like maybe a liter from your 5 gallon batch for instance, and pitch it with lactobacillus (throw in a few pieces of un-mashed grain, a natural place for lactobacillus to hide out) in a separate container at the same time that you pitch yeast in the main batch. Let the liter of lacto-inoculated wort sour for 12-24 hours, then pasteurize it by bringing to boil again, cool it to room temperature, and pitch it into the main batch.

This way, you get real lactic souring without having to worry about it after primary fermentation. The overall pH of your beer wont be so strong as to disrupt primary fermentation, especially once it gets rolling in the first place.

Another even easier way to get the sourness in there is to use a small proportion of acidulated malt, which is already sour from the get-go.

If you are doing an all-grain batch you can let the mash go sour. Because lactobacillus is commonly found on grain, and mashing temperatures are typically not high enough to kill the organism (hence the need for a boil), you can let the mash sit for longer than the mash time. Once mash temp drops below about 120F these critters will start souring the whole batch. I've never done it, and don't recommend it. It would be hard to control the sourness of the final product without some experience. This is the process that some American whiskey makers refer to when their call their whiskey 'sour-mash', where traditionally the beer was fermented right on the grain, the wort never being separated from the mash. Naturally, their beer was sour, but the distillation process left the sourness behind.

You can find some good information in this book, but you can probably find just as much by searching the forums.

Good luck!

DisturbdChemist 02-02-2012 06:42 PM

I dont feel comfortable to go the full monty yet but i'm sure ill get there in the future. Does the wort separated from the main batch has to be at a high temperature for the lactobacillus to grow and sour? like 90-100F. To be clear, your saying just have like a small handful of uncrushed malt to the separated wort and let it sour until the sourness you want? Will the sourness dilute once poured into the 5gals or is it like a concentrated form of lactic acid. I'll like to do it your way you discribed because i havent heard that way and its kinda cheating if you just pouring concentrated lactic acid you can buy at the LHBS.

ReverseApacheMaster 02-02-2012 06:57 PM

Some breweries add lactic acid at bottling so you definitely wouldn't be the first to do it.

I am also a fan of the sour wort process, although I typically do it pre-boil and add the soured portion to the boil. Doing it this way you can only go so far with souring because you can reach a point where the ph is low enough it starts to negatively affect fermentation. (Less of an issue with an all brett fermentation.) If you want to seriously sour the beer with a sour wort process you definitely need to do it in the manner binkman described so the majority of fermentation can be complete before adding the soured portion.

DisturbdChemist 02-02-2012 09:56 PM

So does the wort with the unmilled grain has to be at a certain temperature for those two days?

ReverseApacheMaster 02-02-2012 10:32 PM


Originally Posted by DisturbdChemist (Post 3736510)
So does the wort with the unmilled grain has to be at a certain temperature for those two days?

If you can keep it between 90-110F it's going to sour faster. If you leave it at ambient temperatures you will want to give it more time to sour because the bacteria will work slower at a lower temperature. At a minimum try to keep it warmer the first day or so to make sure the right bacteria takes off a crowds out the rest. The others may produce less desirable flavors.

DisturbdChemist 02-02-2012 11:51 PM

Do you know how I can keep that warm? Maybe a crockpot or on the stove at the lowerest setting, or on the stop in pot of warm water? I want to get this right and not mess up a good batch of beer

Calder 02-03-2012 12:23 AM

To be honest, I think the easiest way is to do it properly.

Brew a basic beer, nothing too special, with low IBUs (about 10).

Ferment for a week with any ale yeast.

Have a party with few sour beers.

Rack beer to a glass carboy pour in the dregs from the sours, put on an airlock and leave for about a year.

Look thru some threads for some recipes if you want to try and copy a particular style.

DisturbdChemist 02-03-2012 01:47 AM

By dregs you mean the yeast in the bottle of the bottle? I have a few sours but I think only one has yeast in the bottom. I need to get extra equipment before I can attempt them. Ill want to do one regular but just do not know all I need to do. You said just don't touch it for a year with the bacteria

WolvinMaine 02-03-2012 02:07 AM

I did a small sour mash for a stout, and I think it worked out well. I did it in a 1 gallon insulated jug, then boiled it and added it to the beer as it was in primary. However, I will warn you, it stinks, so boil it outside. It also just adds a hint of sour, not the real bracing sour bite of a good lambic or flemish red. I have not done a full batch sour mash, and I would think it would stink to high heaven, but I have read about sparging into a keg, and souring under gas so you don't get the 02, and thus not as much dirty diaper smell, in the process. If you are interested, how I did the sour mash is outlined in this post.


That being said, I agree with Calder it is easier to do the traditional way, it just takes more time. I did make a beer that soured very quickly using Jolly Pumpkin dregs in the primary. It got plenty sour fast, 3 months. You can mash on the cool side to get a very fermentable wort, which will let you bottle it faster, but it won't be quite as sour. A few days before, pour some JP dregs into a starter, let it sit for a few days, then crash it out, and add that with your primary yeast to the wort. Jolly Pumpkin dregs are a great way to get a good sour beer pretty quickly.

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