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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Sour Mash Ale
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:13 PM   #1
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Default Sour Mash Ale

I ran across an article on Kentucky Common Ale (a lost pre-prohibition act style), and decided to give one a shot. Unfortuntly, I can't seem to get fermentation started. Since its a sour mash ale, i thought I'd ask the wild brewing forum for advice. Here's what I'd done so far:

Recipe was basically a medium body brown ale with some flaked maize added to the mash.

A recipie I fund suggested mashing at 153, lowering to 120, and letting the mash sit for 36 hours. Since I wanted to create something repatable, I didnt want to rely on the natural lacto in the grain. So instead, I used the following procedure.

I infusion mashedat 153 for 60 minutes. I then proceeded to mash out to 173, hoping to kill off some of the natual bacteria. I then used an imerssion chiller to lower the temp to 120, and pitched a Wyeast Lacto pack into the mash. Covered with plastics, closed up the cooler tun, and let sit in my utility room for 36 hours.

36 hours later, I sarged as normal, boiled, and moved to a carboy. I pitched WLP001 when cool, and after nothing happend, pitched safale Us-5on top. Still nothing happening.

Is it possible that there is so much lactic acid in the wort after 36 hours, that its killing off the yeast?

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Old 01-14-2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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Yes. It is very possible that the ph wont let the yeast get going. You could try to make a decent sized starter and then dump that entire thing in once fementation has taken off.

Its much harder to start fermentation in bad conditions... this way the yeast is already going crazy and there might be enough momentum to carry fermentation through.

I will say that if the beer is sour enough to prevent the yeast from doing anything it might be over soured... have you tasted it?

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Old 01-14-2013, 07:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by elleric View Post
Yes. It is very possible that the ph wont let the yeast get going. You could try to make a decent sized starter and then dump that entire thing in once fementation has taken off.

Its much harder to start fermentation in bad conditions... this way the yeast is already going crazy and there might be enough momentum to carry fermentation through.

I will say that if the beer is sour enough to prevent the yeast from doing anything it might be over soured... have you tasted it?
I have. Its pretty sour. I wouldn't say off the charts, but more than I was hoping. I think I'm going to rebrew a little differently. I'll mash 20% of the grain in a small container, add some yogurt, and sour just that portion. Then I'll mash the other 80%, combine the two, and sparge as normal. I'll pitch with a starter. Hopefully this keeps the lacto down far enough to not prevent the yeast from taking off.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:10 PM   #4
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Instead of adding yogurt, just add a little grain back into the wort.

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Old 01-15-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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I have had a similar issues to yours.

First if that wort is still salavagable just brew another beer (dont sour it) and blend it out. Now you'll have ten gallons of Kentucky Common!

Second, when doing a sour mash you need to make a starter for the yeast. I learned this the hard way. My first sour mash I did the same as you, where I pitched my yeast onto the soured beer, and there was very little noticable fermentation. Ever since then I have made a starter for my sour mashed beers and have not had a single problem. The bigger the better. I usually do 1 - 2L per 5 gallons. This works with both ales and lagers (sour maibock, anyone?).

Third, I wouldnt use yogurt, the lactobacillus strain is different and probably wont give you the sour your looking for in a beer. But dont let me stifle your creativiity.

Fourth, if you are going to mash out you might as well go all the way and sparge before you sour as well. Then take that sweet wort and sour it in a fermentor. This will prevent any oxygen from reaching the wort as lacto is strictly anearobic. If there is an abundance of oxygen you risk enterobactor or some other equally as grosss bacterial infection. Once souring is complete, if you dont want the beer to get more sour, you can do a boil like you would normally after you sparge.

Finally, did you take gravity readings to see if the yeast was doing anything? It may have not been noticeable.

Good luck! I find sour mashed beers an excellent way to get a nice sour beer in the same amount of time it takes to brew a non-sour ale. The complexity might not be as deep as pedio, brett, lacto beer but when you compare 1 month to 1+ years to drinking time you cant lose with a sour mash!

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Old 01-15-2013, 02:20 PM   #6
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Look on the bright side - as far as I can tell, no one has ever brewed a good Kentucky Common, so you're not missing out on much. I love sour mash Berliner Weisse and had a passing infatuation with Kentucky Common. From all the blog and forum posts I read, I came to the conclusion it's not a historical style and don't recall any great homebrew attempts.

I think if you brew a Berliner Weisse with what you've learned from this attempt and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Old 01-16-2013, 02:56 PM   #7
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This thread inspired me yesterday to brew a Kentucky Common. After work I went out, bought some ingredients, and going to see what I can make happen.

Here is my recipe, at this point the ingredients are bought and I am brewing it as is but critics are welcome as with any beer style I havent brewed before it is near impossible to create a "perfect" beer the first time.

40%, 4lbs Pilsner Malt (I have a sack currently)
20%, 2lbs 6-row
20%, 2lbs Flaked Maize
10%, 1lb Rye
7%, .75lb Crystal 20L
3%, .25lb Pale Chocolate (250L)

1oz Vanguard, FWH
1oz Vanguard, Flame out

Mash at 156F until full conversion. Collect wort, cool to 110F and pitch WLP677 and let sour for 48 hours. After 48 hours, boil soured wort 60min and hop as scheduled, cool and pitch WLP001.

I like a littel residual sweetness and body to help cut the sourness which is why I have the high mash temp. I wasnt sure on what crystal malt to go with; I didnt want to overpower the corn sweetness from the maize, rather I wanted the crystal to compliment it. Thoughts?

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Old 01-16-2013, 02:58 PM   #8
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I made one, but rather than souring the entire mash I added a portion of soured mash to the kettle. I did this because rather than using the sour to adjust ph of the water, I wanted it for flavor.

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Old 01-18-2013, 10:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bb239605 View Post
This thread inspired me yesterday to brew a Kentucky Common. After work I went out, bought some ingredients, and going to see what I can make happen.

Here is my recipe, at this point the ingredients are bought and I am brewing it as is but critics are welcome as with any beer style I havent brewed before it is near impossible to create a "perfect" beer the first time.

40%, 4lbs Pilsner Malt (I have a sack currently)
20%, 2lbs 6-row
20%, 2lbs Flaked Maize
10%, 1lb Rye
7%, .75lb Crystal 20L
3%, .25lb Pale Chocolate (250L)

1oz Vanguard, FWH
1oz Vanguard, Flame out

Mash at 156F until full conversion. Collect wort, cool to 110F and pitch WLP677 and let sour for 48 hours. After 48 hours, boil soured wort 60min and hop as scheduled, cool and pitch WLP001.

I like a littel residual sweetness and body to help cut the sourness which is why I have the high mash temp. I wasnt sure on what crystal malt to go with; I didnt want to overpower the corn sweetness from the maize, rather I wanted the crystal to compliment it. Thoughts?
Look forwad to seeing how this worked out. I don't think my batch is moving much, and believe it would be too sour. I've envisioned this more like a little sour (like a Berliner Weiss) than as a fully sour beer. Going to try souring just 20% with the lacto in th grain, add it back to the mash, sparge, and see how that turns out. But like your thnking above. Let me know how it goes.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:51 PM   #10
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This is a pet peeve of mine but I can't believe that a Kentucky Common was ever soured.

In all likelihood, the "sour mash" comes from confusion with the Sour Mash bourbons that come out of Kentucky.

In this sense, a sour mash is simply a yeast starter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour_mash

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