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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Lambic & Wild Brewing > Sour Mash - Wort Isn't Sour
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:34 AM   #1
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Default Sour Mash - Wort Isn't Sour

We just did our first sour mash. We mashed 30% of the total grain bill then dropped it to 127F and stored it. 12 hours later we tasted the mash and there was a nice sourness developing, however the temp had dropped all the way to 102F so we reheated some of the existing mash added some boiling water to bring it to 117F. At this point the mash was 'looser' than we had hoped at about 1.66 qt/lb.

About 28 hours after this temperature adjustment we added the sour mash to the main mash just before lautering. The sour mash had dropped all the way to 92F at this point. The mash smelled fine, but there was some filmy white crap on the top that we skimmed off. We did not taste the sour mash because of the filmy crap. After lautering, boiling, and cooling we tasted the wort. It tasted like normal wort. Just sweet, no sourness.

What could have happened? Is there anything we can do at this point to add sourness without using a yeast strain that will infect our entire operation?

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Old 01-30-2013, 07:54 PM   #2
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Any advice out there? I'm pretty puzzled here and have no experience with sour mashing.

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Old 01-30-2013, 11:09 PM   #3
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We just did our first sour mash. We mashed 30% of the total grain bill then dropped it to 127F and stored it. 12 hours later we tasted the mash and there was a nice sourness developing, however the temp had dropped all the way to 102F so we reheated some of the existing mash added some boiling water to bring it to 117F. At this point the mash was 'looser' than we had hoped at about 1.66 qt/lb.

About 28 hours after this temperature adjustment we added the sour mash to the main mash just before lautering. The sour mash had dropped all the way to 92F at this point. The mash smelled fine, but there was some filmy white crap on the top that we skimmed off. We did not taste the sour mash because of the filmy crap. After lautering, boiling, and cooling we tasted the wort. It tasted like normal wort. Just sweet, no sourness.

What could have happened? Is there anything we can do at this point to add sourness without using a yeast strain that will infect our entire operation?
Did you add some grain to the sour mash before closing it up?
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:06 AM   #4
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Yeah, if you didn't any grain or new bugs, its likely that whatever you had on the grain originally was killed off in the mashing process. Even if some survived, there may not have been enough to sour it sufficiently.

The other option is that the wort is sour, but you just can't taste it because there's so much sugar in the wort already. Let it go ahead and ferment out, then take a taste and see if its sour enough to your liking. Since it sounds like you don't want to introduce any sour bugs in the fermenter, if its not sour enough for you at that point you'd have to add lactic acid to increase the sourness. I had a berliner that wasn't quite sour enough when I was preparing to move, so i had to add a little to get a nice bite. I'm sure its probably not as good as coming from a sour mash, but it will get you there. If you go that route, start with small amounts so you don't go overboard.

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Old 02-01-2013, 03:03 AM   #5
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If you wanted it really sour, you should have soured the whole lot. If you sour only 30%, then dilute it, you get a much less sour brew.

Yes sweetness will mask some of the sour, but the dilution with the rest of the mash will have a big effect.

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Old 02-01-2013, 04:01 PM   #6
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Did you add some grain to the sour mash before closing it up?
Yes, we sprinkled a handful of grain ontop of the mash before laying plastic wrap over the top. We added more dry grain ~12 hours later after boosting the temp with some boiling water.
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:07 PM   #7
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If you wanted it really sour, you should have soured the whole lot. If you sour only 30%, then dilute it, you get a much less sour brew.

Yes sweetness will mask some of the sour, but the dilution with the rest of the mash will have a big effect.
A lot of sour mash procedures I read talked about souring 20% of the total mash for a nice bite. One in particular (from BYO.com) said

"If you sour above 20% of the total grain bill, then you are entering true sour beer territory. Some homebrewers will sour mash upwards of 50% or more of their total grain bill. This quantity is ill-advised for anybody who doesn’t want a true pucker-up beer or anybody that suffers from acid-reflux problems."

That excerpt is from this article. Should we not have made a full 5 gallon batch? Maybe a higher gravity 3 gallon batch would have been better? Also, is it possible that the lactic acid may have gotten stuck in the mash when we lautered the entire thing together?
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:09 PM   #8
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Correct me if I'm wrong but 127 is too hot for Lacto. They are good at 95-105. I imagine they didnt do too well at 127.

In order to make a sour beer you want with a sour mash, you MUST taste it. Sour the whole mash, and taste it every 8 hours. When it tastes how you want it, then boil the wort.

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Old 02-01-2013, 04:22 PM   #9
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Correct me if I'm wrong but 127 is too hot for Lacto. They are good at 95-105. I imagine they didnt do too well at 127.
Actually, they can survive as high as 131 but they thrive between 95-120. From byo.com:

"Thermophilic means heat-loving; L. delbruckii survives at temperatures as high as 131° F and thrives at temperatures between 95 to 120° F....Keep the mash in a sealed container and hold it between 95 and 120° F for two to four days."

We anticipated losing heat so we started high with the understanding that it wouldn't kill the lacto. After 12 hours, we tasted it and it was in fact getting sour. We did not try it after the full 2 days because there was some ugly stuff growing on top.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:53 PM   #10
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Being at a temp that won't kill them is a lot different than being a temp where they will thrive. That vary well is your problem with the lack of sourness. Sure, they didnt die but they weren't able to sour your wort very well.

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