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Old 05-05-2013, 05:41 PM   #1
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Default Pitching with sourdough starter experiment

Note: I found and read this thread today before posting this. For whatever reason, it didn't show up when I searched before starting this experiment.

98 days ago (1/27/2013) I brewed a beer and pitched my sourdough starter instead of a conventional brewing yeast. I'm posting now because I just bottled four bottles. I'll continue to bottle a few every month or so.

The recipe is about as simple as they get:
3 Gallon Batch
5½ lbs 2 row
½ oz cascade @ 30min
Mash @ 154F for 75 min
OG: 1.060 IBU: 18 IBU/OG: 0.3
I pitched 150ml (5floz/5.5oz) of active sourdough starter which I'd been growing for about 4 months. It was grown from the Culutres for Health New England Sourdough Starter, which makes a tasty, but only very slightly sour bread. In retrospect, this was probably underpitching by quite a lot, but it did begin fermenting pretty quickly, if not as vigorously as a usual pitch of ale yeast.

The bottles I filled today have a single Cooper's carb tab in each. The FG is 1.004, yielding an ABV of 7.4% The beer tastes sightly sour, with no sweetness to speak of. It has no objectionable or spoiled flavor. It's hard to determine the pH since I don't have a meter. I have the test strips for both beer and wine and they both show the pH at the lower and upper limits, respectively, making the pH probably about 4.4.

I'll report back as this experiment continues.
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:10 PM   #2
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Interesting experiment. Post back when it's carbed and ready to drink. I'm curious to see how this works out.

I've always been curious to try the opposite route: take a lambic beer, or something similar, and make bread using the dregs as a starter. Haven't gotten around to it yet, though.

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Old 05-06-2013, 05:31 PM   #3
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If the beer actually tastes sour, I'd wager it's lower than a pH of 4.4. That's a normal finishing pH for a non-sour beer. Did you add a lot of acid to your mash to get the pH down initially?

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Old 05-06-2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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After reading about a 100% Lacto Berliner-Wiese I went out and looked up some "pickling" cultures.. Some of them had more than one strain Lacto and I assume you could to the same thing with one of those...

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Old 05-06-2013, 08:53 PM   #5
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I've read that the wild lacto is not the same as what is normally used in beer. Indigo Imp in Cleveland does 'open fermentation' and their beer is down right nasty to my pallet. A lot will come down to how quickly and completely the yeast did their work and what was left for the lacto to continue on.

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Old 05-07-2013, 12:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
If the beer actually tastes sour, I'd wager it's lower than a pH of 4.4. That's a normal finishing pH for a non-sour beer. Did you add a lot of acid to your mash to get the pH down initially?
I think part of why it tastes a little sour is that there's no longer any noticeable sweetness, which is why I decided to bottle a few. Three weeks ago there was still some sweetness, and the pH reading was the same (if this was a "normal" ale, I'd expect a high residual sweetness with such low hopping). The pH is part estimate, part guess. As I said, the reading on both strips were at the limits, which is where the accuracy gets poor anyway.

I didn't do any pH adjustment (or testing) to the mash.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:25 PM   #7
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Tasting!
Poured with a nice creamy head that sustained through the whole glass and left some lacing (Coopers carb drops I used do not contain a heading agent - other brands do). Tastes good! Little bit of a "Belgian" flavor, but not "barn yard-y." The sourness is slight. There is a little sweetness, which I didn't taste when I tasted my testing sample two weeks ago, but it's not cloying. There is s slightly bready aroma. No hop aroma t speak of, but wasn't really expecting any with the hop schedule I chose. Cloudiness in the pic below is just chill haze (beer in the room temperature bottles is clear). I'll bottle a few more next weekend or the week after and keep reporting.

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Stop using so much caramel malt. Your beer will thank you.
(yes, Carapils is a caramel malt...so is Special B)

FERMENTING

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pujwI HIq Mild Ale
KPA Khitomer Pale Ale

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Old 05-20-2013, 02:11 AM   #8
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Awesome expirement. I'm definitely interested in the further tasting results.

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Bottled - The Land of Pils and Honey, an imperial Saison with Clover Honey; a sour mashed Berliner Weisse; Cascade Pale Ale; Hop Wine - an Imperial India Pilsner Ale; Guajillo Ancho Brown Ale; Back To School Porter, an Imperial Robust Porter with vanilla beans added
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Old 06-03-2013, 11:11 PM   #9
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Day 127, roughly 1 month after the first bottling. I took the t-shirt off the carboy and there is now a pelicle! SG is 1.003, pH is about 4.0. Sample tastes a bit more sour, but decided not to bottle any more this week. I'll check again in 2-4 weeks. Again, beer does not taste "spoiled."

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Stop using so much caramel malt. Your beer will thank you.
(yes, Carapils is a caramel malt...so is Special B)

FERMENTING

BOTTLED
pujwI HIq Mild Ale
KPA Khitomer Pale Ale

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Old 06-04-2013, 12:19 AM   #10
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Interesting stuff. I imagine the sourness will continue to slowly rise, but I could be wrong. Keep the updates coming. I'd love to see how this continues to change over the next few months.

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