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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Sour mash smells like vinegar!
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:25 PM   #1
devilishprune
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Default Sour mash smells like vinegar!

I need help now! The sparge water is heating as I type this.

I made a sour mash on Thursday evening and opened up the cooler for the first time today. I have no idea what it's supposed to smell like, but it smells and tastes vinegary, which makes me think acetobacter. It was also room temperature when I got to it.

Should I continue on with the brew or make something else? I need help now guys!

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Old 09-18-2010, 01:54 PM   #2
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I found this on BYO...
Acetobacter needs oxygen and will only grow on the top of the mash. If you seal the top of the mash by laying some plastic wrap across the top, pushing all the air bubbles out in the process then you can greatly decrease the opportunity for Acetobacter to act. Clostridium on the other hand produces butyric acid, which is a foul-smelling acid, faintly resembling my freshman year dorm, a mixture of rank locker room smell mixed with vomit. If Clostridium takes hold in the mashing vessel, it is rather apparent right away and make sure to keep away from significant others if you enjoy their company. I would advise dumping the mash if Clostridium takes hold. But some people seem to be okay adding this rank concoction to their beer stating that the odor can be boiled away. In general, a foul-smelling mash is going to yield a foul-smelling beer.

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Old 09-18-2010, 01:58 PM   #3
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I think you're fine...Then again I have no experience with sour mashes.

I do know that when you boil...it will scrub out majority of the funk.

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Old 09-18-2010, 02:21 PM   #4
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I read that article before I proceeded in the first place, and I actually did seal the top with plastic wrap (though it was probably not a very good job, because I am incompetent when it comes to using plastic wrap). I went ahead and continued with it, and I hope that some of the stank will boil off.

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Old 09-18-2010, 02:36 PM   #5
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Here's my theory....Relax and don't worry. I've found that majority of the cases posted on here of "potential problems" turns out alright

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Old 09-18-2010, 02:47 PM   #6
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You know what? I think I really just needed some reassurance. I need to take my own advice as well as everyone elses. However, it's a little early for me to have a homebrew.

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Old 09-18-2010, 03:10 PM   #7
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I thought Acetobactor required a substrate containing alcohol to propogate? Isn't it more of a threat in an actual beer than a mash? Isn't it possible that a sour mash (considering it is acidic) could have a vinegarish smell?

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Old 09-18-2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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I suppose it's always possible. I've read many sources saying that it converts ethanol to acetic acid, and I found this paper that says that it can only utilize dextrose and not maltose as a carbon source, so is there a small amount of dextrose present in the mash?

Some strain called T. versutus is able to use maltose, but I can't find any info about that one.

Maybe some bacterium other than acetobacter makes vinegar-ish smells?

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Old 09-18-2010, 05:38 PM   #9
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Just to update on this, I continued with the brew as usual and ended up with 2.5 gallons of a lightly soured kentucky common. I'll post the results in a few weeks after I get it kegged up.

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Old 10-12-2010, 03:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilishprune View Post
Just to update on this, I continued with the brew as usual and ended up with 2.5 gallons of a lightly soured kentucky common. I'll post the results in a few weeks after I get it kegged up.
Any update? I'm thinking of doing a sour-mash brew soon.

Schlante,
Phillip
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