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EamusCatuli

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I have been a single-step, batch sparge AG'er for a while now, but im not very impressed with the way my grain bill's are coming out in the final product. I feel that I might need to step-up my brewing process and move on to more complex mashing to create better brews. Is there anything I can do that I can use next brew day without spending tons of $$$?
 

jds

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How about exploring some different grains or styles? A big belgian, maybe?
How about different mash techniques -- reiterated mashing or sour mashing?
Step infusions?
Decoctions?
Build a single-tier HERMS with full mash temp control? (well, not without the tons of $$$ part)
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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I saw Rut, I saw jds, and I Imediately thought SOUR MASH!

Give it a go!
Haha, never read much into Sour mashing, what am I expecting to look at?

I have done decoc's before, but those are mostly for belgians only right? My decoc belgian wit was delicious btw.

I was tossing the idea of step-infusions and maybe moving up to fly-sparging.....
 
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Here is what I did:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/sour-peach-beer-76710/
I will say that it is EXTRA sour, and I'm not really into the peach like I thought I'd be. I'd go with jds sour stout for an intro to sour.
I will try this again with a very basic amber ale and see if I cant' get a fair knockoff of a Flanders Red without going to the time of adding Bugs.
 

zoebisch01

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Try a sour mash on your next Wit. There are two ways of going about it (well three but I won't recommend that because it can definitely produce a nasty batch).

One method is to remove a small portion of your mash, say 1.5 lbs and set it aside, heat to around 150, cover it and leave sit in a small covered stainless pot in the oven with the light on which should keep you around 130ish. That is left to sour until you feel it is appropriate and then added just before sparge (it should be converted by then, do a test, if not you can hold it at conversion temp), or in the case of a Wit it doesn't really matter all that much. The advantage to this is it is much easier to control the sour level on the fly by reserving a small portion of the liquid.

The second method, which I feel produces a 'cleaner' lacto souring is you mash, sparge and then heat your entire volume of wort to around 156 or so, cover and leave it sit. Now here is the tricky part. You have to anticipate beforehand how much longer it will take once you reach 170 and above on the stove which will halt the process to get the proper level of souring. In other words, there is a finite amount of time that will pass between your judgment of the sour level and when you actually halt the process. In that time frame you can easily overshoot what you are after. After having done this several times, 18 hours gives you very sour, 12 hours is probably about right. The rate of pH drop goes exponential as you cool. 130 is about where they do their fastest work.
 

Saccharomyces

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Sour mash on the wit would work very well as long as you are careful not to go overboard. The style is pretty delicate so you don't have a lot of wiggle room.

Other ideas... double decoc pils, saaz and German pils SMaSH style like a Pilsner Urquell. Yumm.. Or how about a RIS, the 8-8-8 recipe? I did an oaked tripel with a step mash and decoc mashout, that was a fun one.
 
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Looks to me like youre going to be sour mashing a beer. We've decided!


Saccharomyces....Are you saying Saaz for the Pilsner Urquell SmAsH? Never thought of a lager...SmAsH, but I'd try if that was the one.
 

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I see you make mostly ales. Have you tried any German Helles or Maibock? These are mostly Malty beer but very tasty too. I would fly sparge or modified fly sparge as it does pull out more of the melinoidens due to the longer sparge.
 
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EamusCatuli

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Well the sour mash is really looking interesting. But it also looks like it would be a 2-day brew affair? Im confused as to what you mean by "pulling" out the mash and letting it sit though. Does this mean that I would be scooping out a portion of grains and water from the main tun and letting it sit for a day? What happens to the rest of the mash while this is going on?

Also, as far as decoc's, do you more experienced brewers use this method more than single step mashing? Can it be used to increase the maltyness of any style?

Like I said before, im in a rut and im trying to get more flavor from my grain in my ales and I just don't think that single-step's are going to cut it anymore.

Ill def. look into some of those style you suggested, ive been wanting to toy with some new brews :D
 

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I love the suggestions for a sour mash! I've been playing with sour mashes for my Short and Stout recipe in my pull-down and I love how it gives a little extra edge to the finished beer.

You can also try making a true sour beer- like a Berliner Weisse by pitching a pure lactobacillus culture alongside your ale yeast. I'm brewing one on Sunday- mash low at 149, 15 minute boil.
 

jds

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Well the sour mash is really looking interesting. But it also looks like it would be a 2-day brew affair? Im confused as to what you mean by "pulling" out the mash and letting it sit though. Does this mean that I would be scooping out a portion of grains and water from the main tun and letting it sit for a day? What happens to the rest of the mash while this is going on?
Here's what I did for my "sour mashed" stout. I'm not telling you how to do it, or putting this forth as the best method:

I formulated a basic irish stout, and then brewed it as normal, reserving about 1/2 lb of 2-row malt, which I mashed separately at 155F in three cups of water.

The separate mash was allowed to sour in my basement for about three days. This was at a fairly low temperature for lacto (around 70F). Once it was fairly smelly and very sour (yes, I tasted it), I drained it, sparged it with 175F water, and boiled it for about ten minutes to pasteurize it. It smelled something like old socks -- I may have had something else starting along with the lacto.

Afterwards, I let the sour wort cool to about room temperature and added it back into the primary. Everything else was done as normal. The result was a fairly subtle sourness -- not anywhere close to lambic or Berliner Weisse levels. It's more like an extra-sour Guinness-type of sourness, although the beer itself doesn't taste much like Guinness at all (which was the idea).

Notes and information are in my recipe drop-down.

The next time I do it, I'll do the sour mash in a spare thermos or other small cooler for 12-18 hours to keep the temp in the lacto range and limit air contact, which can allow other organisms to take hold, resulting in rancid flavors, rather than a clean sourness. I'll also monitor the pH, so I can get an idea of "how sour" for future sour mashing fun.

Although I'm not normally a "fruit beer" drinker, I'm thinking a sour cherry or sour raspberry stout might be a tasty beer as well. Some sourness in a wit could also add some very interesting character.
 
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EamusCatuli

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Here's what I did for my "sour mashed" stout. I'm not telling you how to do it, or putting this forth as the best method:

I formulated a basic irish stout, and then brewed it as normal, reserving about 1/2 lb of 2-row malt, which I mashed separately at 155F in three cups of water.

The separate mash was allowed to sour in my basement for about three days. This was at a fairly low temperature for lacto (around 70F). Once it was fairly smelly and very sour (yes, I tasted it), I drained it, sparged it with 175F water, and boiled it for about ten minutes to pasteurize it. It smelled something like old socks -- I may have had something else starting along with the lacto.

Afterwards, I let the sour wort cool to about room temperature and added it back into the primary. Everything else was done as normal. The result was a fairly subtle sourness -- not anywhere close to lambic or Berliner Weisse levels. It's more like an extra-sour Guinness-type of sourness, although the beer itself doesn't taste much like Guinness at all (which was the idea).

Notes and information are in my recipe drop-down.

The next time I do it, I'll do the sour mash in a spare thermos or other small cooler for 12-18 hours to keep the temp in the lacto range and limit air contact, which can allow other organisms to take hold, resulting in rancid flavors, rather than a clean sourness. I'll also monitor the pH, so I can get an idea of "how sour" for future sour mashing fun.

Although I'm not normally a "fruit beer" drinker, I'm thinking a sour cherry or sour raspberry stout might be a tasty beer as well. Some sourness in a wit could also add some very interesting character.
Questions - How long did you mash the 1/2 lb 2-row @ 155F before you put it in your basement?

How much water did you sparge with for the sour mash?

Were you at all worried about contamination when adding the sour mash to your primary?

What other styles can this be used for besides lambics and fruits (IMO.....yuck)
 

jds

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Questions - How long did you mash the 1/2 lb 2-row @ 155F before you put it in your basement?

How much water did you sparge with for the sour mash?

Were you at all worried about contamination when adding the sour mash to your primary?

What other styles can this be used for besides lambics and fruits (IMO.....yuck)
I mashed for maybe a half hour at temperature, then let it cool naturally. The idea was just to get some conversion. Sparging was done by dumping the whole mash into a large strainer and sprinkling hot water through it.

As for contamination, I wasn't worried, because I boiled it before adding it to the fermenter.

As for styles, the sky's the limit. Berliner Weisse is a sour weisse beer brewed almost completely via lacto-fermentation. I'd think brown ales and just about anything with some sweetness or malt character would go well with it. That's the beauty of homebrewing -- you can do whatever you want with it. I had a very tasty sour brown ale at GABF this year.

I'm no expert. I'm just getting into sour mashing. There are others here (look up some of LandHoney's posts) who have done a lot more extreme sour/naturally fermented beers.

Speaking of, I think I need to break out one of my bottles of BigKahuna's sour peach beer.
 

lustreking

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I mashed for maybe a half hour at temperature, then let it cool naturally. The idea was just to get some conversion. Sparging was done by dumping the whole mash into a large strainer and sprinkling hot water through it.

As for contamination, I wasn't worried, because I boiled it before adding it to the fermenter.
I wonder if the results would have been different if you did your sour mash a couple of days in advance of your full mash, and then added the results of the sour mash to rest of the wort in your kettle when you start the boil.

Any thoughts?
 

Beerthoven

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I have been a single-step, batch sparge AG'er for a while now, but im not very impressed with the way my grain bill's are coming out in the final product. I feel that I might need to step-up my brewing process and move on to more complex mashing to create better brews. Is there anything I can do that I can use next brew day without spending tons of $$$?
Just curious...but why do you think its the "single-step, batch sparge" part of the process that needs to be changed?
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Just curious...but why do you think its the "single-step, batch sparge" part of the process that needs to be changed?
Im surprised it took this long for someone to ask this!

Well I tend to not get the results I would like out of my beers, and i feel it may be because of my processes. Ergo, change it up and see if thats it. Im basically trying to weed out the possibilities.
 

flyangler18

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What are your fermentation temps/conditions? Seems that complicating the mash schedule will only make it harder for you to identify a problem area in your process.
 

Beerthoven

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Im surprised it took this long for someone to ask this!

Well I tend to not get the results I would like out of my beers, and i feel it may be because of my processes. Ergo, change it up and see if thats it. Im basically trying to weed out the possibilities.
Sounds reasonable. Changing things up from time to time is usually a good thing.

I'm a single-infusion, batch-sparger myself, and I know what you're talking about in not getting what you are after. I think my lesser beers have been the result of bad recipe decisions, mash temps that are too low, and carbonation that is too high. I'm working on improving those things. I don't want to move away from SI-BS mashing, because it took so long to get my system dialed in.

Good luck to you! Brewing is a journey, not a destination!
 

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Have you considered ingredients? What grains are you using? I love my LHBS because he stocks top quality grains, stores them very well, and refuses to substitute for lower quality. I feel the good quality shines through in my beer. I costs more, but quality has a price.

IMHO, sour mashing is not a solution to your problems. Certain styles demand a sour mash or fermentation, the styles you are having trouble with do not. If you want to do a fun brew just because, that is one thing, but I would not expect an experiment brew to fix your other problems.

If I were you, and I wanted to make a truly great beer, I would pick a beer style. Find the best recipe I could for that style. Research the best way to make that beer. Then do it. If you notice a fault at the end of the day, try to fix that problem (e.g., recipe, mash schedule, ferment temps, yeast choice, etc.).

For example, if you like wheat beers, do your next one with a very traditional recipe and do at least a multi-temp mash with at least one decoction.

I don't mean to discourage you, I just don't see how doing a sour mash will help any of your other beers.
 

BrewDey

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I was tossing the idea of step-infusions and maybe moving up to fly-sparging.....
I've never done any tricky mashes, but I've only fly-sparged as long as I've done AG. I can't really compare it to batch sparging, but I've never had any problems with efficiency. It's also kind of fun to man the sparge and keep the flow going. One of the benefits seems to be the ability to mash more grain in a given MLT.
 

Beerthoven

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Have you considered ingredients? What grains are you using? I love my LHBS because he stocks top quality grains, stores them very well, and refuses to substitute for lower quality. I feel the good quality shines through in my beer. I costs more, but quality has a price.

IMHO, sour mashing is not a solution to your problems. Certain styles demand a sour mash or fermentation, the styles you are having trouble with do not. If you want to do a fun brew just because, that is one thing, but I would not expect an experiment brew to fix your other problems.

If I were you, and I wanted to make a truly great beer, I would pick a beer style. Find the best recipe I could for that style. Research the best way to make that beer. Then do it. If you notice a fault at the end of the day, try to fix that problem (e.g., recipe, mash schedule, ferment temps, yeast choice, etc.).

For example, if you like wheat beers, do your next one with a very traditional recipe and do at least a multi-temp mash with at least one decoction.

I don't mean to discourage you, I just don't see how doing a sour mash will help any of your other beers.
Excellent points.
 

jds

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Just curious...but why do you think its the "single-step, batch sparge" part of the process that needs to be changed?
You know, this is a really good point. I read the OP as "I'm tired of just mashing and boiling -- what else can I do?" and not "I'm not getting what I want out of my process." Reading comprehension issue, I guess.

Funky techniques and different beer styles will not help you dial in your formulation / brewing / fermenting process. They do make for fun experiments, though.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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My first actual suggestion would be to look to your fermentation. Do you have a temp. controlled environment, or are your fermenters sitting in a closet? This could be a huge help for you. My best beers are the ones I am able to control all aspects including ferment temp.
 
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EamusCatuli

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My first actual suggestion would be to look to your fermentation. Do you have a temp. controlled environment, or are your fermenters sitting in a closet? This could be a huge help for you. My best beers are the ones I am able to control all aspects including ferment temp.

I for sure realize that doing funky mashes arent going to help me, I was just looking into the sour mash because its different. But no im not doing it to get me out of what I believe to be a funk in my brewing, the thread just kinda shaped into that. I really do need to improve on fermentation temps though because my beer does just sit in a closet, but i dont know any other way at the moment. I wanted to start doing decoc's but im still in the research phase.
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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I thought it was your attempt at making your creation look like frankenstein as much as possible. haha

Very cool, but my MLT uses a braid for lautering and I have read you should use a manifold or a false bottom. Looks like it would be more than $5 :(


Unless im wrong....
 

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I thought it was your attempt at making your creation look like frankenstein as much as possible. haha

Very cool, but my MLT uses a braid for lautering and I have read you should use a manifold or a false bottom. Looks like it would be more than $5 :(


Unless im wrong....
I've used both, and never had a problem.
 

zoebisch01

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Like I said before, im in a rut and im trying to get more flavor from my grain in my ales and I just don't think that single-step's are going to cut it anymore.
Ahh, ok. Sorry I misinterpreted the context of your OP and thought you meant "new direction" in general, not in the sense of improving on your already established beers. pjj2ba had some interesting ideas a while back that aren't what people 'normally' think of. I'll see if I can dig up those posts. Tbh, as far as process really all that comes to mind is what people get into, which you mention you have been doing.

Decoction, but that doesn't fit every style or malt really. To make the most of it, you should only be using rests that match the degree of modification of your malt. As you know, most malts today are more fully modified.

Water, you can see what different waters do to your brew. Try to find a spring and make a beer with it.

Sparge, I have been a fly sparger since the get-go so I am not entirely sure how different it will make it. I will tell you that the single most important thing is the rate. I never worry about mash-out and have always been very happy with the results.

What exactly is it that you are looking for? More "grainy" flavor? Malt? Clean? There is really only so much you can get from a malted grain. It has limited potential in itself.
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Ahh, ok. Sorry I misinterpreted the context of your OP and thought you meant "new direction" in general, not in the sense of improving on your already established beers. pjj2ba had some interesting ideas a while back that aren't what people 'normally' think of. I'll see if I can dig up those posts. Tbh, as far as process really all that comes to mind is what people get into, which you mention you have been doing.

Decoction, but that doesn't fit every style or malt really. To make the most of it, you should only be using rests that match the degree of modification of your malt. As you know, most malts today are more fully modified.

Water, you can see what different waters do to your brew. Try to find a spring and make a beer with it.

Sparge, I have been a fly sparger since the get-go so I am not entirely sure how different it will make it. I will tell you that the single most important thing is the rate. I never worry about mash-out and have always been very happy with the results.

What exactly is it that you are looking for? More "grainy" flavor? Malt? Clean? There is really only so much you can get from a malted grain. It has limited potential in itself.
Im mostly looking for a cleaner beer, while being able to get more malty tastes out of my brews. Maybe im over-carbing, maybe my ferm. temps are too high (I do keep my fermentors in a closet :( ). I really just want to get more distinction from my brews, as far as being able to taste the variety from my grain bills. I have only been brewing for a year but I think I can safely say im ready for some experimentation, ya know?
 

TexLaw

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I have been a single-step, batch sparge AG'er for a while now, but im not very impressed with the way my grain bill's are coming out in the final product. I feel that I might need to step-up my brewing process and move on to more complex mashing to create better brews. Is there anything I can do that I can use next brew day without spending tons of $$$?
Add another step. Brew a lager or something.

(I apologize if that's already been said, but I've been away for a couple hours, and I've had a couple a couple times or so)


TL
 

Clayton

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all this talk of "sour mash" has really perked my instrest.
and it will be good info for when my "ambrosia consentrating water removing widget" is done
 

ChemE

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I have done decoc's before, but those are mostly for belgians only right? My decoc belgian wit was delicious btw.
I just did a Marris Otter / Fuggle SMaSH and used a double decoction to increase the maltiness and it worked fantastically.
 

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Hey Eamus,

Im a U of I student as well, and was just wondering if you bought your supplies around here (i.e. Friar Tuck and Leisure Time) or if you did internet ordering- the specialty malt and yeast selections they have at both places are WEAK

my homebrew shop in libertyville (perfectbrewingsupply.com) charges you only for what you buy, no buying in pounds and splitting up the bags- they have a great hops selection and ship cheap

idk if you are a sour beer fan, but one of my favorite brews of all time is Monk's Cafe Flemish Red Ale, a very sour, very complex beer

you should consider toying with other cultures, such as Lactobacillus (im not a huge Brettanomyces fan, myself)- berliner weisse is a very interesting, very sour, very light ale that i personally can't get enough of

in any case, i live in Urbana and im in ACES- and i have three empty carboys dying to get filled, so send me a message if you want to brew sometime!
 

Whisler85

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also, have you tried toying with water chemistry? this can make a huge difference, especially in very hoppy or high gravity brews

ps- friar tuck just got a HUGE shipment of ale yeasts, including tons of belgians
 
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