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Sour Mash Ale

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barnhs

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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?
:confused:
 

elleric

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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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barnhs

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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?
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.
 

bb239605

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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!
 

TNGabe

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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.
 

bb239605

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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?
 

cluckk

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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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barnhs

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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?
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.
 

SagamoreAle

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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
 

cluckk

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I guess that is the nice thing about homebrewing. I make what I want, call it what I want and everyone else can do the same.
 

bb239605

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Well whatever the case may be, I like sour beers and I soured my Kentucky common.That being the case here's an update.

I've begun messing around with my souring temperature for my sour wort lactobacillus delbrukii ferment. I've found that for a two day sour the temperature can be anywhere between 70F and 120F. The closer to 70 the less sour the beer will be. Actually at 70, the sourness is barely detectable and at 120F you get a full on sour bomb. Both ways are delicious, it just depends what you want.

For this beer I decided a hint was better than bracingly sour. I did my lactobacillus ferment at 80F. I would say it is equivalent to a 20% partial sour. Just enough to be noticeable but not over powering.

I pitched 001 last night and she is fermenting away nicely. I'll let you know how it tastes in a week, signs look good as of now.
 

SagamoreAle

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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

Rereading this, it sounds like I was pissing on somebody's campfire. Sorry if it came across that way. I was just trying to put out some info.
 
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barnhs

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SagamoreAle said:
Rereading this, it sounds like I was pissing on somebody's campfire. Sorry if it came across that way. I was just trying to put out some info.
Lol - no worries. As home brewers, we all have to have thick skins. (E.g. See posts in "Stupidest comments on your beer" thread.)

As to the history, I've read that it was both soured/not soured. The most logical conclusion to me was that brewers in Louisville (where most was brewed) would have mashed the same way as a bourbon distiller - in the left over soured mash tun. But that could be totally inaccurate.

Fortunately, since this isn't a defined style, I don't think it matters. I've always visioned it as a slightly sour brown, and not a Belgium sour beer, nor a creamed brown ale. But with this one, everybody gets to experiment and define their own style.

Brew happy, SagamoreAle. You left no rain on anyone's parade. The sun is shining, and the water cold. Looks like another great brew day.
 

SagamoreAle

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<snip>The most logical conclusion to me was that brewers in Louisville (where most was brewed) would have mashe d the same way as a bourbon distiller - in the left over soured mash tun.
I'm thinking the same thing. I'm wondering if maybe it was taken away as the "first runnings" from the fermented mash before the distillation process was started. This assumes that it is possible to get any runnings at all out of a fermented mash. Potentially a cheap way of making some $$$ before the long wait involved in aging distilled beverages. This is entirely speculative on my part.

The Wikipedia article on Kentuck Commons is pretty weak. On the positive side, it refers to a book called "American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades," Robert Wahl and Max Henius, 1902. I'm going to give that a read on Guttenberg or Google Books and see if there is any solid information about the KC.
 

SagamoreAle

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<snip> On the positive side, it refers to a book called "American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades," Robert Wahl and Max Henius, 1902. I'm going to give that a read on Guttenberg or Google Books and see if there is any solid information about the KC.
P. 818 describes Kentucky Common Ale.
 

bb239605

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Thought I would update once again on the Kentucky common I made that was inspired by this thread.

I racked it to the secondary, and it tasted fantastic! Sourness was subtle, not overpowering but complimentary. The corn sweetness came through nice. We'll see for sure in a couple weeks when I keg it.
 

SagamoreAle

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Well as one of the derailers it's nice to hear how it's working out. Looking forward to hear about the final result.
 

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Looking forward to how this comes out
 
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barnhs

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Ok - ready for round two. Had to throw out round one - way too sour and under fermented. This time, I'm going to mash 15% of the grain bill, and then toss it back in the mash tun prior to sparking. Hopefully this gets to the mild sour flavor I've been looking for.
 

bb239605

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So I just kegged up my Kentucky common today. It tastes damn delicious. I'll well definitely brew again.

Basically it is slightly sweet, perhaps under attenuated because of the sour mash, has nice corn sweetness, and is extremely drinkable.

What I've gathered for a full sour mash is to sour at 80 to 85 for two days instead of 100 to 120 for two days. Sourness is more subdued, almost complimentary and subtle. Plus the flavor is way better.

Anyway, bang up beer, 8/10, will brew again
 

cluckk

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I work with sourdough which is a mixture of yeast and lactobacillus in bread yeast and water. When I proof it the temperature controls the sourness. Under ninety and the dough will be less sour. Over ninety and it gets more sour. The best range is around 95 for a great smooth twang. Over 100 and you get only lactobacillus with no yeast. The same works for brewing.
 
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