Sour mash or sour wort ?

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dannyhawkins

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Hello guys,
I recently decided to apply the quick sour mash technique described for Berliner Weiss on this forum but I targeted a more Flanders red style (very loosely based)
The recipe
6lb. Vienna
6lb. Munich
2lb. Quick oats
1lb. Special B
I mashed these at 153 for a few hours and then cooled the grains and all to about 100 and pitched wyeast lactobacillus. I then kept temp elevated for three days with a heating pad and tasted periodically. I also covered the mash with plastic wrap then the lid to the sterlite container. There were no terrible smells like I expected fortunately, I'm guessing that may be from traditional raw grain soured mash. It was actually very pleasant smelling and by day 2-3 very sour but more of a smooth sour not extreme.

My problem was when it came to sparging, 2 pounds of oatmeal got to be like warm Elmer's glue stick soup after a three day soak and I had to fight the stuck mash all the way. I wonder if the same effects could be acquired if I sparged on day one and soured the wort only or does the grain help everything along for some reason. I'm planning to try this sour wort technique next time just want to make sure I'm not wasting my time cause its not the same or something.
BTW it's still waiting to be bottled I'm behind on bottling stuff cause I'm about to move so I've not tasted it since it went into the fermenter (tasted awful going in but smells so good now) thanks for the help.
 

weirdboy

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Honestly, after having done this with keeping the grains in there the whole time previously, I don't think there's really any reason for that other than tradition. Whatever bugs you are getting from the grain are already going to be in the wort when you drain the mash tun, so I think next time I do this I will probably simplify my process a bit.

I did get a really awful smell from my sour mash, and I just checked it yesterday (approximately 4 weeks later) and it still smells horrible. At this point I have just thrown the fermenter into a corner with a bunch of various bugs in there, in the hopes that in several months time it won't smell like something died in there anymore. One issue is that it's just sitting out in my garage without any temperature control, and it's been probably low 60's for most of that time so far. As it starts to warm up over the next couple of months going into the summer, I am hoping that things might change and my beer will clean up a bit as the brett, pedio, and lacto take over a bit more.
 
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dannyhawkins

dannyhawkins

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Did you use grain to sour or did you innoculate with a culture? And did you boil after a period of time? Or is it just a bug bomb allowed to do its thing "wild fermentation" style?

I've been wondering about this cause a lot of people describe godawful smells and some don't have them. Then some that get a smell say the it is cooked off and some don't ever get rid of it. It's interesting to try to figure out.

One thing is for sure, when the hot weather comes, it will either get those guys working to clean up that beer or just get them working harder to stink that thing up permanently. Good luck with it
 

TreeBridge

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I made a berliner weisse but i didn't sour the mash. I mashed with a normal schedule and did not boil the wort. I did cool the wort to about 140F before putting it in my fermentor. I pitched a handful of grains in the fermentor and then waited 36 hours before i added in yeast. I think i let it ferment for 3 weeks before carbonating.

It was sour for sure with no hints of vinegar flavor (different bacteria). One of the batches was blended with an IPA and pale ale. We had a lot of positive feedback from fans of sour beers.
 

weirdboy

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I used whatever was already in the grain to sour the wort. I didn't pitch any new uncrushed grains or lacto cultures. I may take a different approach next time, but still working out what that might be.
 
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dannyhawkins

dannyhawkins

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Okay quick but sad update.
This beer smells great but I detected a harsh flavor heading into primary but thought it would dissipate. When I took a sip it was sour, wet dog, then bitter in the worst way. When bottling it was the same if not greater. I tasted the wort before sparging and it was good and sour but nothing offensive so this flavor had to come from the sparge or the boil. I had a stuck sparge so it could have got a bit hot while dealing with that but I suspect it was actually the hop additions in the boil. Has anyone gotten wet dog from hops before? It was 10 IBU of something at 60 and 8 IBU around 30. Also is this just because sour and bitter don't go anyway I've heard this but I thought 18 IBU would be ok.
 

toddq

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I'm a big fan of souring the wort instead of the mash. Next time try a standard mash/sparge, then pitch your lacto starter into the ~100 degree wort. Hold it warm for a day or two (to taste), then proceed to boil. There's a lot of other stuff besides lacto growing on those grains that could contribute funky flavors. They get killed off below a certain ph, but who knows what they're doing in the meantime. I actually get my wort up above 200 degrees to pasteurize it before chilling to 100 and pitching lacto.
 

dcHokie

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I'm a big fan of souring the wort instead of the mash. Next time try a standard mash/sparge, then pitch your lacto starter into the ~100 degree wort. Hold it warm for a day or two (to taste), then proceed to boil. There's a lot of other stuff besides lacto growing on those grains that could contribute funky flavors. They get killed off below a certain ph, but who knows what they're doing in the meantime. I actually get my wort up above 200 degrees to pasteurize it before chilling to 100 and pitching lacto.
Have you done the full sour wort method a lot? I just capped 5 gallons of wort with a 1/2 LB of acidulated malt in a 5 gallon cooler (purged w/ co2 and covered with saran wrap) and am wondering how many days I should let it go. Any advice?
 

malweth

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Have you done the full sour wort method a lot? I just capped 5 gallons of wort with a 1/2 LB of acidulated malt in a 5 gallon cooler (purged w/ co2 and covered with saran wrap) and am wondering how many days I should let it go. Any advice?
I've only done this the once, but I made the full wort (including sparge) which may take longer. I got it up between 90-95°F (as high as my chamber could get) from last Friday evening until Tuesday evening. That's about 96 hours exactly from sparge 'til boil. It smelled perfect during the boil, but I won't taste the final product until next week or so (bottling Wednesday to ship Friday... yeaaaaah cutting it close).
 

toddq

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I wouldn't call it a lot, but I've done the sour wort method three times now. Like all fermentations, the time is going to be dependent on your temp and size of pitch. With 6.5gal of 1.035 wort held at ~100F and a half liter lacto starter (made from grain), I've pasteurized batches at 12, 24, and 48 hours into souring. The 12hour batch I was going for something a little more approachable and less intense. After 24 hours they get to a ph of about 3.2, which is about the limit they'll typically go (or that I'd want to).
 

TNGabe

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I've only done this the once, but I made the full wort (including sparge) which may take longer. I got it up between 90-95°F (as high as my chamber could get) from last Friday evening until Tuesday evening. That's about 96 hours exactly from sparge 'til boil. It smelled perfect during the boil, but I won't taste the final product until next week or so (bottling Wednesday to ship Friday... yeaaaaah cutting it close).
You're in the last minute berliner for nationals club? Me too. :tank:
 

malweth

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You're in the last minute berliner for nationals club? Me too. :tank:
The problem with kegs . . . you just don't know how much you have left ;)
In this case, my stout was nearly gone.

I don't mean to hijack, but this is somewhat on topic.
It's early yet, (though the fermentation is nearly done) and I sampled my beer last night. There's no carbonation and it's warm, of course, but I still noticed the same cooked corn smell / flavor as pre-boil (15 minute boil). My recipe does use pils malt ... am I full of DMS or does that go away (especially with some cold and carb)?
 

dcHokie

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I wouldn't call it a lot, but I've done the sour wort method three times now. Like all fermentations, the time is going to be dependent on your temp and size of pitch. With 6.5gal of 1.035 wort held at ~100F and a half liter lacto starter (made from grain), I've pasteurized batches at 12, 24, and 48 hours into souring. The 12hour batch I was going for something a little more approachable and less intense. After 24 hours they get to a ph of about 3.2, which is about the limit they'll typically go (or that I'd want to).
I ended up keeping my 5 gallons of wort at 100-110 F for about 4 days and then transferred to a fermenter (no boil, no hops) and pitched a ton of saison yeast, it is bubbling away happily.
 
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