Author Topic: Sour Worting  (Read 9019 times)

Offline s rails

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2012, 09:19:31 AM »
Update-  The sour worting in the Iglo was a failure. To quote from my Facebook page, "The experiment smells like failure. Sophia walked into the garage and said she thought we had dirty diapers in a diaper genie. A bad sign since that's a smell associated with enterobacter. Not good. At a double header Futsal game will check it when I get home." 

I definately had an enterobacter infection (the smell was more then horrible- think of super ripe diapers). The bad wort went down the gutter. On day two I didn't have any ph change so I threw some two row in.  The ph was at 4.0 by the next morning but the infection had already taken hold.   Who knows how I got it; just need to prevent it going forward.

What I've learned- the bad bugs can't reproduce below 4.3 ph, survive without oxygen, or with 2% alcohol present (all in Wild Brews; pg 115).  When I pitched a single vial in 5 gallons I didn't pitch enough.  Make a starter (give the lacto a head start).  Chad Yacobson of Crooked Stave recommended bringing the wort up to 180 F for 15 minutes to give yourself a blank slate to work with (on the Brewing Network interview).   

I will try again this week- big lacto starter, big yeast starter (Wild Brews states saccharomyces can't reproduce below 4.5 ph; pg 115).  I will make a wort again, bring it to 180F for 15 minutes, drop to 110F, pitch the lacto starter, cover the wort with CO2, seal the fermenter with an air lock, place in my garage (over 100F right now), wait at least 48 hours to check ph and taste, if satisfied with souring pitch yeast after droping temp to 68F.  I have added 10% acidulated malt to get the ph down as well in the grist.  My grist is 50% pilsner/two row, 40% wheat malt, 10% acidulated (Wheat by Stan H is another good book with tips on BW and Gose).  I will be adding raspberries if all goes well (haven't determined how much yet).  This will not be to style since I expect a abv close to 6%; guess I will call it an Imperial.  I plan on updating so others can get some ideas.  By no means would I say this is the only way to sour a beer, so I wouldn't argue with all the other processes mentioned.

The question about the commercial brewery-  This is a brew pub.  They have a limited number of fermenters and all appeared to be in use.  I didn't ask since I hadn't tried this yet about how long it ties up the equipment.  I asked how long it took to get to where he wanted it and he said he checks using a wine tritrate kit and when its done he boils like a normal beer.  I assume maybe a day or two.  I think they must pitch a large amount of lacto to do the work.  This beer beat Russian River Supplication and Allagash Mattina Rossa for the gold at the 2012 world beer cup in the American Sour Category.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 07:10:17 AM by s rails »
Sean Railing
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2012, 09:20:57 AM »
The technique is to keep the wort in the kettle holding the temp somewhere between 100 F and 120 F and innoculating with a Lacto culture from Wyeast.   Once he reaches his desired sourness he boils the wort and ferments it. 

How long was he (and are you) tying up your kettle to get the desired sourness?

For a commercial brewery, that sounds like a really big drain on production time. Especially since they are already buying lactic cultures (not just relying on culturing lacto from the grain).

You still want the heat to accelerate lacto performance. As you point out, there's no need to hit a certain temperature to try to help lacto outperform and crowd out less desirable bacteria but the heat will still make it ferment quicker so he will actually lose less production time keeping it warm than letting it sit at room temperature.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2012, 09:30:11 AM »
Update-  The sour worting in the Iglo was a failure. To quote from my Facebook page, "The experiment smells like failure. Sophia walked into the garage and said she thought we had dirty diapers in a diaper genie. A bad sign since that's a smell associated with enterobacter. Not good. At a double header Futsal game will check it when I get home." 

I definately had an enterobacter infection (the smell was more then horrible- think of super ripe diapers). The bad wort went down the gutter. On day two I didn't have any ph change so I threw some two row in.  The ph was at 4.0 by the next morning but the infection had already taken hold.   Who knows how I got it; just need to prevent it going forward.

What I've learned- the bad bugs can't survive below 4.3 ph, without oxygen, or with 2% alcohol present (all in Wild Brews; pg 115).  When I pitched a single vial in 5 gallons I didn't pitch enough.  Make a starter (give the lacto a head start).  Chad Yacobson of Crooked Stave recommended bringing the wort up to 180 F for 15 minutes to give yourself a blank slate to work with (on the Brewing Network interview).   

I mash like a clean beer, sparge, bring it to a full boil, cool to 115F and toss in grain. Once it is sufficiently sour I reboil then treat it like a regular beer. Often I sour wort only part of the wort and let it go for several days and then add it at the beginning of the boil. Never had a problem with nastiness. I do my sour worts in a growler (so you can see why it's easier to just sour part) but I fill it into the neck so there is very little oxygen contact. That is probably where you are going wrong with the igloo. I would recommend souring in a glass carboy or some other container with a very small opening or at a minimum use saran wrap over the top of the liquid in your cooler and push out all the air bubbles so there is next to no exposure.

Also, make sure you're not dumping a sour wort that smells the way it should, even if it doesn't smell delightful. A sour wort will stink a bit. I think it smells like rotten creamed corn. Others have said sour milk, sour grains, etc. It's not a great smell but it should be distinctly different from a vomit or fecal smell. Before you think it's gone bad, really ask yourself whether that smell reminds you of creamed corn gone bad. If it does, you are ok. The smell will go away after fermentation. I promise.

If you end up with a bad vomit or fecal smell and you're especially daring, you could do what Chad also talked about in that interview. Pitch brett. It will convert the foulness into interesting flavors. I've never done it but if somebody would know whether it works, it would be him.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2012, 09:53:46 AM »
That is really weird. I've never had a sour wort that smelled like anything but sauerkraut. I remember reading something about how the yeast-lab Brett strains don't come with very many cells, compared to a Sacc. yeast. I suspect your Lacto culture was just too small to out-compete the other bugs. One of the benefits to using a starter is you can smell/taste it before you use it to make sure your bugs are working correctly.
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Offline s rails

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2012, 08:39:05 PM »
Tonight I tried again.  This time I made a liter starter for the lactobacillus (apple juice) 2 days in advance.  It had lots of carbon dioxide activity.  I also put the 100 F wort in a fermenter, purged with carbon dioxide until the Star San dissipated.  Finally I placed a one way gas valve on the fermenter.  I should get the souring results I want.

I heard Chad say the same thing about butyric acid and Brett.  I got to tell you this was BAD!  The Igloo has been ruined and is permeated with the awful smell.  Not even worth the try to me.

I will update just in case some else searches this thread on the subject.
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Offline s rails

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2012, 06:44:46 AM »
Good news- I have lots of carbon dioxide activity this morning in the carboy.  I checked the ph using strips but it isn't at the high end of the strips yet at 4.4 ph.  I tasted it; little tangy and still sweet.  I'll post once I get around 4.0 or 3.8 ph.  It smells much better; slightly fruity.
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2012, 07:09:09 AM »
Good news. Are you basing your decision to stop souring only on pH? I'd taste it too.
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Offline s rails

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2012, 07:16:40 AM »
No, I'll taste. I just want to get below 4.3 ph so the bad bugs can't reproduce.  The last experiment was a little unsettling and I don't want to repeat it.  The smell has ruined my Igloo and I'd feel better knowing those bugs are not going to be a problem.
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Online kramerog

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2012, 08:12:44 AM »
No, I'll taste. I just want to get below 4.3 ph so the bad bugs can't reproduce.  The last experiment was a little unsettling and I don't want to repeat it.  The smell has ruined my Igloo and I'd feel better knowing those bugs are not going to be a problem.

I've reused a mash tun that contained a mash that smelled like vomit without problems.  Others have too.  I even made a no boil Berliner Weiss using the mash tun.  Just clean well and use some sanitizer.
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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2012, 08:17:53 AM »

 I do my sour worts in a growler (so you can see why it's easier to just sour part) but I fill it into the neck so there is very little oxygen contact. That is probably where you are going wrong with the igloo. I would recommend souring in a glass carboy or some other container with a very small opening or at a minimum use saran wrap over the top of the liquid in your cooler and push out all the air bubbles so there is next to no exposure.


Lacto is tolerant to low levels of oxygen and warm wort should be low in oxygen.  I've soured 10-gallon batches of Berliner Weiss in my 15-gal brew kettle successfully without taking any special precautions such as purging the headspace or covering the surface with foil.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2012, 08:36:11 AM »
What kind of pH adjustment are you guys doing on your mash/wort with this method? I was thinking that if you use a high percentage of acidulated malt and/or use a big addition of phosphoric or lactic acid to get the pH lower than normal then you may give your lacto bugs a bit of a head start to outcompete any nasties.
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Offline tom

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2012, 02:51:53 PM »
That's what I do.  I make a 2L sour mash and lacto starter and lower the pH to less than 4.3 with lactic acid and keep it at 100-120F for 3 days.  Then do the same with the full mash
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2012, 11:13:15 AM »
The newest Basic Brewing Radio is an interview with a guy who does a sour-mash BW.

He mentions that his sour mash smells terrible but does not taste terrible. He mentions in 48 hours the bad smell dies down (a bit) and does not at all carry through to the finished beer.

A few other BBR shows have covered sour worts with similar results, one of which being a commercial brewery (Upright) who sours a bit of their mash in a cooler overnight. He says the brewery smells very "ripe" in the morning, but it also doesnt carry that flavor through.
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Offline rjharper

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2012, 06:14:40 AM »
I've been sour worting my first attempt at a Berliner Weisse.  I added an ounce of lactic acid to the wort to drop the initial pH down, and 4oz of grain.  I purged the headspace of the brewpot with CO2 and covered it with saran wrap.  After 36 hrs of keeping it at 90F +/- 5F its smells (and tastes) nicely sour, no off notes in the nose, the SG has dropped from 1.044 to 1.036 (partial boil, recipe OG target was 1.031) and the pH is somewhere between 3.0 and 3.5 (I don't have the most precise dip strips).  I'll do the 15 min boil tonight, and off to the fermenter, lacto bug free...

Offline erockrph

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Re: Sour Worting
« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2012, 07:44:27 AM »
Has anyone who has used this method gone too low on the wort pH where regular ale yeast just won't finish out fermentation? Or does the lacto stop before you get to that point?
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