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ChrisKennedy
01/20/10 12:50 PM  
Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
Has anyone tried mash hopping for when they are doing a sour mash?

I have only done one sour mash, and that was on a 7bbl batch of berliner weisse. I think it has turned out quite nicely, tart, lemony, fairly clean, certainly no real funk. But I would like it more sour, and I am afraid to push the sour mash too much farther for fear of getting a nasty funk in the beer.

My process was a thick mash in (I believe around .8-1qt/lb), 150F rest, left it over night. Came in in the morning and it was around 120F, at which point I dumped in 20lbs of uncrushed pilsner malt. This was into a total grain bill of I believe 315lbs (I am not at work so I cannot be sure of this number). I purged the headspace with beergas as best as I could, and then left it another day. It ended up being about a 48hr sour mash. The wort tasted sour and the mash smelled fairly horrible.

So the finished beer didn't come out all that sour, though the sourness is starting to come to the forefront of the beer as it ages, which is nice.

My thought was to mash hop and leave the sour mash for longer, perhaps 72hrs or so, either with aged or fresh hops, and hopefully deter the nasties (like enterobacter) without affecting the lactobacillus, which seems like it might be tricky.

I know lacto in general is fairly sensitive, but what about the strains often found on grain? Would this work? I also think I might get more sourness if I put more grain in the mash after it has cooled, and that will definitely be something I do differently next time.

If anyone is coming to the Avery Sour Fest, you will be able to try my Berliner, and hopefully if you see me around, give me good useful criticisms on how I can make it better. It will certainly be tough being next to RR and LA sours, but I believe I hit close enough to the style that folks will find it has its place at the fest.

Cheers

Rob B
01/20/10 01:13 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I am really hoping Avery releases some more tickets, I found out about it too late.

I have yet to try a sour mash but want to soon.

Seanywonton
01/20/10 03:12 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I dunno, I haven't tried what you are talking about, but I was going to try something similar today for a homebrewed B-weisse. I'm going to do a no-boil berliner, kind of like what is outlined in Designing Great Beers, where the hops are boiled in the decoction. I was thinking this method might work well on a commercial scale because you can get the lacto from the grains in te fermentation since you are not killing them in the boil. Also instead of doing a true decoction you could just pump over some of the first runnings to the boil kettle, boil that, and then pump in the rest of the wort and never boil it. Presumably if you keep the majority of the wort under 165ish, then lacto is going to survive into the fermentation process. I am also going to pitch a funky sour culture but I assume the lacto from the grains should shorten up the souring process.
ChrisKennedy
01/20/10 03:28 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I have done 4 no-boil berliner weisse at home with the whole mash hopping triple decoction method, and the hottest the wort reaches is 170F (besides the decocted portions of course).

I have enormous trouble getting them sour enough with lacto, and the no boil doesn't seem to help at all.

At work, I would much rather keep bugs away from my fermenters and transfer hoses and what not, and get the most out of a sour mash. I do believe that lactobacillus alone will ferment a cleaner tasting beer, but if I could figure out some ways to mitigate the funk that results from a spontaneous sour mash fermentation, I would be happier doing it that way. Shorter turnover times, seemingly more reliable sour levels, etc. Also, sending unboiled wort through my heat exchanger is basically not an option. I think that would be a recipe for disaster.

I was also thinking about the effect of mash thickness on a sour mash and sour levels in the final product. A sour mash will produce x amount of acid, and if you are doing a thick mash with a small beer, you will be diluting that sour wort down quite a bit. Would mashing in thinner allow for more souring and thus more retained sourness in the final product? Is a bigger beer better for retaining sourness since you will be diluting the sour wort with less sparge water?

Seanywonton
01/20/10 04:54 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
Have you tried adding a pure lacto culture to the main sour mash? Again, not really what you are asking about, but in theory it could out-compete the other wild bugs and provide fairly consistent results, sooner.

Also..where do you work?

Rudy Watkins
01/20/10 11:06 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I have had good luck increasing sourness in my Berliners by increasing the temperature of the sour mash. I've only done 3 batches, but the one with the sour mash done at 65f was less sour than the one done at 75f, which was less sour than the one done at 85f.

Lacto likes warmer temperatures (Wild Brews says 98F), so it makes sense that this would work.

-rudy

ChrisKennedy
01/20/10 11:49 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I haven't added a pure lacto culture to the sour mash because that would add at least 50% to the cost of the beer, which isn't the best option. I am also not sure that the cultured lacto is a great choice for sour beers.

Rudy, my sour mash actually never got below 105F or so, and there isn't really much hope for keeping it hotter. 350# of grain in a non-jacketed mash tun tends to do what it wants. Also, different strains of lacto have different ideal operating temps. For example, the main yogurt lacto seems to love about 120F. The commercial lacto d seems to like 98F (like you stated).

So any thoughts on varying the thickness of the mash? What about mimicking the "brew in a bag" technique and mashing in the sour mash with ALL of your needed liquor? They don't seem to have much trouble with conversion or anything. Would this help the bugs create more acid? At least this way you aren't diluting the sour wort that you spent multiple days creating. It might also help to keep the mash hotter.

Oh, and Seany, I am the brewer at the Yak and Yeti Brewpub in Arvada, CO. We are an Indian/Nepalese brewpub.

CarlT
01/21/10 09:44 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
Diluting the mash sounds like the best option to me. This is based on both litterature and my own observations working with lactobacillus both in lab-cultures and in home brewing. The arguments are the following:

1) Lactobacillus (like most bacteria) does not cope well with higher sugar concentrations (much less so than yeasts). Concentrations closer to the final wort (classically approx 8 degree plato) would be beneficial. This is unfortunately also true for som of the "stink-bugs", so some balance needs to be found.

2) Lactobacillus is (though producing it) sensitive to higher levels of acid, and will pretty soon reach a plateau in production when everything starts going very slow. In fact, they tend to start inhibt themselves with acid before running out of nutrients in even a lower gravity (6 plato) wort. This can be shown by renewal of growth after adding some carbonate (neutralizing) to the culture. If the mash is taken at such a plateu, and then diluted (let's say 50/50) the result will of course be only half the possible maximum.

I can't give you any exact numbers on how much to dilute the mash to find a balance (according to #1 above), but it sounded like you started of realy thick, so there should be some room for it. Another good method of minimizing any stink is to reach the lower pH-range faster, as this will inhibit "stink-bugs" more than Lactobacillus. This can be done by additionally innoculating the mash with an already established (non foul smelling) and "mature" sourmash (similar to expanding a sour-dough). Such a smaller mash can of course be jump-started by adding a pure lacto culture (and/or a little lactic acid to lower the pH from start on) in addition to the seeding with malt.

/Carl

B-Dub
01/21/10 09:52 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I believe the Cambridge Brewing Co uses a 72 hour sour mash. I listened to a pod cast on The Brewing Network a month ago. http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/580

You might give Will a call and talk to him about this sour mash and what the beer was like before the barrel. That is about the place you would be serving it and he would be aging it.

As for heating your mash, I would explore the possibility of running off to the kettle and then back to the mash/lauter to raise the heat without denaturing the lacto. Of course this means you have to have a mash/lauter tun combo and be careful not to burn your wort. I did once on a 20 BBL brew house. We had to dump it in the end. Sad day that was!!

sl8w
01/21/10 10:01 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
Carl's comments make sense to me. Recently a friend did a full wort sour mash that came out much cleaner than the ones I've tried with only half the liquid (before sparging). Of course other variable such as different grists, season, location, luck, etc. could have also influenced it.

But as for your idea of mash hopping the sour mash, I don't think it will protect you from funk. Hop acids do not retard brett or saccharomyces yeasts (at least at mash hopping levels), so those wild strains likely won't be inhibited. Wild Brews says that it is common for hop acids to retard the growth of gram positive bacteria, such as lactobacillus. Enterobacter is a gram negative bacteria, as is (IIRC) Acetobacter.

wetherel
01/21/10 12:49 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I fear mash hopping would slow lactobacillus, so you wouldn't get the sourness you desired from the sour mashing. If you wish inhibit enterobacteria, I wonder if you could add some acidulated malt to lower the pH. Doesn't enterobacter die below a ph of 4.2, and most necrobacteria at 4.6.
Al B
01/22/10 11:20 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
Chris -

I won't disuade you from exploring options in your brewhouse, but the quote "have enormous trouble getting them sour enough with lacto" caught my attention.

My POV is simply that A) there was not enough Lacto population in relation to yeast and/or B) the Lacto was in a lag phase in relation to the yeast. These 2 factors are paramount to Berliner weisse.

For this option, a separate lacto starter is recommended which may take a couple of weeks for 7bbl. Pitch rate will be "slightly" less than yeast pitch (at the same time), say 2:1 to 4:1 yeast to lacto. The end pH should be 3.2 - 3.4.

Second, mash hop lightly as any B. weisse and raise the collected run-off to boil temp to kill off any contaminants (protecting your brewing equipment).

You may contact me at:

eastcoastyeast@comcast.net for any assistence.

Al

ChrisKennedy
01/22/10 12:33 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
The trouble with lacto is all homebrew based.

My procedure has been to make a 1L starter out of a lacto vial and incubate it at 98F for 24hrs, but perhaps that is woefully inadequate for a 5gal batch? I was resorting to giving it 12-24hrs head start over the yeast as well.

How quickly should sourness be noticed if you are pitching a proper amount of lactobacillus? Should the entirety of the acid production be done fairly immediately, or is that something that needs age to happen?

My first batch came out nice and tart, but every one since then has been a disappointment.

At work, my main concerns are cost of a lacto pitch, which, when a batch of beer without it costs $250 for 7bbls, and the pitch of lacto that isn't even big enough without building up costs $150, it really isn't cost effective IF you can get as good a result other ways.

Another concern is the increased time it takes for a finished product. If I can turn over a damn good tasting Berliner Weisse in 4-6weeks versus 8-12 weeks (sour mash versus lacto fermentation), then I am going to take the shorter version.

And of course there is the factor of keeping bacteria out of my fermenters, serving vessels, racking hoses and serving lines. If I can avoid this it would be for the best.

I feel like sour mashing is a viable technique for making an excellent berliner, but it will definitely take more experimentation to figure out how to increase my sourness, without increasing the funk.

tripel666
01/22/10 01:33 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
A easy way to sour your Berliner weisse is use around 8% saur malt (German Acid malt). Works real good. The grain contains lactic acid, no other bugs. I tried around 4% in a oud bruin, very nice.
Al B
01/22/10 01:43 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
<<How quickly should sourness be noticed if you are pitching a proper amount of lactobacillus? Should the entirety of the acid production be done fairly immediately, or is that something that needs age to happen?>>

It should be noticed and entire within days i.e. when primary fermentation is done. Aging is not required for acid production here, but for other variables such as diacetyl or sulfury notes - if any (later to be absorbed by the yeast).

ChrisKennedy
01/25/10 11:29 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I would love to stay with lactobacillus for berliner weisse production, but it seems like maintaining a lactobacillus culture on a commercial level would be very difficult.

Although I suppose if your lacto/yeast culture became too lacto heavy, you could simply dilute it with more yeast?

This is not an option for me at my current pub, but eventually I want a berliner weisse to be a flagship at a place of my own, so this is something to think about and further experiment with.

wetherel
01/26/10 01:13 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
I don't see why lactobacillus has to be expensive. Can't you reuse your lacto culture infinite times (I do)? It seems to get faster and cleaner with more reuse. I've also just started trying acidophilus pills alone as a lacto source, which is very cheap. I see the biggest commercial problem will be producing the Berliner Weisse fast. Any off aromas from Lacto go away with aging (with Brett in my case). I'm not sure what is an acceptable commercial aging period.
sl8w
01/26/10 10:14 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
My homebrewing experience with lacto has been the opposite. When I've pitched successive batches of lacto/yeast slurry, the yeast seems to take over and the successive batches are less sour. Sorta the opposite of brett/yeast, where the brett seems to become more prominent with successive pitches. My working theory is that the lacto goes into a lag phase at the end of fermentation, and when re-pitched it takes longer to get re-started. By then, the yeast have had a head start.

Because of this, I've found it works better for me to maintain a pure lacto culture/slurry, and build it up each time.

I'd be interested in hearing other peoples successes/failures with re-pitching lacto/yeast. Are my experiences out of the ordinary?

wetherel
01/26/10 07:53 PM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
Successive generation populations could be related to temperature. I have a sourdough culture, which I think was all lacto. I thought it would be interesting to add some WL Brett L to the flour/water/lacto sourdough culture in the fridge. After a month or so in the fridge I looked at it and tasted it and it wasn't sour and it looked like yeast slurry. I was thinking the cold temperature inhibited the lacto greatly, while the Brett was still eating away.
sl8w
01/27/10 09:44 AM  
Re: Sour Mashing and Mash Hopping
You could be right, and that's another reason I've tended to build up a separate lacto culture each time. I prepare my lacto starter at 90F or more, pitch it into the wort in the 60s or 70s along with the yeast. In the first batch, the lacto has a head start, but as fermentation proceeds the lower temps are better suited for the yeast so they probably grow at a faster rate. Thanks.
 
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