Sour (Mini-)Mash, Second Try

Whoops, wrote this yesterday but got busy, so I’m posting it now. The present tense… that’s yesterday afternoon’s present tense. The souring didn’t happen, and the thermos didn’t seem to hold in the heat enough, so I’m going to try warm up the mash again to 50, and then sit it on a hot pad. That means today I’ll brew the Abbey Dubbel, and tomorrow the all-Brett. UPDATE: Uh, what? I assumed it hadn’t soured, because it didn’t smell sour, but in fact, it was very nicely tart when I just tasted it. So, all-Brett is on for today, while tomorrow I’ll do up a Dubbel of some sort, and hopefully bottle my last Dubbel and the Belgian Pale Ale too.

I got some less than spectacular results from the last attempt I made at a sour mash, but I’m trying it again, this time with a good reason: I’m going to do an all-Brett brew. I have a starter of Brettanomyces Clausenii (ie. “Brett”) going, and man is it slow. So slow, indeed, that I’m wondering how long it will take to start off once I dump it into wort. I’m thinking the wort will be brewed up on Wednesday, but I need to sour some of the malt/mash because Brett likes a more acidic environment. (And I’ve been convinced, by the sluggishness of the Brett in the starter I’ve got going, that I’d better acidify the environment for it.)

I followed the same method as last time, and as outlined at, this time working with only 10% of my total grist (all Pilsner malt). It’s mashing on the stove now, and I’ll be dumping it into a thermos once the mashing and mashout is done. Dumping it all — grains, wort, and everything — plus a little extra Pilsner malt that wasn’t mashed. The reason for this extra Pilsner malt is simple: there’s lactobacillus delbruckii–the same little bugger that yogourt out of milk, and sour cream out of cream–growing on the husks of the grain, a very natural phenomenon, and the result is that you can use some raw grain to sour a batch of mashed grain.

So I’m going to be shooting to (a) get the mash down to about 49 or 50 degrees Celcius (because that’s the optimal temperature for Lactobacillus), and I’m aiming to fill the themos it’ll sit in for a day or two right up to the lid (because the less oxygen gets in, the better). Depending on the results, I’ll either brew up the all-Brett beer tomorrow, or the day after. On the other day, I’ll be doing up a batch of Abbey Dubbel. I was hoping to do a replication of the last Dubbel I brewed, to compare the effects of the yeast, but I don’t quite have the grains necessary to do that, so I’m just going to get a little creative with the grist of the second dubbel. (Whereas I think the all-Brett will be a little simpler.)

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