A Soldier Down

The first batch I've had to dump: a doomed Berliner Weisse

I made it five years, 20 days and 58 brews without losing a batch.

Then came the fateful day, on January 18, 2012 when I made a small, one pound sour mini-mash. This mini-mash was to go into a Berliner Weisse I was brewing that Saturday.

Overcome with confidence (some say hubris), I figured the small, two quart cooler I bought for $5 at Target would hold temp in front of a heating vent for two days. Not so much…

I placed the sour mash in the cooler at about 120 degrees. By the time I took the temp on Saturday, it was room temperature at 70 degrees. It kind of smelled like yogurt, so I figured “what the hell,” and proceeded with the brew…

I brewed the simple, 1.032 OG wheat beer, incorporating the sour mash into the main mash after conversion, and hoped for the best.

A week later, fermentation has completed. The gravity is a little high at 1.010 and the beer smells like eggs. No tart. Just eggs. I thought about adding straight lactobacillus to try and salvage it, but I don’t think that can overcome the sulfur.

I’ve brewed plenty of beer that was very good, but I’ve been fortunate enough that it’s all been drinkable. This, however, is not. It’s time to put down my first beer.

I’m sad, but as they say, you learn more from failure than success.

(I used this article on sour mashing from Brew Your Own as a guide. While I messed up, I think it’s got some great techniques. Just make sure you have the right equipment to keep the temperature high enough for the entire sour mashing period.)

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About Brian

I like beer.
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4 Responses to A Soldier Down

  1. Russ says:

    Sorry to hear. Brings new meaning to the phrase “pour one out for all my dead homies”

  2. Jesse Helm says:

    ahh, sorry mate, that always sucks, but hey, there’s always something to learn from it. right? Is this the first time you’ve used the sour mash? I want to try but not sure the best way to go about it. I want to document it step by step for my beer coupons site and hopefully have a finished product worth drinking. Do you have any tips on what you’d do different next time? Would you consider a next time with the SM? This is a great blog, please keep it going, I really like it.
    Cheers, Mate
    -Jesse

  3. sorry to hear, I have lost 2 batches so far, it is never fun!! at the fist sign of my batch turning bad I dump it. I have found that trying to save a wash just never happens! Every batch you loose you learn something new :)

  4. Fred says:

    breweries in michigan, you’re crazy. I’ve tasted many a homebrew that started off “bad”, but after a few months was delicious.

    That said, I’m not finding many sour mash success stories, other than people who say, “It’s not really all that sour.” I think I’m going to stick to the ‘patience’ method, and let the wild yeasts do their thing over time.

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