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Sour Mash Commercial Beers

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by PuFtonLyfe, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. PuFtonLyfe

    PuFtonLyfe Savant (295) North Carolina Jun 2, 2011 Beer Trader

    I am wondering if there are any commercial beers out there that use the sour mash technique. I have never personally used the technique in homebrewing, but I have heard it produces great results and requires little to no aging since the sourness is achieved during the mash rather than during fermentation. Since breweries are very fond of quick turnaround, I would assume that someone out there is using the technique for their sours. But maybe not. And if not, why not?
  2. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Advocate (670) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

  3. Monsone

    Monsone Savant (380) Illinois Jun 5, 2006

    I think the Pipeworks guys use a sour mash for their line of Berliners.
  4. As a homebrewer who has done plenty of sour mashes, I can chime in on why they aren't found very often:

    1. They stink. It's not that bad on the homebrewer level but a giant sour mash would really stink up a joint.

    2. Hard to get predictable results. You're basically just going with what you have on the grain and hoping for the best. If you get some bad flavors in there you're dumping the whole mash and starting over. You will get some batches with more sourness than others unless you have extremely good temperature and oxygen control on it.

    3. Needs dedicated equipment. You can sour mash in your mash tun but you need to eliminate oxygen contact to deter off flavors, which means you need a way to do that. Plus, it needs to sit for 1-3 days, so that means if you have one mash tun and you sour mash in it you can't brew any other beers in it until your sour mash ends and you clean it out.

    4. If you are going to sour mash and then boil the wort you're driving off a lot of the flavors made in the souring process, leaving a cleaner sour beer. It would be more cost effective to brew a clean beer from the start and add lactic acid after fermentation and achieve essentially the same results. That's why a no-boil berliner weisse will have more funky/fruity/cheese character than one sour mashed and then boiled. The boil drives off a lot of those interesting flavors. On the commercial level there's not really a legitimate financial basis for keeping your mash tun heated at 110F for three days and foregoing that production equipment when you could just dump a couple bucks of lactic acid in the bright tank before bottling.
    HeadyBeer, phooky and Stigs like this.
  5. SaCkErZ9

    SaCkErZ9 Champion (905) Florida Feb 27, 2005 Beer Trader

    Isnt Guinness partially sour mashed?
  6. Hard to get outside of BC, but Driftwood's Blackstone Porter has a portion of the mash soured.