souring a Guinness clone

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by tngolfer, Apr 12, 2012.

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  1. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    I've read to buy two 12 oz. bottles of Guiness, pour them in a bowl, leave it out for a week to sour, then combine with my wort as I pour it into my primary.

    Should I cover the bowl of Guinness or leave it exposed?
  2. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    I have not heard of that method, and not completely sure that it would work (then again I am not sure it wouldn't). Could just do a sour mash for about a gallon of your wort for a day or two and then boil it with the rest of your wort. Doing a sour mash will assure you that there are sugars for the lacto to feed on. When you do this you should try to keep exposure to oxygen to a minimum if not completely separated.
  3. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2008 New York

    I don't think that adding spoiled beer to your wort would be a good idea. If you're looking to add some of that classic sour tang to a Guinness clone, you have three options:

    The Traditional Way - After primary fermentation, put 3% (about 2.5 cups per 5 gallons) of the beer into a separate jug and pitch lactobacillius. This will develop the sourness, but will take time. This is what Guinness traditionally did, way back in the day.

    The Current Way - Add Food-Grade Lactic Acid to the beer in secondary fermentation. This is what Guinness currently does because it's cheaper, easier and more efficient than relying on bacteria.

    The Easy Way - Replace 2-4% or so of the base malt in your grain bill with sour malt. It should give you the tang you're looking for.
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  4. randal

    randal Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2004 Colorado

    Off topic but why do people claim that Guinness has a perceptible sourness? I've been reading this since Michael Jackson first came out with the Beer Companion and I have never found a trace of "lactic tang" in any Guinness I have tried whether brewed in Ireland or Canada. The last time I did a serious objective tasting of Guinness (draught mind you) all I got was very slight roast, some astringency and old pennies nary malt nor hop nor sour to be found anywhere.

    So what gives?
  5. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,965) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I just searched the Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog, figuring there could be an entry about Guinness and lactic. Nothing specifically about Guinness, but at least one source for a couple entries on lactic acid suggested that Dublin Stouts of the early 20th century were known for having a higher than ordinary lactic acid content. I believe the units for the listed values were percent, so we are talking about 0.15-0.25 percent, which I suppose might be noticeable.
  6. BushDoctor

    BushDoctor Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2007 New York

    If you want to go the souring route just leave 24 oz. of pre-boil wort in a covered pot and it will sour. Lacto bacteria is present on the grain. Taste till you acheived the sourness you want. You can than boil the liquid to kill the bacteria and add to already fermenting -ed beer. If you are an extract person throw some crushed grain into 24 oz. of cooled wort and proceed the same.
  7. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    Lacto wont be doing too well once you get the temp too much above 120*F so you may want to toss grains in along with the wort assuming that you are taking the wort from a normal single infusion at 148-158.
  8. telejunkie

    telejunkie Aspirant (253) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    What I had to do was take a teaspoon of honey, take a drink of export Guinness, eat the honey, then take another drink of the Guinness. The honey will knock out your sugar receptors and you can really get a taste of the sourness. Doesn't work for the Guinness draught since there is no lactic acid added.

    I've done a sour mash of iirc 10% of the grist 2 day prior to the brew day for a Guinness-like clone. That worked really well and was a fan favorite. I would probably add acidulated malt as well. I've also heard of taking a portion of the 1st runnings and letting those ferment in a warm place for a couple days with a pinch of grains tossed in, boiling & dumping into primary..
  9. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    The food grade lactic acid mentioned by PangaeaBeerFood is quick, easy, inexpensive, and won't risk an out of control infection. I have used it with good results, and you can easily dial in the amount of sourness you want by adding a little at a time.
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  10. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2008 New York

    The "old pennies" flavor you're describing is probably the lactic acid. It's very mild, to the point that it isn't really sour or tart in the way the terms are commonly used... more of a mellow, almost metallic zing in the finish. I find it to be more perceptible in the draught version than the extra stout.
  11. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2011 Maine

    FWIW The secret is 3% sour Guinness, not lacto etc. I would keep it covered for a week, then freeze it. Add it (the soured Guiness) to the end of the boil. Every Guiness clone I have seen says the 3% sour Guinness.
  12. randal

    randal Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2004 Colorado

    Telejunkie above says there is no sourness in draught Guinness. Are we chasing a ghost here based on history? I certainly agree that up until modern(ish) times that untreated wood could lend all sorts of souring bacteria but we're talking about modern Guinness here which I would bet has no sour component.
  13. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2008 New York

    The fact that Guinness has some sort of acidity I don't think is particularly debatable. It's pretty evident in the glass (in my opinion) and there's a whole slew of experts to back that up, including Michael Jackson, Garrett Oliver, etc. The real question is how they achieve that zing. Is it the blending of old "stale" beer? Is it the addition of lactic acid? Sour malt? Maybe we're just detecting acid from the hops or the heavy roast of the barley, who knows. But the allure and myth surrounding Guinness is great for their business, so they don't confirm or deny either way. That being said, having tried homebrewed clones both with and without lactic acid, I think the lactic ones are far closer.

    Anyway, here's a quote from Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing:

    "The 3 Percent Factor Guinness uses a secret potion in their stouts that is made by deliberately souring some of their beer. When added in small amounts to the stout, it confers a lactic tanginess that makes their products absolutely unique. Technically, this is a difficult thing to do, although commercial cultures are available to homebrewers. Hold out a quart or three of beer and experiment. Hint: Lactobacillus is happiest at higher temperatures, so incubate at 85 degrees F or so. You might try commercially packaged lactic microbes such as Pediococcus Damnosis or one of the Brettanomyces wild yeasts. It will probably be best to pasteurized these errant cultures before adding them back to the main brew. Or, simply add a tablespoon of 80% lactic acid, sometimes available at homebrew shops. A simpler approach would be to use a pound or two of sour malt, available from many German maltsters."
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