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  1. #1
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    Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...ight=old+tubIn addition to above mentioned article.I 've read the book of pacult and he also speaks of the sour mash.Now can Crow claim to be the inventor but can't it be possible that Beam already sold this sour mash and that Crow actually claims the recipe on a later date. So many things in history are claimed by persons who aren't the actual inventor or discoverer.Columbus wa'sn't the first to dicover America , the Vikings did. But Columbus gets the credit. See what i mean.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    I stand by what I wrote in the original thread. "Old Jake Beam Sour Mash" is a name someone came up with recently, for fun I think. It may even have been Paul, but there is no reason to believe Jacob Beam was using sour mash. There's also not any real documentation attributing it to Crow and I have seen another distilling contemporary of Crow credited, either as a collaborator or as simultaneous but independent discovery.

    No patent was ever applied for.

    Gary Gillman, who knows the old texts as well as anyone, has I think found some references to something that sounds like sour mash, but it's from a similar period, i.e., the mid-19th century and not the last 18th.

    Will also know that its use was well-established by the end of the Civil War and it has been standard (though not universal) practice ever since.

    Certainly no one associated with Beam--either Beam the company or Beam the family--has ever seriously suggested that Jacob Beam was responsible for any significant innovations. They merely claim that he was a very early distiller and that there is an unbroken line of family distillers that begins with him and ends with Fred Noe and Craig Beam, as the family's two active distillers today (along with Craig's father, Parker).
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-24-2008 at 14:14.

  3. #3
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    Let me check on this, I recall letters that were found, I think by Mike Veach, suggesting that small-scale distillers were using backset in the mash by the early 1800's. I am quite sure I've not read anything that suggests usage of same before then, which does not mean it did not occur, of course.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-24-2008 at 19:31.

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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    Ok, reasonable explanation.I await your reply , Gary.Can those letters been seen somewhere online?
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  5. #5
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    I'll see what I can find. I suspect that the practice of using spent beer for part of the mash or in the fermentation stage goes back quite a ways, probably even to Europe since it would make sense to do this e.g., to save energy alone. The discovery that pH levels were favorably impacted resulting in a more consistent product was probably fortuitous. I've always understood that the claim related to Dr. Crow (if that is what it was) was not so much the invention of the process but rather applying it in a methodical way, and ditto his use of the new charred barrel. Anyhow, I'll try to find these letters, which deal with an artisan process and describe two ways of distilling whiskey (sweet and sour mashing), I thought they were mentioned on the board here some time back, but if not, it may be elsewhere. I'll check.

    Gary

  6. #6
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    Below is an extract of a post on this board from later in 2003 from Mike Veach, a bourbon researcher and historian, who is a member of this board and can be contacted for further information. (Perhaps he will see this exchange). Mike I know provided online transcriptions of the letter from 1818, but perhaps not on SB. Anyway this post is helpful and we can see that the reference is not from the 1700's, however one could infer I think that the practices mentioned were followed by some home distillers from before 1800. On the other hand, if what was done in 1818 as sour mashing was not the modern method of sour mashing referred to by Mike, then perhaps the modern method did start in the 1800's. I'd have to think though that some distillers in some places used backset in the mash before 1800, it just seems too likely to me not to have happened.

    Gary

    "[/I] have a copy from 1818 of a pair of recipes from a woman distiller in Kentucky. On one side is a recipe for sweet mash distiller's beer, the other, a recipe for sour mash. In this recipe sour mash was a process more similar to sourdough bread. In modern times the process has changed. By the time the mash has been distilled the yeast is dead and the spent beer is used only to recreate the best environment for the yeast strain to grow in by helping to match the ph of the mash. I suspect that on a start up situation most distillers will use some other acid in their mash to get the proper ph thus making it a "sour mash". I know Chris Morris stated at L&G that that is what they do for the whiskey they are distilling for Woodford Reserve.

    Mike Veach"
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-25-2008 at 06:49.

  7. #7
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    You can find the 1818 recipe for sour mash/ sweet mash whiskey ayt the Kentucky Historical Society. I think the collection is is the Catherine Carpenter collection, but I would have to check my notes.

    Mike Veach

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    Smile Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    That ain't exactly nextdoor for me, Mike :-)But thanks anyway.Bas
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  9. #9
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    That 1818 document is what I remember too. Gary explains it well, in that there are multiple justifications for using back set in a primitive and isolated distilling environment, many of them unrelated to pH. One thing that seems safe to say is that they didn't refer to it as "sour mash," and they likely used it some times and didn't at other times, depending on the circumstances, but in 1795 nobody was talking about sour mash, hence the phrase "Old Jake Beam Sour Mash" is fanciful and of recent coinage. The "old" part would also be questionable, because frontier whiskey in 1795 was unaged, hence not old in any sense.

    Dr. Crow is also generally credited (though none of this can be verified) with using sour mash, charred barrels and advanced sanitation practices routinely. We can verify that his whiskey was known by name and considered exceptionally good.

    The sanitation practices are as important as the other two innovations, since a virtually sterile fermentation environment is essential for preventing the influence of unwanted microorganisms. Assuming the credit given to Dr. Crow is accurate, he didn't come up with anything new, he just standardized a set of practices that were known but practiced irregularly, and his standardized set of practices ultimately became the industry standard.

  10. #10
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    Re: Old Jake Beam Sour Mash

    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchie66 View Post
    http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...ight=old+tubIn addition to above mentioned article.I 've read the book of pacult and he also speaks of the sour mash.Now can Crow claim to be the inventor but can't it be possible that Beam already sold this sour mash and that Crow actually claims the recipe on a later date. So many things in history are claimed by persons who aren't the actual inventor or discoverer.Columbus wa'sn't the first to dicover America , the Vikings did. But Columbus gets the credit. See what i mean.
    Well, for the record, there were already people in the Americas before any Vikings or Columbus or Bristol fishermen or Madoc or any other old world natives. So, the credit should probably go to those first people.
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