Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 27
  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,541

    Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    There is a very interesting thread going over at ADI Forums about yeast making that has drifted into some interesting territory about sour mash and lactobacillus. I especially recommend the posts by Denver Distiller. The stuff in my posts you've seen before.

    Denver Distiller, for example, explained sour mash as a cheap and readily available source of acid to condition the mash pH and also a cheap source of nearly perfect food for the desired yeast strain. Likewise although there are no active lactobacillus in the backset, there is lactic acid.

    The other interesting idea being advanced is that the early association of geographically-specific yeast strains with the corn-based whiskey that came to be called bourbon gave Kentucky-based distillers an advantage over distillers who subsequently tried to make bourbon in other places.

  2. #2
    Irreverent One
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Heart of the Beaver State
    Posts
    2,395

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    An interesting discussion. Thanks for posting the link.

    I agree, at least from a consumer POV, that it would be "cool" for craft distilleries to do some experimentation with wild/local yeast strains. I think, on the other hand, that some newer operations that are still running on a narrow margin are justified in avoiding the risk associated with trying this (at least on a large scale). "Starving artist" is not a viable business model.
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  3. #3
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    NE OH
    Posts
    1,781

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    "early association of geographically-specific yeast strains"

    Was the result of the association attached to the final product or were the strains significantly different from other strains based on the locale where the yeast was sourced?

    I guess what I'm trying to ask is it possible for yeast to have terroir?

    Based on what I saw on the show Brew Masters when Dogfish Head went to Egypt and captured local yeast for their Ta Henket beer I'm going to assume the answer to the above is "yes".

    Fermentation was carried out by a native Egyptian saccharomyces yeast strain captured by Sam and Floris during a recent trip to Egypt.
    http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits.../ta-henket.htm

    EDIT: Doh! I just read the ADI thread and Denver Distiller just mentioned the above.
    Last edited by DeanSheen; 02-09-2011 at 15:28.
    ~Robert BTOTY #2 2009

    GBS Member - 2011 Indoctrination

  4. #4
    Irreverent One
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Heart of the Beaver State
    Posts
    2,395

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    Quote Originally Posted by DeanSheen View Post
    I guess what I'm trying to ask is it possible for yeast to have terroir?

    Based on what I saw on the show Brew Masters when Dogfish Head went to Egypt and captured local yeast for their Ta Henket beer I'm going to assume the answer to the above is "yes".
    I saw that episode. It was also referenced in the ADI discussion.

    Russian River Brewing has done a lot of expermentation with wild yeasts, presumably all from the northern California area. The list of stuff in their "Beatification Ale" is so scary that it is, for me, definitely in the "you go first" category.
    Last edited by CorvallisCracker; 02-09-2011 at 16:51.
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  5. #5

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    For whatever it's worth, I loved the discussion, and learned a lot! Mostly, that I'm now looking for distillate from "Denver Distiller"'s Leopold Bros., and why "Sherman" makes equipment and NOT whiskey!
    But, though Sherman seems like a technician in a would-be artisan's world, I am intrigued by his thesis that Tennessee is included in the triumvirate of yeast-blessed whiskey locales. And as you yourself noted, Chuck, in the thread, it's an interesting alternative to the limestone water rationale for bourbon's concentration in Kentucky.
    Bottom line: if I'm going to pay a premium for the 'craft' in craft distillery products, I'm looking for more than just a small-batch product using the same ingredients and methods that Four Roses, for example, uses. Capture and propagation of yeast seems to be one area that can distinguish a small player for the 'big boys'. Kinda odd -- and lazy (which doesn't recommend their product) -- that most of them resist.
    Tim

  6. #6
    Irreverent One
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Heart of the Beaver State
    Posts
    2,395

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon View Post
    Bottom line: if I'm going to pay a premium for the 'craft' in craft distillery products, I'm looking for more than just a small-batch product using the same ingredients and methods that Four Roses, for example, uses.
    There's a lot of things that one could do to accomplish that. Different mashbills (how about 51% rye 49% barley malt). Different type of still. How about a solera?

    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon View Post
    Capture and propagation of yeast seems to be one area that can distinguish a small player for the 'big boys'. Kinda odd -- and lazy (which doesn't recommend their product) -- that most of them resist.
    A very risky one. If you'd seen the referenced episode of Brew Masters, you'd know that the failed batch of "Chateau Jiahu" represented a couple of thousand dollars of investment going literally down the drain. Although an established company like Dogfish Head can absorb a loss like that, a smaller/newer operation probably could not. "Lazy" is both inaccurate and unfair.
    Last edited by CorvallisCracker; 02-09-2011 at 16:21.
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    175

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    I found the ADI thread really quite interesting. Straying from the topic at hand slightly, one thing that cropped up there is something I see a lot elsewhere: the distinction between purportedly "scientific" and "artistic" methods.

    A good friend is a commercial roaster for Detour, the best coffee I have tasted this side of Stumptown. Their sole café is located in the small town of Dundas, Ontario where, recently, another café (that shall remain nameless) set up shop. The proprietor of the new café has in the past spent much of his time "demonstrating" that his coffee is better than Detour's because his roaster has "16-point calibration" or some such thing. But that just means that his coffee will come out more consistently than someone lacking that technology, and more likely than not—given regression to the mean and all—consistently worse.

    I'm a research psychologist, and the instruments I use to measure behavior can vary from calculating province- and state-level homicide rates to the amount of money one individual gives to another to someone's subjective level of "emotional closeness" to a friend on a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. All of these are "scientific," and equally so, to the degree that they can be reliably used in the pursuit of science. To the degree that taste and smell are reliable senses, they too can be used to control the outcome of a product, including whiskey. There is nothing inherently "scientific" about the dry yeast method, and there is nothing inherently "craft" about the bucket method; they are both methods designed to constrain, or alternatively to seek, variability in existing yeast properties.

    I get what Chuck is on about, I really do. But I don't think it's about science and art; it's about trying to find something new, something unique. To the degree that a new yeast strain makes for a better, or at least equally enjoyable, alternative, this should be encouraged. Of course, as many have pointed out, the cost in terms of time and resources may be too damned prohibitive, but it's a nice idea nonetheless.
    "Good" may be subjective, but that doesn't mean it's arbitrary.

  8. #8
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Tallahassee
    Posts
    1,364

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    Thanks for the link Chuck. One of the things that stood out for me was the post that contained the scan of an old account of how the distilleries in Maryland using the same Indian Corn weren't able to reproduce the Kentucky flavors.

    Does anyone use Indian Corn today? Don't the majors use genetically enhanced notch corn with a much higher starch (to make more alcohol per pound) content than old style Indian Corn?

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Louisville, Ky.
    Posts
    719

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    This is an interesting concept, but I wonder if it was the superior yeast or the superior ability of the people raising the yeast. I have read that a true distiller in the old days knew when to keep or reject a yeast. There are a lot of yeast strains in Kentucky and not all of them make good whiskey.

    Mike Veach

  10. #10
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Swaziland, Africa
    Posts
    1,479

    Re: Yeast Making and Sour Mash

    Quote Originally Posted by sailor22 View Post
    Don't the majors use genetically enhanced notch corn with a much higher starch (to make more alcohol per pound) content than old style Indian Corn?
    I have been told by a friend of mine that hauls grain that if a distillery rejects a truck of corn because its outside of specs that they take it to a food producer who makes things like cereal. Take it for what its worth.
    Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present by calling into existence the possibility of something better.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Is sour mash a bourbon?
    By eneely in forum New to Straightbourbon
    Replies: 40
    Last Post: 10-18-2009, 14:01
  2. Recipes for sweet mash and sour mash
    By bourbonv in forum History
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: 11-14-2006, 19:51
  3. Making Yeast
    By cowdery in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 04-29-2004, 20:30
  4. Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash
    By Paradox in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 69
    Last Post: 10-20-2003, 07:24
  5. Dunder/ Sour Mash
    By porgymcnasty in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 05-21-2002, 20:54

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top