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  1. #1
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    another reason for the sour mash process

    In learning how to operate our new beer still I have found yet another reason you have to make sour mash whiskey. And this could be yet another reason it was started and is still in use today. Sweet mash does not like a beer still. Foams up too bad on the trays, I ran a sweet mash yesterday starting up on a product so I had no backset for it. Never will I do that again, it ran but gace me fits the entire time. In all of the old tech books I have read, and in talking to some retired distillers, they say especially on rye you want plenty of backset. Will keep it from foaming and what I term bucking in the still. But I never knew just how true it was till yesterday. Intersting note I learned recently, MGP or the old Seagrams plant always alternates or used to rye mash with a bourbon mash. This lets the backset from the bourbon mash be used in the rye mash, the corn oils reduce foaming better than rye. And no doubt the bourbon backset adds flavor to the rye and the rye backset adds flavor to the bourbon. Whiskey making is an amazing process, learn something everyday. Jim Rutledge always says, remember you are still learning. He is right.

  2. #2
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    Would that maybe be the reason Woodford Reserve was willing to do a sweet mash is because they use pot stills? Also by a beer still are you referring to a column still or a combination still like the experimental use still at BT? It's now called the Col E H Taylor still.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  3. #3
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    Thanks for the info, Tom. I had always read that the primary reason for sour mash was to regulate the acidity of each batch. Maybe that was a fortunate outcome of just trying to control distillation. Either way, we get to benefit from that discovery and it sounds like you're having an interesting time rediscovering it!
    -Brian-

    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."
    -Agent Kay

  4. #4
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    That is amazing stuff Tom, thanks.

  5. #5
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    another reason for the sour mash process

    Tom, one of the reasons I like this forum is getting info like yours on the actual process. Keep up the reports.


    Mike

  6. #6
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    Tom, thanks for your posts - I love to hear the details from someone practicing the art.

    There are anti-foaming agents that can be used in wine fermentations for yeasts that produce high levels of polysaccharides (which contribute to the foaming - but you want these polysaccharides as they contribute to mouthfeel, but they can "foam over" if not controlled). I think they basically reduce the surface tension to reduce the amount of foam. Is a product like this allowed when distilling the beer?
    Mark

  7. #7
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    Great info! Thanks, Tom.

    Quote Originally Posted by p_elliott View Post
    Also by a beer still are you referring to a column still or a combination still like the experimental use still at BT?
    This has me curious as well.

  8. #8
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    There was a great article in a past issue of Whisky Advocate magazine about the sour mash process. There is a whole lot more to it than just keeping the PH level down. Fascinating read if you can find it.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  9. #9
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphanumeric View Post
    Great info! Thanks, Tom
    This has me curious as well.
    It is a twelve inch column with a thumper. Great vidoe on YouTube we put up last week, my dumbass cannot link it though. Look it up, unlike the big ones in Kentucky, ours has windows, so you can see the mash flow in the still. Very bourbon nerdy. We are the only micro running one, makes fine white dog, no computers either. The weather gives it fits, it is basically a big barometer, so if barometric pressure changes, you have to adjust stuff to keep it running right. I am told the old still operators' before computers, could tell you a day ahead what the weather would be. Amazing art bass been lost to computers and flavor. You can use anti foam, but I disdain anything like that in our products. I will say, the bourbon white dog at 106 proof off the still you can drink like water.

  10. #10
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    Re: another reason for the sour mash process

    For the benefit of our readers Tom would you elaborate a bit on anti form?

 

 

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