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  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    And also to lower the PH Hence the name " Sour Mash" the yeast work more efficently in a more acidic environment.

  2. #12
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    This factor (the PH you mention) may be the main one. I was just reading in Byrn's book on distillation (1875) that the unfermented sugars in spent beer can't be used again, he says they are "gummy", they won't ferment and he suggests that spent beer be used as fertilizer! Interesting that he seems to show no knowledge of what James Crow pioneered 50 years before. Then too this is a Euro-centric work which seems to not take much notice of what Kentucky was doing in distillation.. Maybe a case of (to mix metaphors) .. sour grapes?

    Gary

  3. #13
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Well, I do know that the famous Czechoslovakian pilsner, Pilsner Urqell, claims to have maintained the same continuous yeast culture for over 1300 years! First, they are European and second, they have been doing it for a very long time.

    Tim

  4. #14
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Well, I do know that the famous Czechoslovakian pilsner, Pilsner Urqell, claims to have maintained the same continuous yeast culture for over 1300 years! First, they are European and second, they have been doing it for a very long time.
    Yes, but for beermaking it's a different process. In distillation, you actually boil the beer so the alcohol vapors climb your distillation tower. In beermaking, you can simply bottle your wort, then put fresh wort over the old yeast cake...keeping it vital.

  5. #15
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Well, yes and no. Breweries have to revive their yeast about every 5 brews else it would go haywire/sour. They do this by reference to a pure culture maintained in labs (a fairly modern innovation). That, or they get new yeast (if there is a total yeast failure for some reason) from one of their brewing neighbours, a gentlemanly practice that endures in the alcohol businesses..

    Czech pilsener was invented in the 1840's as a golden bottom-fermented beer. Before that beers were generally murky dark and top-fermented at ambient (warm) temperatures. So the Urquel yeast had to be new (not the brewing tradition, but the yeast). The major beer type before its invention (and historically in German lands and still in the U.K. and Belgium until recently) was ale - dark top-fermented beer which could only be made in the autumn until the spring. Cold (bottom) fermentation was perfected in the 1800's in a number of locales in Middle and Eastern Europe including Pilsen. So, before the new era of cultured yeasts working at cold temperatures assisted by mechanical chilling, beers were much more variable in flavour than the new beers such as Pilsener Urquel (and Munich lager, Danish Carlsberg, etc.). So the PIlsen industrial bottom yeast was new and was certainly helped by scientific savvy coming onstream in the mid-1800's (e.g. Pasteur in France). Very relevant to distilling. Old time distiller's yeasts likely were exotic but variable. This is why (I think) Lincoln Henderson in the current Malt Magazine insists whiskey today is overall better than back then: there is better control, in yeast anyway, and he mentions yeast as a vital flavor contributor.

    Gary

  6. #16
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Well, yes and no.
    Sorry, but yes and yes. All the song and dance you posted about how beer is made doesn't change a thing about beer vs. distilled spirits. And yes, you're absolutely correct about having to correct the yeast every 5 or so batches--that's what's called mutation. You can't trust your old yeast strain after 2 or 3 batches.

    The same doesn't hold for distilled spirits--the wort is BOILED before it's fractionated in a column or otherwise--you can't just decide at random to recycle the strain.

  7. #17
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Sorry, I wasn't talking about whether beer is boiled to make spirit, of course, it is and sorry my post didn't distinguish clearly what I meant.

    I meant that I doubted Pilsener Urquel maintained the same yeast culture for hundreds of years.

    As for beer being boiled to enter a fractionating column, before it is boiled, I would think fresh yeast can be, and is, removed from the beer to add to the next mix of backset and fresh mash. Removed before the boil, that is.

    By the way my opinions are just that. I studied (as a hobby) beer for 30 years before learning about whiskey, and I am happy to learn more anytime, where I am wrong or don't know the area.

    Gary

  8. #18
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    While reading posts on here I have read no current US distilleries use this process. Anyone have any information to share about this? I see that Chuck has previously written about this process and did make mention that no distilleries use this process.
    I seem to have read that no current STRAIGHT WHISKEY distilleries use a sweet mash process. I have heard that some other US (e.g. single malt or grain neutral spirit) whiskey producers may use a sweet mash process. I don't think I've seen this in writing though, so I can't say which ones might do so.

  9. #19
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    I seem to have read that no current STRAIGHT WHISKEY distilleries use a sweet mash process.
    That's pretty much what started this whole controversy---Mark seems to think that BT uses a sweet mash process. Their public-relations video says it's a sour mash process, although he's 100% correct that their website cites a sweet-mash process.


  10. #20
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    I'm beginning to think more and more that they do use the sour mash process and their site just is not very clear on it after hearing others opinions on the matter. I am going to write someone over at Buffalo Trace I know and see what they say for clarification. I'll be sure to post back, probably sometime tomorrow, with the final verdict straight from their mouth haha.

 

 

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