Sour mash question

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Sour mash question

Unread postby Husker » Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:19 pm

Question on the sour mash distillers; Do they cook their grains when mashing or do they use the cold process w/backset? If they do cook, do they ferment on the grains?

Thanks
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Re: Sour mash question

Unread postby barturtle » Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:40 pm

The ferment is on the grains, it's much like a runny oatmeal.

The first part leaves me slightly confused though...the dry grains are added to hot water (corn first, with the small grains following as they are mashed at lower temps)...I hope that is the answer you are looking for.
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Re: Sour mash question

Unread postby Husker » Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:30 pm

barturtle wrote:The ferment is on the grains, it's much like a runny oatmeal.

The first part leaves me slightly confused though...the dry grains are added to hot water (corn first, with the small grains following as they are mashed at lower temps)...I hope that is the answer you are looking for.


You answered both of my question, thanks. You can run a sour mash without cooking the grains. That method is inefficient for getting all the good out of the grain, but on the other hand, your fuel bill is a lot less because you're not cooking the mash. You offset the inefficiency of cooking by adding backset (what makes sour mash a sour mash) to your grain and run three batches off the same grain. It's a trick the moonshiners do. I was curious if any of the distillers were doing the same.
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Re: Sour mash question

Unread postby gillmang » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:19 pm

But all distillers today use backset too, they use cookers for the grain and add backset, sometimes to the cookers, sometimes the fermenters.

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Re: Sour mash question

Unread postby barturtle » Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:42 pm

Three batches off the same grain? That seems like it would not make for a very flavorful spirit.
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Re: Sour mash question

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:00 pm

The use of backset is what make's it sour mash. If you don't use backset, it isn't sour mash.

Ground malted barley will dissolve pretty completely in warm water. Corn won't. It needs to be cooked to dissolve the starches. Malt whiskey makers don't need to cook their mash, but bourbon makers do. This has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not backset is used, so it's not a sour mash/sweet mash question. Whether or not you cook depends on the choice of grain.
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