Using Backset

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Using Backset

Postby OldSpottsford » Sat May 18, 2013 8:10 am

How much backset should I add to a six-gallon bourbon mash and when should I add it, before mashing or after, before pitching?

Thanks for your advice.

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Re: Using Backset

Postby mash rookie » Sat May 18, 2013 8:33 am

After mashing. Before pitching. Single adds to AG mash will help it work off like a rocket. If continuing with multiple generations backset can become too acidic and slow fermentation.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby OldSpottsford » Sat May 18, 2013 9:26 am

Great, thanks. Can you elaborate a bit on "single adds to AG mash", not sure what you mean here?
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Re: Using Backset

Postby mash rookie » Sat May 18, 2013 9:39 am

OldSpottsford wrote:Great, thanks. Can you elaborate a bit on "single adds to AG mash", not sure what you mean here?


Most yeasts like a slightly acidic environment. An all grain mash is sweet and will benefit from a little backset as it is typically acidic.

Commonly used with the UJSSM recipe that is a continuing fermentation cycle sugar head, backset can become too acidic quickly and need PH adjustment.

Good luck.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby OldSpottsford » Sat May 18, 2013 11:07 am

Got it, MR, thanks. How much for five gallons of wash - 1/2 gal.?
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Re: Using Backset

Postby stillin » Sat May 18, 2013 8:52 pm

Minimum 25% for a sour mash whiskey as UJ says. .25x5= 1.25 gals. minimum. I alternate from 1.25 to 2 gals for a 6 gal wash. After 5 gens I clean buckets and start over with fresh corn, yeast and backseat from previous runs. That's just me, to each his own.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby OldSpottsford » Sun May 19, 2013 1:13 pm

Never realized it took that much. Real helpful, thanks!
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Re: Using Backset

Postby CuWhistle » Sun May 19, 2013 1:39 pm

OldSpottsford wrote:Never realized it took that much. Real helpful, thanks!


Up to 25% at first or if you are only doing a couple of generations. After a few times you can use less as it drops the pH too far. As already explained you either need to adjust pH with a buffer or just use less backset in later generations.

I was a bit confused by this and kept using 25% until recently when I became aware that it is really used for pH control more so than flavour. I started to have a little trouble with acidity and slow fermentation so, after consulting here, just started to use less rather than fluff around with buffer.

For a 6 gallon wash just dropping a couple of egg shells in will raise pH quite effectively I found, but I'm doing larger amounts now and don't eat that many eggs. Dry eggshells are apparently 95% CaCO3. Shell grit from the pet store would also work quite well if you don't want to use straight chemical buffer.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby stillin » Sun May 19, 2013 3:19 pm

I never run more than 5 gens and have never had a problem with ph but ferment does start to slow slightly about the 4th gen so if I carried it any further I would most certainly have to make a ph adjustment. But ain't never carried it no further so its all good!
Last edited by stillin on Sun May 19, 2013 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby UtahViking » Sun May 19, 2013 9:21 pm

On my recent rum run by the 3rd gen I was worried that it was getting to acidic so I threw in some bicarb. However lacking test strips I think I overdid it and the ferment stalled. The end product still came out great just a little lower abv than I had planned.

Long story short its worth investing in some test strips to keep everything happy
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Re: Using Backset

Postby Dnderhead » Sun May 19, 2013 10:53 pm

" I threw in some bicarb"
if it was sodium bicarb, yeast don't like that either ,that is the sodium part.
most times you can git away with some but if to much it can slow or stall.
sodium in yeast bread works as a "regulator" that is it slows the yeast and the yeast
produce small "burps" instead of large "burps" thus you have smaller holes in the bread.
you don't have to worry about holes in your wash/mash so don't put it in there.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby UtahViking » Wed May 22, 2013 12:25 pm

Dnderhead wrote:" I threw in some bicarb"
if it was sodium bicarb, yeast don't like that either ,that is the sodium part.
most times you can git away with some but if to much it can slow or stall.
sodium in yeast bread works as a "regulator" that is it slows the yeast and the yeast
produce small "burps" instead of large "burps" thus you have smaller holes in the bread.
you don't have to worry about holes in your wash/mash so don't put it in there.


Yeah I knew it wasn't the best choice but it was all I had in my moment of need and I did use to much and it slowed/stalled. Luckily it fermented out pretty well anyway and I got a pretty good product still.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby Jimbo » Wed May 22, 2013 12:32 pm

Not sure why folks here are saying its only for the yeast, and to add after mashing. Bourbon is done as a sourmash for a reason. And its called sourmash because its a sour mash. Beta amylase enzymes like 5.2-5.6 pH. Water is 7. And while 100% malt can usually lower the pH enough for single malts, if you have good water, corn cannot. So your conversion will suffer with corn recipes (Bourbon) if you dont sour the MASH.
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Re: Using Backset

Postby Jimbo » Wed May 22, 2013 3:40 pm

As far as how much, im getting better conversion with 20% than 10%. No pH meter, so pure experimentation. Backset is some funky ass interesting flavorful stuff. The Rum heads LOVE the shit, call it dunder, and let it 'grow' in warm 'dunderpits' for all manner of oddities to thrive in. Thats more hard core than I can swing, yet, but in general, that backset from your AG stripper run is loaded with flavor and the acid you need to sour up your bourbon mash. Good stuff that.
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