All grain turned vinegar

All styles of whiskey. This is for all-grain mashes.

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Biker Mark
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All grain turned vinegar

Post by Biker Mark » Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:25 am

I mashed in a high rye AG mash.
5.5# cracked corn
3# malted rye (ground)
1.5# 6 row malted barley (milled)

Used RO water, added 1/4 tsp gypsum to adjust ph to 5.

Cooked corn 90 minutes at 190°.
Reduced to 150 and added malted Rye and Barley.
Held 145° for 3 hours, cooled to 85° and pitched 1 tbsp red star yeast.
Fermented on the grain in a 6.5 gallon Ale Pail.
It capped up within and hour, and kept a thick foamy grain cap with activity the entire time, but never the vigorous yeast activity i expected.
The cap fell after about 8 days and the mash tasted slightly vinegar. It still had yeast activity, bubbling.
I checked SG and it was 1.015. Not dry, so I gave it 1 more day. SG went up! It read 1.02 the 2nd day and yeast still bubbling.
I dumped the mash and decided to ask for help before I waste another mash.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by Birrofilo » Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:58 am

Vinegar is a sign of infection by Acetobacter aceti.
This means that either you did not use a bubbler, so as to prevent contact of ambient air with the broth, or you did not boil your mash, which many as I understand do in order to carry over enzymes from the mash to the broth, but that carries the risk of unwanted creatures (lactobacilli, vinegar bacteria, wild yeasts) banqueting on your wort.

Contamination is the great enemy of the beer maker.
Whisky makers take liberties with it by aiming at a "sour mash" with various sorts of spurious proliferations.

Your whisky might end up excellent or awful because of this. Sourness might create many aromatic esters, or excess vinegar might taint the flavour of your product.

Wild fermentations carry risks, and can also carry rewords.

Don't throw away anything! Distill and see what happens.

I have an infected beer at the moment which never ends fermentation (went from 1,040 to 1,002 two days ago). I am going to bottle it when the density is stabilized, and then see what happens. No vinegar at all, I suspect it's a wild yeast or some lactic bacterium. Might get an interesting acid flair. If it is undrinkable, I will distill it this summer.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by GCB3 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:25 am

My first AG mash got an infection. By the end of the fermentation it smelled like pickled okra . Lots of smart people on here said run it! I believe someone also said that bacteria will begin to consume alcohol resulting in the FG increasing. That was the case for me.

So I ran it , it came out great, and it is now sitting on Oak and I can’t wait to bottle it.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by stillanoob » Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:31 am

It may or may not come out, I leave that to folks here with greater experience. However, if you don't want to continue to have the issue, I would sanitize the ever lovin' crap out of all your equipment with StarSan or similar. From my brewing days my protocol is to wash with hot water and soap and then StarSan after every use and let the equipment dry without rinsing. Then before use I rinse well and then use an iodine no rinse sanitizer. New equipment is washed and sanitized before use.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by still_stirrin » Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:44 am

Biker Mark,
Are you sure the taste was vinegar? Remember, as a ferment approaches attenuation, it will taste sour/tart. And that is the result of acids in the ferment from the yeast as the sugars are consumed and the alcohol is produced. So, you might have mistaken sour for vinegar (which is acetic acid and certainly tastes sour).

Typically the vinegar bug, carried by flies, will attack a ferment after the sugars have been consumed, even when the distiller’s beer is alcoholic and quite sour/acidic. Your recipe and process leaves me suspicious that it wasn’t really vinegar you tasted...just an attenuate ferment.

As for the rise in the gravity reading, I suspect that the temperature may have dropped as the fermentation activity subsided. The cooler liquid would be slightly more dense as a result and it would measure with a higher SG. When you checked the gravities, did you also measure the temperatures? I suggest you do so from now on so you can temperature correct the measurements.
ss
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Biker Mark
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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by Biker Mark » Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:11 am

I did sanitize everything as I always do.
No airlock, I just set a bucket lid on top to let gas out and keep bugs and dust out. Its an indoor fermentation.
Possibly 8 degrees difference from 1 reading to the next.
I think your on to something SS.
It smelled fine but tasted vinegar. I may have dumped good mash.
I will take everyone's advice including using an airlock, and run it next time. 👍
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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by GCB3 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:42 am

Grains can bring infections into the mash with them. Lots of folks here use a wort chiller to quickly drop the mash temperature from The mid to high 140° range down to pitch temperature quickly to minimize the time the infections have to grow. The idea is to get the yeast healthy and working before the infections take over. I have not had an infection since adding a chiller to my process. That doesn’t mean I’m not gonna have another one! :mrgreen:
I’m also not experienced enough yet to know that infections can be good things!

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by Tummydoc » Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:31 pm

Biker, airlocks and sanitizer are necessary for beer, but not for distillation. Jack Daniel's ferments in open vats. If you think it may be 3 weeks before you are going to strip a wash you could consider an airlock, although I dont. I only use sanitary technique for beer or wine. I've had rare lacto blooms in a whiskey mash and run it anyway. Lactobacillus will consume ethanol so if I see a bloom I try to run it sooner than later.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by Saltbush Bill » Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:36 am

still_stirrin wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:44 am
Are you sure the taste was vinegar? Remember, as a ferment approaches attenuation, it will taste sour/tart.
:thumbup: @ SS......I think a lot of new distillers make this mistake, the sour /tart taste is mistaken for a wash / mash gone wrong when in fact its quite normal for many washes
stillanoob wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:31 am
I would sanitize the ever lovin' crap out of all your equipment with StarSan or similar. From my brewing days my protocol is to wash with hot water and soap and then StarSan after every use and let the equipment dry without rinsing. Then before use I rinse well and then use an iodine no rinse sanitizer. New equipment is washed and sanitized before use.
Stilla you beer guys worry to much.....I suggest you take a look at this link http://www.rumgallery.com/travel--life/ ... ious-photo which shows a series of photos taken Hampden Estate, they make a fairly good rum there I'm told.
Click on the arrows top right of photo to see the next photo in the set.
Personally my fermenting and stilling gear hasn't seen soap or sanitizer in years, it might have seen a bit of hot water and a quick squirt with the garden hose once or twice in that time.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by dukethebeagle120 » Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:34 am

still_stirrin wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:44 am
Biker Mark,
Are you sure the taste was vinegar? Remember, as a ferment approaches attenuation, it will taste sour/tart. And that is the result of acids in the ferment from the yeast as the sugars are consumed and the alcohol is produced. So, you might have mistaken sour for vinegar (which is acetic acid and certainly tastes sour).

Typically the vinegar bug, carried by flies, will attack a ferment after the sugars have been consumed, even when the distiller’s beer is alcoholic and quite sour/acidic. Your recipe and process leaves me suspicious that it wasn’t really vinegar you tasted...just an attenuate ferment.

As for the rise in the gravity reading, I suspect that the temperature may have dropped as the fermentation activity subsided. The cooler liquid would be slightly more dense as a result and it would measure with a higher SG. When you checked the gravities, did you also measure the temperatures? I suggest you do so from now on so you can temperature correct the measurements.
ss
Vinegar don't happen that fast
It takes some time
Sour aka vinegary taste means a ready distillers beer
People get over zealous when it comes to a finished beer
Run it.
Oh ya and listen to stillstirin
He put you on the good road
its better to think like a fool but keep your mouth shut,then to open ur mouth and have it confirmed

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by The Baker » Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:37 pm

I made, unintentionally, some pretty good vinegar a few years ago.
From a fruit wash, mainly apricot.
Not much of it left now.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by Farside » Sat Apr 25, 2020 7:21 pm

You may have had lactobacillus. It's present on your skin and likely came in on the corn.

It produces lactic acid. So the wash will taste sour but not smell like vinegar. Some beers as well as sour mash corn whiskey actually promote this.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by Swbrewers » Tue Apr 28, 2020 7:14 pm

Yep, probably not vinegar. Since I didn't taste it, I couldn't tell you what it was. One thing I might do is to increase the amount of yeast at pitching. I always use a starter. Under most circumstances, it is almost impossible to pitch too much yeast. Always get your beer down to temperature ASAP and pitch. Get the controlled fermentation going before something bad starts to happen. Good luck next batch. And unless the wash is just God awful, run it. It might make great hand sanitizer.

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Re: All grain turned vinegar

Post by jonnys_spirit » Wed Apr 29, 2020 5:02 am

Contrary to popular advise I have always let my corn mash cool to malting temp over 12+ hrs and then same to cool to pitch temp. With the brute insulated it takes a while but I feel that the extended time is beneficial. I’ve had some infections but run it anyway.

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