From the HBD Archive
From:!tessi!nosun!! (Jeff Frane)
Subject: Foaming sourdough brews
Date: 1992-04-13 17:58:26 GMT

> Date: 10 Apr 1992 13:13 EDT
> From: (dave ballard)
> Subject: using sourdough culture in brew
> Okay, someone tell me if this is sick or something. A friend of mine
> (actually, the great Oz of the exploding carboy) has a sourdough
> culture that he's had in the fridge for about 4 years. He just scoops
> out what he needs whenever he wants to do a loaf of sourdough bread.
> The stuff is pretty scary looking, in fact if you stare at it long
> enough it starts to breathe. Anyway, I was thinking about doing
> a small batch (~1g) of ale and throwing in a handful of the sourdough
> stuff to try to make some sort of bizarre lambic.
> So what do you think? Should I have my brewing toys taken away from
> me? Am I onto something great? Will it grow hair on my tongue?
> Will it make me a REAL HOMEBREWER? I saw someone on r.c.b mention the
> idea today, so at least I'm not alone...

I can't get you the reference on this since it's in a cookbook at my
ex-wife's (Yaaaaaah!), but apparently the Alaskan goldminers
(sourdoughs) use to take great care of their cultures, keeping them in
their shirts on really cold nights. They also occasionally used them to
make beer (?) although I don't know what they used for malt (syrup?. At
any rate, even the miners rated this stuff pretty low; one anecdote
had a bunch brewing some sourdough beer up in a barrel and drinking it
out of the same barrel. One fellow toppled in while trying to dipper
out the last bit; his buddies were too befuddled to haul him out and he
died. Better stick to small batches! Seems to me sourdough culture
includes one or more yeasts and an array of bacteria; if it made good
beer then you could achieve "lambics" in places like Alaska, San
Francisco and Poland, where the sourdough combination exists in the

> From: Jacob Galley <>
> Subject: Killer head!
> Another question:
> Have noticed a tendency for my beers to produce a rediculous amount of
> foam as they mature. My latest example is a light ginger lager which
> I bottled about three months ago. At this point, if I pour it (out of
> the fridge) into a glass at room temperature, *ALL* of it turns to
> foam! Into a chilled glass, and I get less than an inch of beer and the
> rest is foam. I resorted to drinking out of the bottle, but as soon as
> it hits my palate it turns to FOAM. The CO2 flies out of solution so
> fast I can barely hold it in my mouth! Also, if I simply wait
> patiently for beer to collect underneath the foam in the glass, it is
> quite flat. And this used to be my best batch!
> So let me describe my technique. I am still a lowly extract brewer.
> In all my beers so far I have added a third of a stick of brewer's
> licorice (30 minute boil or so). I boil about two gallons of wort for
> a five gallon batch, and pour it into a carboy with two gallons
> of cold water, and then fill it to the top with cold water. I let the
> trub fall out over night, rack, and pitch.
> I know there's lots of room for improvement in my procedure, and when
> I have the time, energy and money all at once, I will improve. Until
> then I am asking you-all out there "Are there any specific
> adjustments I can make that will prevent this weird heading behavior?"
> Thanks,
> Jake.
The one thing you don't talk about is your fermentation and bottling
procedure, and this is probably where the problem lies. Sounds to me
like your beer is simply overcarbonated from (a) too much priming sugar;
or (b) bottling too soon. Trying racking the beer when the primary
fermentation is done and letting it clear somewhat in the secondary
before bottling. When I was having trouble with overcarbonation, this
latter step helped tremendously and also resulted in a lot less sediment
in the bottle.

The problem might have something to do with the brewer's licorice you're
adding as well, but never having used it I don't know for sure. Why do
you add this? Quite frankly, I don't know _any_ brewers, amateur or
professional who use licorice. You might try leaving it out entirely.

> From: (Jack Schmidling)
> To: Homebrew Digest
> Fm: Jack Schmidling
> >From: (Bryan Gros)
> >Subject: brewing definition
> >Why is making tea usually called "brewing"? no fermentation involved.
> Fundamental to the brewing process is STEEPING and that is how tea is
> prepared and how mashing extracts sugar from malt.
> Fermentation is NOT integral to brewing, it is an optional additional step.
> without boiling & had no problems or dissapointments. Has anyone done a side

Well, one of the marvelous things about the English language is the way
we can bend it. It's pretty clear from the complete definition given in
Webster's that it all depends on which part you choose: "to prepare (as
beer or ale) by steeping, boiling and fermentation or by infusion and
fermentation." It's clear that _here_ the common denominator is
_fermentation_, not steeping. The fact that the same word is used to
describe the process of makin tea doesn't mean that "steeping" is the
root of brewing. Let's not scramble around trying to find the
connection, for instance, between "posting" a letter, "posting" a new
lieutenant, and "posting" on a horse.

- --Jeff Frane

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