I don't know how prolific the other brewers here are, but I probably fall near the top as a home brewer. I brewed all grain batch # 119 in slightly under 2 years tonight. More than a brew a week average. What I do know is that things occasionally go wrong, unless Murphy stays away from you. More often than not, it's mistakes and brain farts, and you have nobody to blame but yourself. What can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible moment. My 78 minute no boil / no chill brew fell victim to one of these "Murphy incidents". I pitched fresh top crop from an adjacent fermenter, which as it turned out had a lacto infection I had not yet detected. There was no pellicle, no indication whatever that I had a problem, and that brew, tasted from the spigot appeared fine at that point. At a later date I discovered it was sour, actually a rather nice lacto sour, though an unintended wild sour. I'm NOT squeamish about wild sours, having brewed things like kombucha and kefir, which are both basically open cultures. I don't believe many if any organisms that can survive in beer are harmful to humans.
The remedy in this case was to monitor the brew, which was a very pale cream ale, and was already into secondary and not yet exhibiting sourness. This was a slow growing culture. I monitored it daily. I started detecting slight sourness at about day 11, and at day 13, it was perfect, so I decided to "freeze it" there. I then racked into my large stainless steel pressure cooker, and pasteurized it at about 170F, heating it to that temp and letting it slow cool.
The result........... a lovely if unintended "sour cream ale" which exhibits a distinctive "shandy" character, as this bug throws a distinctive citrus flavor. It's subtle enough that you could mistake it for something originating from the hops, and in fact a couple of people who have tasted it asked me what hops I used.
I'm NOT interested in repeating the process........the pressure cooker not something I want to use in brewing, nor do I want sours in my fermenters. I'm doing my damnedest to eradicate this bug, and expect to get it done, as the offending fermenters are currently submerged completely in starsan and will remain that way for a week.......fresh starsan. Spigots are disassembled and submerged also.
Now here is the problem........ I absolutely love the product. Other than the slight chill haze, which effects appearance slightly, it's one of the best light bodied summer type beers I've ever brewed. It has that distinct shandy flavor that nobody who didn't have experience with lacto sours would identify as being a lacto. A few days more, and it would not have been subtle. It is by far the best sour I've ever brewed. I was tempted to keep the culture, and probably should have to use as an innoculant for sour mash or kettle sour, but it's a very slow acting bug.
The challenge now is to try to figure out how to control a sour mash to achieve the same effect.... without blending. In the past, I've blended to achieve the results I wanted with sours. The batteries in my PH meter are dead, and I don't have any LR44 batteries. I'm tempted instead to get some antifreeze PH test strips from the local auto parts store and see what kind of reading I get on this brew, then attempt a sour mash, stopping it at the same PH.
I really would like to duplicate my Serendipity Cream Ale Shandy ............. anybody have experience with controlling sour mash?