Sourdough Starter goes 'Boozy?'
I started a new starter about seven days ago, using an 'offhand' method that's always worked reliably for me in the past to produce a starter with the classic yeasty/sour/yummy smell, stable and robust, with good rising characteristics. Now the same method has produced a starter that seems to rise very well and smells great, but more like someone took the top off a Calvados still: lushly, almost 'ether-y' fruity-sweet and clearly kicking out a (probably) flammable mix of ethanol and acetones.
I started with organic rye flour and tap water, 1:1, and used a scrubbed-and-dishwasher-sterile (i.e., mostly sterile, but not surgically so) glass, lidded container (old pickle jar, clean metal lid, holes poked with a nail). Discarded 3/4 and fed with more rye for three days at 12-hour intervals. Ambient temp was on the high side - maybe 85-90 degrees. But the stuff was bubbling up in the predictable way and smelled like a rye flour starter at first -- i.e., normal, with that harsh rye edge.
Once I was seeing doubling in small amounts, I began feeding with white flour (KA bread flour), starting at roughly the same "pour off 3/4ths, add 1:1" proportions and intervals, slowly backing off on the liquid to make for a 'doughier' starter, which seems to produce (for me) a more sour loaf. The sweet smell emerged with the first white-flour feeding. The stuff rises normally (double-triple in 3-4 hours). And now I've risen a test loaf with it -- first rise looked textbook, as did the second, and the dough itself smells great, except there's definitely a hint of this 'liqueur' aroma around it.
I've read several TFL threads via Search for 'sourdough smell,' and I'm not too worried about this. I assume the starter will settle down with further feedings and probably stop being so tipsy. But I wonder if anyone can see, in my description (which I know is sadly loose -- I've done this enough times with dead-on results that I've gotten to assume things will always 'just happen' in a certain way) something that explains why this starter smells so different from my prior efforts. Thanks!