Sourdough starter: wit's end!
Hello all, been trying to get my sourdough starter to work for the past five weeks and I feel like I'm getting nowhere. I've been doing 100% hydration with wholemeal flour and bottled water, I was getting reliable 100% -120% increases a few weeks ago, but it never proofed any bread whenever I tried to use it. It started to smell very strongly of vinegar two weeks ago, which I thought was due to my kitchen getting colder, so I started keeping it in the hot press and feeding it twice a day (I discard all but 150g, then put in 150g of wholemeal flour, equal amount of water each time). It is reliably very very bubbly, and begins to develop bubbles almost immediately after a feeding but will not, ever ever, proof any bread even a bit. After a slight reprieve the vinegar smell has returned with a vengeance. My question is, apart from a general request for guidance, encouragement from amateurs, what is the longest you've ever spent cultivating a starter, what was the missing ingredient?