The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bestbuy's picture


My husband owns a small bakery consisting only of italian bread.  The venting is not the greatest and we have noticed that he smells of alcohol after working a 14hour day.  Can yeast have this effect with such poor ventilation?

sourdough-guy's picture

 Is he popping to the pub on his way home? : -) 



Beckers's picture

Dear Mrs. Bestbuy,

Loius Pasteur demonstrated that  sugars fermented with yeast (as in a dough system) will produce Ethyl Alcohol, Carbon Dioxide and Organic Residues.

  100 lbs of Sugar  produces 49 lbs of Alcohol plus 47 lbs of Carbon Dioxide and 4 lbs of residuals.  Possibly in a confined space some of this alcohol will linger in the air. These  gases are vented from the bakery oven into the atmosphere as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that contribute to smog and pollution, a major problem for large wholesale bakers.  When I was a lad working in the bakery, it was believed that this alcohol acted as a stimulant for bakers working the long arduous hours that were required at the time.

Hope this helps Mrs. B


TRK's picture

I read somewhere of bakers who used to put towels to catch the steam vented from the oven, wring them out, and drink the result for the alcohol.  So I think there is definitely enough in the steam to cause the smell you are talking about.


I have heard of desperate people drinking the hooch from sourdough starter.  Hence the name.