The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

beer bread

hanseata's picture

Long time no see - after I baked four breads from my Equal Opportunity Baking list that I wasn't 100% satisfied with, I got a bit burned out on them. The anal Virgo me didn't want to continue with yet another Fair Baking Bread without having tried to coax and tweak the grade C candidates to a better performance or more satisfying taste.

Slowly I revisited and rebaked (I learned to use the prefix "re" from the creators of our daily crossword puzzle - it is amazing how you can put a "re" in front of any given verb and come up with a new term never heard of before!) the soso breads, Arkatena Bread, Muesli Rolls (both fine now), Camembert Grape Bread, and then the Beer Rye.

I had picked Bill Middeke's contribution to Kim Ode's "Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club" because of the combination stout and rye. In my opinion nothing made with beer can be bad (unless, perhaps, it's made with Bud Light, aka dish wash water, or other beer abominations).

The amount of sweeteners, molasses and brown sugar (both 1/4 cup for two small loaves) seemed a lot, so I reduced them by half, to 1/8 cup each.

The recipe, originally been posted in the "St. Louis Globe-Democrat", had called for lard or bacon fat instead of the shortening listed in Kim Ode's book. As a German accustomed to cooking with lard, and no friend of shortening, I switched back to the original piggy fat.

For the active dry yeast I used instant, my default, and, also employed my preferred S & F, plus overnight cold fermentation, instead of making and baking the breads on the same day.

Everything worked well, only the baking time was a bit longer. The bread looked really pretty, but even with the reduced amounts of sugar and molasses it was still way too sweet for my taste!

Bill Middeke, an ardent bicyclist, surely needs sufficient carbohydrates to fuel him for his athletic rides, but my bike carries me mostly to the nearby supermarket, and I get plenty of extra carbs from chocolate and desserts.

Not only that, the best of all husbands complained about the caraway. While I like it, Richard doesn't care for the taste and always finds it overdosed.

So I had another go at the Beer Rye Bread, this time cutting sugar and molasses again by 50%, adding a little more water, to make up for the molasses reduction, and using only 1 teaspoon caraway instead of 1 tablespoon.

We were eager to try the new bread - the sweetness was just right, but with less sugar the bread was a bit bland, and clearly needed more salt. And my spouse, known to be a delicate little flower, found himself OD'd on caraway again....

Relentlessly adapted to the Andersons' preferences, this final version received the stamp of approval: a tasty bread, slightly sweet, with a hint of caraway, and full of the good stuff: black Ruthless Rye.



(2 small breads)

1 ½ cups stout, or other dark ale (350 g)

70 g water
34 g lard
9 g light brown sugar
21 g molasses
12 g salt
1 tbsp. orange zest, (ca. 8 g)
1 g caraway seeds, (1/2 tsp), or more, to taste
5 g instant yeast
325 g rye flour
320 g all-purpose flour

DAY 1:

In saucepan, heat beer and water until just starting to bubble. Add lard, sugar, molasses, salt, orange zest, and caraway seeds. Let cool to lukewarm (not more than 95 F.)

Stir yeast into beer mixture, until dissolved. Pour in mixer bowl, and add flour. Mix at low speed (or by hand) for 1 - 2 minutes, until all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 6 minutes, adjusting with more water or flour, if necessary (dough should be soft and still sticky.)

Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. Stretch and pat into square, fold top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter, then the same way from both sides. Gather dough into a ball, place seam side down into a lightly oiled bowl, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat this S & F 3 times, with 10 minute intervals, after last fold cover and refrigerate overnight. (I divide the dough at this point in halves, and refrigerate it in two containers.)

DAY 2:

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, it should have doubled.

Preheat oven to 350ºF, including steam pan. Shape dough into 2 boules or bâtards. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down, and score. Mist with water, sprinkle with rolled rye, cover, and let rise until doubled, ca. 45 - 60 minutes.

Bake breads for 25 minutes, steaming with 1 cup boiling water. Rotate breads 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 25 - 30 minutes. ( temperature at least 195 F.)

Cool on wire rack.

As pretty as it gets - whether as boules or bâtards - here with rye flakes as topping

hanseata's picture

Last spring Breadsong posted about Alsatian Beer Bread, a formula developed by Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, published in "Modern Baking", a professional bakers' website I liked the looks of her buns, and was intrigued by the beer crunch crust  (if it's crunchy AND made with beer, it must be good!) so I copied the recipe from "Modern Baking" to my ever growing to-do list.

Alsatia is famous for its  happy marriage between French and German cuisine, as shown in Zwiebelkuchen - Onion Tarte (, and Elsässer Apfeltorte - Alsatian Apple Torte. 

It's also home of one of my favorite authors, Tomi Ungerer, known for his quirky, illustrated books for children and adults, whose heroes are no mild mannered goodie-two-shoes, but usually just the opposite - like the stubborn cat boy in: "No Kiss for Mother". And even in his wonderful illustrations for a book of German folk songs ("Das grosse Liederbuch") he always manages to smuggle one little nasty detail in his otherwise idyllic scenes and landscapes.

Like me, Tomi Ungerer loves cats and good food, and is no tee-totaller. And as an Alsatian, he must love this bread, too.


 95 g all-purpose flour
 95 g bread flour
   3 g salt
    1 g instant yeast (1/4 tsp.)
119 g water
 28 g potato flakes
 98 g water, (to soak potato flakes)
all pate fermentee
250 g bread flour
125 g rye flour (whole or medium)
    9 g salt
    4 g instant yeast
220 g water
BEER CRUNCH (enough for 6 breads)
50 g rye flour
90 g beer
2 g salt
1 g instant yeast
rye flour , for dustin

DAY 1:

1. Prepare pâte fermentée. Let ferment at least 3 hours at room temperature, stretch and fold, then refrigerate.

 DAY 2 :

2. Remove pâte fermentée from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

In a small bowl, mix potato flakes with water.

 3. Combine all dry dough ingredients with pâte fermentée. Add cautiously 220 g water (not all might be needed). Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, add potato flakes and knead for another 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and continue kneading another for 2-3 minutes.

 4. Let rise for 1 hour. Divide dough into 3 pieces (350 g), pre-shape into rounds, let rest for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, combine ingredients for beer crunch in small bowl.

 5. Fold 3 sides of rounds into center to make triangles. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. Spread beer crunch over loaves, then dust with rye flour.

 6. Preheat oven to 470 F/245 C. Let breads proof for 1 hour at 81 F/27 C. (If rye flour is absorbed, dust again before baking).

 7. Bake for 20 minutes, (no steam,) rotate, and continue baking for another 20 minutes.


Comments: The original recipe lists only an unspecified pre-ferment. I used a pâte fermentée, but I'm sure a levain would work as well.

It also has 240 g water for the final dough, but cautions that might be too much. It was! The dough looked at first drier than it really was, and I had to adjust with more flour to keep it from being wet like Pain à l'Ancienne dough, and totally unshapable. Therefore I suggest using 220 g water.

The original formula's baking temperature (470 F) and time (40 minutes) reflects conditions in a commercial oven, after 20 minutes baking time the breads were already getting rather dark, and after 25 minutes the internal temperature had already reached 208 F, so I took them out. Thinking of David Snyder's San Joaquin Sourdough, I would next time bake the breads at 460 F, for about 27 - 29 minutes, plus leaving them longer in the switched-off oven to prevent the crust from softening.

All in all, a really nice bread, with a hearty note from the rye, a great crust, and an attractive look. I will add it to my repertoire.

Updated 2/11/12 to include some information Kim gave me (who had made this bread at a baking class with Chef Pierre Zimmermann).

asfolks's picture

Beer and bread has always seemed like a logical combination to me and I have made several variations on beer bread. This version is based on an American Rye Ale and uses only beer for hydration.

The French Broad Brewery is just down the road and I am lucky enough to have a friend who works there. Not a bad deal, trading beer for bread.



100% hydration fed with KA Bread flour – 300g


French  Broad Rye Hopper Ale – 487g

KA Organic AP – 307g

Bob’s Red Mill Whole Rye flour – 180g

Final Dough:

KA Organic AP flour – 288g

Sea Salt – 18g

Paste Topping:

Bay State Med. Rye – 75g

French  Broad Rye Hopper Ale – 95g

Instant Yeast – 1g

Sea Salt – 2.5g



Fed active starter 8 hours prior to mix and fermented at 70°F

Flour soaker established 3 hours to mix and held at 70°F

Mixed Levain, Soaker and Final 288g of AP flour by hand and rest for 30 minutes.

Add salt.

Stretch and Fold at 00:15, 01:00, 01:30, 02:30, for a total bulk ferment of 4 hours.

Shaped 3 boules @ 525g and rested on couche seam side up, after 15 min. rest brush paste mix on seam side of boules and proof for 1 hour.

Bake @450F 15 min. with steam and then @ 400F 30 more min.


jschoell's picture

This is my second experiment with using beer brewing methods to make a bread.

This time I wanted to see how the flovor of hops would taste in a baked loaf. 

barley flour soaker. Leave at room temp overnight.


1 lb of malted barley of your choice... I used 90% special B and 10% chocolate malt. Place grains in a large pot and cover with water (no more than 2 cups) Slowly raise temp until it reaches 160F, then turn off heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. strain the liquid into a new pot. Save the spent grain for other fun stuff. 


add whole hops to the strained wort, and begin the boil. Boil for 30 minutes, keeping a loose cover on the pot to prevent evaporation. Allow to cool to room temp. Strain out the hops and your wort is ready to add to the dough!


Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Whisk together. Tear up the soaker and add to the flour mixture. Add oil, wort and water. Mix until you get a ball, then transfer to stand mixer.

knead for 5 minutes, rest for 2 minutse and knead 2 minutes more.

Place dough in oiled bowl and refrigerate at overnight or longer if needed. 

On baking day: Remove dough from fridge and allow to reach room temp, about an hour. Stretch and fold and place back into bowl. After 30 minutes, do this again. ferment until dough reachews 1.5x original size. Divide into 2-3 pieces depending on size of loaves desired (I made two, but I think smaller loaves would be better for a more open crumb). Allow to proof for and hour. Preheat oven to 500F. Add water to steam pan, insert the loaves and reduce temp to 450. After 15 minutes, rotate and reduce temp to 350. Bake for 30 minutes or until center of dough reaches 200f. 

The finished bread had a moist, chewy sandwich bread texture. It is not very sweet. I does have a nice malt flavor and i can detect a little of the hop bitterness and flavor. I think I'll add more hops next time!

NOTE: all these amounts are approximate!


2 cups barley flour

a few grains of instant yeast

enough water to make a sticky paste (about a cup... I didn't take exact measurements.)


about 3 cups bread flour

2 tsp salt

3 tsp raw sugar

1 tsp instant yeast

1 tbsp canola oil

about 1 cup of cooled wort

about 3/4 cup water 


Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

Beer Barm Bread, with Spent Grains

Ahhh, beer making. I don't partake of this sport, but my step-mom, Patty, does, with a passion. And I have to say her IPA will put rivals to shame. But here's the thing. She's been brewing this beer for a few years, and even grows the hops in the backyard. I have long wanted to make a bread with the "wort" (that is, the pre-fermented beer) and the "spent grains" (the malted barley soaked in hot water that, with hops, makes the wort). This is the ultimate beer bread and the method goes back to England and Scotland, and probably much earlier historically, considering barley beer and bread built the pyramids.

British baker Dan Lepard explains that the mildly antiseptic qualities of hops prevent the barm leaven from turning sour. This might seem odd, given that hops are bitter, but in a small dose of leaven they actually sweeten the bread.

For the rest of the post on this wonderful bread, see my post on

Beer Barm Bread


MarieH's picture

I have been reading this blog for many months now and have been inspired and educated by so many bakers. I have used many of the wonderful techniques that ya'll write about (Sylvia's steaming method - genius!).

While I'm impressed by postings of boules, miches, baguettes, and batards, I wonder if there is room to post about a humble sandwich bread made with Guinness, oats, and honey. The recipe is from KAF Whole Grain Baking and is a regular bake for me.

The crumb is good for sandwiches and toast.

Just so I can have some artisan baking street cred, I made Peter Reinhart's whole wheat focaccia last week and am on day 10 of developing a sourdough starter (thanks to the excellent guidance of Teresa Hosier Greenway of

Thanks to everyone who participates in this blog and to Floyd for running it. I look forward to hitting the Reeder icon on my iPad every day to see what postings there are. A little bit of baking sunshine...


jennyloh's picture

I was in for a pleasant surprise when I made the beer bread from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread book.  It was sweet and tasty.  I had my fun turning this into rolls.  

I've adapted the recipe a little,  reducing whole wheat,  and using the diastatic malt powder as I just couldn't find barley that I could sprout.  

I'm beginning to appreciate the stretch and fold method,  as I do see the impact on the crust.  I'm also learning how to steam my oven such that I get the thin crispy crust.  

Check out my full blog here.  



LindyD's picture

Mystery of page 249 solved.

February 10, 2009 - 3:56pm -- LindyD

I've been curious why Jeffrey Hamelman's unkneaded six-fold French bread appears at page 249 in some copies of his book, "Bread," while other copies show a recipe for beer bread.

So I went to the KFA baking circle forum and asked the question.  A nice member there e-mailed King Arthur and received the following response from Jeffrey Hamelman:

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