The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Has anyone used or considered wine/beer yeast as a sourdough starter?

steelchef's picture

Has anyone used or considered wine/beer yeast as a sourdough starter?


I used to make wine in the basement and had great success with natural sourdough starter. It has been six years since moving the wine making to a U-Brew. Now I can't get a natural starter happening.

So, has anyone used a wine or beer yeast to start a poolish?  Any info would be appreciated. I intend to give it a try regardless.


arlo's picture

Take a look at the wonderful Shiao-Ping's blog when she tried Mr. Lepard's Barm bread. This may help you out.

steelchef's picture

Thank you so much for the reference. I will pursue this subject anon.

Coincedental to my original request for information I recently adapted a KAF recipe for Mustard Sandwich Bread, using dark ale instead of water. This was a whim rather than a science based choice. Here is a link to the original recipe.

The modification was spectacular. The brew, (Rickards Dark) was used at room temperature and without flattening. Following is my final formula:



Mustard Rye Sandwich Bread



1 cup (8 ounces) Dark Beer
1 tablespoon each Hot German mustard and French's Regular Mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) dried minced onions
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 cup (4-1/4 ounces) Dark Rye Flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon Dough Conditioner

Mix and knead together all of the ingredients--in a bowl, mixer, or bread machine--to make a smooth, but quite sticky dough. (Polysaccharides in rye called pentosans are responsible for this stickiness; they're the reason rye dough will never attain the silky, delightful finish that wheat-based dough's are capable of.) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise for an hour; it'll become puffy, but probably won't double in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and gently deflate it. Shape it into an 8-inch log, and place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover the pan, and allow the loaf to rise till it's crested a good inch or so over the lip of the pan. This should take between 60 and 90 minutes; give it more time if necessary. This bread doesn't have much oven spring, so you want to get as full a rise in the pan, before baking, as possible.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf.

To my great surprise, this was not a first time "wonder" as a duplicate loaf was produced with a different mustard combination, just today. Dijon and Honey mustards were substituted and it still had rave reviews.

davidg618's picture

A year or so ago, I made bread using champagne yeast (EC118). I essentially made a multiple-build poolish.

David G

ehanner's picture

The recipe for mustard rye sandwich bread looks good. I don't use dough conditioners but bread flour and attention to folding should work I would think. Do you happen to have a photo of the crumb you could post?


steelchef's picture

 I just took this Eric. It's all that is left of yesterday's efforts. Should you decide to give it a whirl, try saving and drying a couple of slices for use as croutons. It is also a winning component in poultry or salmon stuffing. I consider this to be my best find ever.


ehanner's picture

I noticed you mentioned you not being able to get a starter going after moving the wine out of the house. I think the trouble would be more with the process since the greatest proportion of bacteria and yeasts are in the flour, not in the air. I suggest taking a look at Debra Wink's very informative threads on the Pineapple Solution. If you don't care to read the technical aspects of starter biology and want to just get to doing it, scroll to the bottom and clink on Part 2. That's where the formula and procedure are, at the bottom of her post. If you keep the starter in the correct temperature range and follow her procedure, I'm sure you can again be baking with a natural levain.


steelchef's picture

Thanks for the tips and links Eric.

Douglas's picture

The first time I made a sour dough starter. I started with a cup of boiled water, cooled, 2 table spoons each of rye flour and whole wheat flour. To this I added the bottom 1/3 of a bottle of Belgium beer. This beer was a" brewed in the bottle type" and there was a small layer of yeast on the bottom of the bottle.

After mixing this concoction up I let it rest at room tempature, loosly covered for a week. It showed very little activity, although it had a good beer odor. To try to speed it up I added a 1/2 teaspoon of apple vinager, that  didn't seem to help either, so I added just a bit of regular bread yeast  and a teaspoon of honey. That got it bubbling. After feeding the starter for another week with rye and wheat flour I made an excellent tasting wheat flour bread. Shortly after I baked a spelt bread which was equally as good.

The sad thing was that I forgot to save some of the spelt dough to keep my starter going.  So made another  stareter without beer and which hasn't the same good taste.