The Fresh Loaf

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Beer instead of water for poolish?

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foodslut's picture
foodslut

Beer instead of water for poolish?

Here's my formula for a beer bread I make from time to time:

Question:  I typically use the beer to make the poolish instead of the water to jack up the flavour of the pre-ferment.  The results have always been good (which I guess is the ultimate guide), but could it be better if I used the water instead?

Thanks!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I use whey from making my kefir cheese in my pre-soak, but not in my pre-ferment.  I found that using sugar-water kefir as more than 1/2 of the liquid in my pre-soak was detrimental, but this has not been the case with the whey.  I am guessing that is because the organisms living in the whey were optimized for living on lactose, so they do not make very great inroads on the nutrients in the pre-soak that the yeast will need during rising.  If the beer that you are using has no biological activity then this is not a consideration for you.

foodslut's picture
foodslut

.... but I'm going to presume my beer (standard canned beer) isn't biologically active - or at least nowhere near enough to affect the yeast-flour interaction (poolish has always come out bubbly even with a pinch of yeast - it rounded out to zero in the chart shown above).

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

If you are using bottle-conditioned beer, then there is some residual active yeast from the conditioning innoculation, and you will get "some" flavor contribution from that to the poolish.  There would not be much active yeast remaining, so only the prolonged timeframe of the preferment would give it enough time to work up that contribution.  If you were to move it to the main build, then the bulk fermentation time would probably not be long enough to allow it to create much of an addition, and the only flavor enhancement would be from the suds itself.  If you are not using a bottle-conditioned beer then I think it probably would not have much impact either way.

The final test is always your results.   Try a comparison and see which way you like it best.  Let us know what you find out!
Good Luck!
OldWoodenSpoon

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Just so you know, where I live (northeast U.S.), bottle-conditioned beer is quite rare, and you won't ever get some "by accident".

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

but not totally impossible to find.  I don't think you can totally rule out getting it by accident though.  You can make sure though, becasue out west here at least they are labeled as such.  I've had many a strange, and even annoyed, look from the liquor department people in the supermarket while I stand in the cooler door reading labels.  Some of our (Northern California-Western USA) regional micro-brewers bottle condition their brews.  Also, there are a few imported brands as well that are bottle conditioned.

OldWoodenSpoon

foodslut's picture
foodslut

.... the bulk fermentation tends to be longish (15-20 hours) in the fridge.  However, I will try side-by-side comparisons to see how much of  a difference the beer vs. water poolish makes - and share results here.  I was just checking to see if there's any obvious "don't do this because" out there.

Thanks for the comparison suggestion OldWoodenSpoon!