The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Beer ingredients = Bread ingredients?

dwfender's picture

Beer ingredients = Bread ingredients?

I was in a Whole Foods today. If you're from NYC it was the Houston St one. I came to find out that have an entire section devoted to beer. In this section is about 20 different whole grain barleys and wheats etc that you can use in the beer making process. Some of them looked look very interesting. Caramel flavors, smoked grains, different exotic wheats etc. I dont have a grain mill BUT, I was thinking about getting some of these grains, cracking them, doing a LOOOONNGGGG soak, maybe 2 days, and incorporating them into a dough. 

Has anyone had any experience with stuff like this. I've never done anything like this before so I'm more or less taking an educated guess on whether the technique would be right and the ingredients would be edible. Suggestions?!

Wild-Yeast's picture

Malting barley develops enzymes that act on carbohydrates breaking them down into fermentable sugars. There's hardly any gluten in barley to leaven bread - only wheat has the necessary gluten to form the necessary CO2 bubbles.

Dietetic malt is kilned at a low temperature and is used in bread making flours - it still has all the active enzymes. The amount is kept to a low percentage of the overall flour weight. The same cannot be said for the darker malts which no longer contain these active enzymes. 

That being said it can be used as an adjunct to high protein flour producing taste variations that are delicious. An overnight soak will be long enough to incorporate the cracked grains into the dough.  The different malts  [as you suggested] will yield flavor excursions that can be very distinctive.

One of my best brews was from an over roasted, six row barley that no one would buy [had to use it up].  It made a "toasty stout" that became legendary at the brew pubs I founded in the 70's. It took about three pints for the taste to be acquired - after that they [the clients] desired none other. Unfortunately I couldn't continue because no one would take a chance on overdone chocolate malt. The malting operation is what kept the company alive back then. That was then...,


davidg618's picture

I think beer or mead (honey, water and wild yeast) were the first fermentations consumed by humans (or our antecedents). Bread followed shortly (in evolutionary time) but, except for their long-time dependence on barm collected from the local brewer, bakers went their own way. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and the separation is oceanic.

Both a home-brewer and a home-baker, I've often thought there is much each can learn from the other. And the result would be new and exciting flavors, expecially in bread. 

That said, I also think the hero and the enemy are one and the same: amalayse. I'll try to make this clear. Before home-brewing was made legal (the Carter administration; bless you, Billie) home-brewers relied on bakers' yeast. Unless they had access to a commercial brewer, beer yeast strains were not available.  One of the recurring criticisms of home brew brewed BCA (before the Carter Administration) was, "they tasted yeasty".  Not surprising. Bread yeast was developed to work in environments wherein most starch was meant to remain starch. Bread yeast, turned out in a sugar-rich environment resulted in an orgy.  Similarly, bread yeast, turned loose in a dough made with in an amalyse rich dough of, say, Pale malt and wheat (for gulten structure) would be over-proofed in a matter of minutes.

Maltsters sprout and kiln barley, for the most part, to release the amalyse enzymes (alpha and beta) and leave them locked and loaded to convert starch to sugar. All that's needed is water and heat to pull the trigger. In more direct language, To make good beer a brewer wants lots, and lots of sugar (think alcohol); lots and lots of amalyse makes that possible.

However, there are many malted barleys kilned at high temperatures, or caramelized, for flavor and mouth-feel and in their processes amalyse is denatured, i.e., destroyed.

I've been too busy with basic breads--sourdough, baguettes and challah--to think about a new(?) evolution of bread, exploiting the flavors in Roasted Barley, Black Malt, Chocolate Malt, or Cara-pils. These are adjunct malts brewers add for flavor and mouth-feel, and whose amalyse is denatured: a ready source of exploratory flavors for the bread baker. 

Damn, my "things to try"  list never shrinks.

David G


clazar123's picture

I have been wondering what "flavors" could be extracted from the wonderful and not so wonderful smelling grains available at a local brew shop. The explanation provided about how the enzymes are utilized and the grains that ae still active and some inactive was very helpful. I may have to incorporate some in my Multigrain for a whole new flavor profile!

Thanks! Added to my list of things to try! Endless!