Is there any flavour enhancement by using beer to hydrate the dough?
Yes for sure. I've made many breads with beer and ale and you will taste it in the bread depending on how strong a beer you use. I highly recommend it.
Sometimes it will add just an extra boost of wheat flavor to enhance the flavor profile.
Give it a try. You can use it for 50% of the water and work your way up until you feel comfortable using it for 100%.
Recently tried this myself with a couple different homebrews. It doesn't taste "beery" per se, but there's certainly a level of depth that it adds. I did raise the temp up of the beer up, but the carbonation didn't seem to cause any issues.
Something to keep in mind is that the fermentable sugars in the beer aren't completely eaten up by the beer yeast; attenuation can be 70% and even lower depending on the yeast. There's so many factors going on here, but do be aware you are adding some percentage of fermentable sugar to the bread. There's also a percentage of unfermentable sugars in the beer which can affect browning/carmelization.
I had almost a case of leftover beer from a party 2 YEARS AGO stuck away in the basement. My beerdrinking family members told me it was no good anymore so I used it in my "French" bread. It was quite delicious-adding a slightly fruity,beery subtle note to the loaf. This was not a premium beer to start.
I recently had a piece of beer bread made by a local bakery/café that has a beer brewed just for the purpose of making the bread-it was some form of a stout, I was told. WOW! It was a really wonderful beer flavor and that is from someone who does not generally like beer! (me). It hit all the right notes for a fermented flavor without the hoppy flavor. Delicious!
So go for it and see what happens
but sometimes an ale can make the bread taste bitter - not all the time. We brew a lot of ales in Phoenix because of the very high temperatures so they are always around. I've never had this problem with lagers, stouts, porters, ice or light beers. Beer might have been the first additive to flour to make bread ...even before salt which was very expensive and....maybe just after water. i'm guessing beer was the original liquid and the yeast source in ancient breads. Many Egyptians were paid in bread and beer long ago. I have used beer up to 11% alcohol without any problems in bread.
I say the darker the bread, the darker the beer both in the bread and on the table with it. i
Just for a point of clarification "ale" refers to a beer with a fast, top fermenting yeast strain at warmer temps (typically 68degF). General rule is porter and stouts are ales. However a lot of ales are heavily hopped compared to a lager and will have a higher bittering profile and at times higher flavor and aroma hop additions too. Porters, stouts, scotch ales will be lower hopped beers (generally speaking) where india/American/nw pale ales and bitters will have a higher IBU value (IBU are bittering units).
and vice versa. You might start with something mild, like Rolling Rock.
Thank you to all responders. I'm going to give it a whirl. I've just joined this site. Very helpful to know that what ever you want to ask there are always others who have been there, done that.
Thanks again ... Wazza
Thanks brewer ... I'm going to use a Belgian beer. It has a great flavour, but a high alcohol by volume (10%) content. Not sure whether this will be a factor.
Never used that high abv so don't know. Most Belgium beers tend to be very yeast forward flavors. I'd think that would turn out great in a bread but then again it may not translate well since their strains are so unique. Keep us updated! Excited to hear how this one comes out.
Will do. wazza