The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Barm, etc.

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

Barm, etc.

Lechem started a thread about goddisgoode or barm, the yeast that medieval brewers used to produce ale - in England and beer in Europe. This led to discussion about the difference between modern sourdoughs and yeast breads along with the prospect of using barm from brewing beer for baking bread. And there seems to be a consensus that early bakers regularly obtained barm from brewers for their baking and that households that did not do their own brewing would also obtain barm from brewers for their baking needs. So I wandered off into the swirling mists of googleland trying to find out more about barm. It seems that the yeast we so conveniently find on the shelf in the store in almost all its forms was isolated from the yeasts brewers were using and commercialized. I found some interesting information in an essay on the Economics of Medieval English Brewing, http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=medieval/brewing that indicated the relationship between brewers and bakers was a two-way street with small scale brewers, unable to keep the process continually underway, would often have to obtain yeast from a baker. I'm wondering how much the yeasts used in the two processes differ and, if either the brewers or bakers made an effort to maintain their own supply of barm, how that would differ from our sourdough cultures. dabrownman says his NMNF rye based starter grows more sour over time but it is kept under refrigeration, a technology unavailable 'way back when'. Some of the country folk, 'ye olde yokels', would certainly have had to maintain a starter because the nearest brewer wasn't all that near. Any thoughts, SWAG's, certainties on the subject?     

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I'm assuming that early beer was fermented naturally? Cultivating wild yeast very much like a sourdough starter. Eventually bakers yeast was manufactured from this process isolating a single type of yeast we now know as bakers' yeast. However when done naturally was the fermentation very much like a sourdough starter and was it similar in it's make-up? In other words... did it contain the lactic acid producing bacteria which is missing in bakers' yeast today?

Dabrownman explained that barm bread was more popular as it was "sweeter" than sourdough. This makes me think it lacked the bacteria. However if it was fermented naturally and with grains then why does one process have this component where the other one didn't?

mwilson's picture
mwilson


Beer was originally sour and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are a component of naturally fermented beer. However just like with sourdough breads the level of sourness can vary.

There are several reasons why barm doesn’t generally make sour bread.

Timing the use of barm would be important. Best results would come from using a still active, lively fermenting brew. Using old barm to make bread will probably make it sour.

Yeast and LAB have specific nutrient requirements and in a brewing system, yeasts are the primary fermenters because they are best adapted to this environment. Whereas LAB are secondary fermenters. This could be attributed to the sugar rich medium of wort. Yeasts are after all, “sugar-loving”.

In a sourdough system LAB are the primary fermenters and yeast are secondary. LAB are best adapted to this environment.

The addition of hops in beer act as a preservative and help to deter spoilage microorganisms including some LAB.

Inoculating with barm will introduce very high levels of yeasts that are maltose positive and maltose is the most abundant sugar found in dough.

 

Personally, I have been thinking about making beer to make to bread for quite a while now.

I’d like to try some barmy bread. Some have said it is quite flavourful. Perhaps even more so than sourdough bread.

I say “Bring Back Barmy Bread”

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I think it would be nice to see the other process of fermenting grains and make beer "liquid bread". Am I right that to fully appreciate barmy bread it'll need a naturally fermented beer otherwise using the barm from beer brewed with added yeast would be pretty much like using bakers' yeast? I did see a video of someone who had the opinion there's a difference between beer bread (lit made with the beer) and barm bread (just the barm) although I would think the barm itself would bring a beery taste.

If I didn't have to work I'd be delving far more into all this and making my own beer too. Naturally, like sourdough, of course. I wonder if you can still buy some naturally fermented beer...

I also read that wine yeast can be used but it produces a far too bitter bread so isn't used.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Not necessarily. I think the main appeal with barmy bread is its "beeriness" and using barm from inoculated brews as opposed to wild beer would still provide that quality.

It's important to remember that modern bakers yeast is completely different from brewing yeasts even if the same species. Bakers yeast has been designed / conditioned / trained / selected for its ability to create carbon dioxide and minimize flavour. Whereas brewing yeasts are selected for their ability to create particular flavours and alcohol.

During the production of beer, after processing grains (mashing) you are left with a sterile product called wort. Leaving this to ferment naturally means you are at the mercy of mother nature and if made in an environment that has never had beer made in it before, it will likely spoil. Repeated attempts would be required I suspect.