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June 26, 2010

Beer BreadEver wonder what you could do with the left over yeast trub after a batch of homebrew?  Save it for another beer is one idea.  Using it to leaven your bread is another such idea.  In our family, bread is a staple.  The kids love it.  My wife would prefer to not go without.  Needless to say, I rather enjoy a nice artisan bread as well (focaccia with jalapeño and cheese).  When we were back in Texas visiting family and friends, I was able to participate in brewing a batch of beer with an old buddy.  One of the things that came up in discussion was the use of your leftover yeast to leaven bread.

To add to the thriftiness of the whole operation, and because so many of the good things in life involve grain and yeast, when I moved the beer from the primary fermentor into secondary after a week, I scooped out a half cup of the yeast/hop sludge at the bottom and mixed it in with a cup of flour and two cups of water to produce a starter. You keep the starter exactly like you do a sourdough starter — scoop out half a cup or a cup to leaven a batch of bread, then add water and flour, let the starter sit out over night (covered) and then return it to the fridge. It doesn’t have the sourdough taste, however, being brewer’s yeast rather than wild.  However, if you do as I did and start out with a full cup of the yeast/hops sludge from the bottom of your fermentor, you’ll get a bit of a hops bitterness in your first batch or two of bread. The best way to work with this is by using some whole grains and such. Here’s the recipe I used for the first batch:

2 cups rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 cups white bread flour
1.5 tsp salt
0.5 cups beer starter
1.5 cups water

This makes a thick dough, so you need to kneed it thoroughly.  Then leave it out overnight to rise.  It should have risen noticeably by morning, and it will continue to rise more rapidly through the day.  Two hours before you’re going to bake it, lay it out on a pan or peal on a sheet of parchment paper, and shape it into a nice round loaf.  Use a razor blade to slice a couple of slashed in the top. Spray it with a bit of oil, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it to rise for the last two hours.  Then bake.

This can be adapted to any type of bread.  I have a notion to use some yeast from my recent porter for a pizza crust in the near future.  Incidentally, Erik at Top Fermented detailed how he uses spent grains for baking bread as well.  It seems that beer and bread are natural combo.

I’m thinking the ultimate beer bread would utilize leftover brewers yeast, spent grains, and a portion of beer (rather than water) in the recipe.  What other ideas do you have for beer bread?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Don permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:04 am

    One of the best Pizza crusts I ever made was made with beer instead of water. It gave it a nice yeasty flavor, and the dough was soft and chewy. Perfect pizza crust!

  2. July 9, 2010 10:44 am

    I will be doing this. I plan on some spent grain, too.

  3. July 29, 2010 9:10 am

    I love this idea and have put it off for far too long. Every time I see my spent grains in a pile on the side of my lawn I sigh. Thanks Tex!

    • Big Tex permalink
      July 29, 2010 9:14 am

      Lately, the spent grains from our group brew days ends up as chicken feed. 100 lbs. dry weight. They love it. I need to save some after my next batch.

      BTW, I used the yeast from my porter to make a pizza crust. Awesome pizza. Awesome.

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