Bethesdabakers' Beer Bread

I did this a couple of years back on Dan's forum but it's a good one for special occasions. The idea is to create a unique loaf by making a starter from the dregs of a bottle of live beer (bottle conditioned), using the same beer as liquid in the dough, and presenting a bottle of the beer with the loaf to the person whose birthday it is.

In this case it was my new neighbour Ben's 30th birthday (don't you just love it when people get anxious about turning 30 I can't even remember my 30th).

I cut it a bit fine; his birthday was Sunday and I didn't mix the starter 'til Thursday morning. By Saturday morning it looked so inactive that I was prepared to cheat and I made a second starter using part beer and part regular starter but, come Sunday morning, they both looked identical so I stuck with the beer.

Take a bottle of bottle conditioned beer, in this case it was St Austell Brewery Clouded Yellow wheat beer. Gently decant most of it except for the cloudy bit at the bottom. Mix these dregs with a little flour to form a paste. I keep my starters at 100% hydration and I mixed it to roughly that consistency. When you can see evidence of fermentation treat it like a normal starter and refresh it morning and night until you are happy it is well active.

In the beer that was decanted off (+ as much additional water as is necessary) simmer 250g of grain. I used barley until tender. Refrigerate until you make the dough but bring back to room temperature before using. The evening before you make the dough, take another bottle of the same beer, bring to the boil and allow to cool. I'm using 500ml bottles here.

The Dough

Ingredient Weight US Volume Bakers Percentage
Strong White Flour 600 g 21.16 oz 4.7 cups 60.00%
Rye Flour 300 g 10.58 oz 2.35 cups 30.00%
Wholemeal Wheat Flour 100 g 3.53 oz 0.78 cups 10.00%
Salt 16 g 0.56 oz 1.12 tbspns 1.60%
Beer (the beer from above + water) 600 g 21.16 oz 2.54 cups 60.00% (hydration)
Beer Starter 600 g 21.16 oz 4.7 cups 60.00%
Barley Grain (soaked weight) 500 g 17.64 oz 2.2 cups 50.00%
Total Weight: 2716 grams / 95.80 ounces
Total Flour Weight: 1000 grams / 35.27 ounces

Bakers percentages are relative to flour weight (flour equals 100%) and every other ingredient is a percentage of this. Flour from the Starter is not counted. Note: This recipe was uploaded in grams and has been automatically converted to other measures, let us know of any corrections.


There should be left-over grain. Save this for decoration.

I used Dan's short knead method. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they come together. Cover and stand for 10 minutes. Oil a work surface and your hands, scrape out the dough and knead ten times. Wash the bowl, dry and oil it, replace the dough, let it stand for ten minutes. Knead ten times, return to the bowl, stand ten minutes then knead again. At the end of the first hour, stretch and fold the dough twice. Repeat at the end of the second and third hours. It's a pretty sticky dough.

Dry the left-over grain on kitchen towel, flour a large banneton with rye flour and scatter the grain over the base.

At the end of four hours form a boule with the dough and gently drop it seam side up into the banneton. My proof time was four hours

Bake about 50 minutes at 220C.

The photo doesn't do it justice. It is just the most beautiful loaf you ever saw.