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I want to make a bread with a stout in it for extra flavor. The stout will replace most of the liquid content of the bread and I am worried whether it will kill the yeast due to the alcohol (4% volume) content of the stout.

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I have a fantastic beer bread recipe that uses no yeast at all; the leavening agent of choice is baking powder. If you're just looking for a good (and really easy!) recipe, I'd be happy to share it. –  Matt Ball Mar 24 '13 at 20:20
    
Isn't there yeast in your beer of choice? –  Mien Mar 24 '13 at 23:46
    
@Mien There was but the yeast that produced the alcohol in the beer were killed off themselves by their own waste product (the alcohol) although it was probably pasteurized anyway –  Sebiddychef Mar 25 '13 at 8:29
    
@MattBall Is that like a kind of soda bread recipe then? I'm going to use sourdough but I'd be interested to see it anyway –  Sebiddychef Mar 25 '13 at 8:33
    
Maybe, I'm not sure exactly what qualifies as a "soda bread," but baking powder != baking soda. It's definitely a quick bread, which is great since I make it pretty frequently and it takes very little time. Anyway: 470g flour, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 12 oz beer, 4 tbsp melted butter. Combine dry ingredients. Mix in beer. Spread into greased 9"x5" loaf pan (I use Crisco). Pour butter on top. Bake @ 375°F for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out. Credit: amazon.com/The-Williams-Sonoma-Baking-Book-Essential/dp/… –  Matt Ball Mar 25 '13 at 13:28
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3 Answers

Yeast, depending on the strain, can typically sustain in alcohol in concentrations of up to 14-18%. Some strains can actually go higher. (I personally keep a champagne yeast on hand for homemade root beer and ginger ale that goes to about 18%). Typical bottled beer runs to about 6%.

Once started the fermentation process, at room temperature, is only slowed or stopped by CO2 build up or starvation, until the alcohol reaches toxic levels. Given the portion of beer to the overall volume in beer bread recipes, the abundance of food for the yeast and the relatively short period allowed for rising none of these factors should inhibit the yeast.

In short, the environment in your dough will reach nowhere near 'toxic' levels during the rise.

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Even after reading a bunch of peer reviewed articles, I was unable to find a definitive answer to this question. The closest thing to a direct answer I found that in this Serious Eats article focused on pizza dough additional ingredients, dbcurrie says:

[Beer] Creates a supple dough. Depending on the recipe, beer can be substituted for just some—or all—of the liquid in a bread recipe.

There was a cached google reference to Shirley O. Corriher in Fine Cooking saying that "eventually" the alcohol produced by yeast as a byproduct of its metabolism would inhibit further activity. However, no level or percentage was given.

Historically, we know that bread yeasts were a byproduct of the beer brewing industry, so they must be able to tolerate at least up to beer levels of alcohol. While it may possibly be in the range where their activity is retarded, they obviously were not killed as the brewer's yeast could then be reused in the next batch, and given to bakers.

Given that the ingredients in a single loaf of bread cost very little, and that one beer is not a huge investment, I would encourage you to try it and see.

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Thanks, I'm making the bread today; if it works I'll post up a picture and the results! –  Sebiddychef Mar 25 '13 at 8:32
    
I have made stout bread many times, and can confirm that the yeast was just fine (if not a bit livelier than usual). –  sourd'oh Jul 18 '13 at 21:20
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According to the always-accurate Wikipedia, baker's yeast is the same Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain used by us beer brewers.

One of the most common beer yeasts used is California Ale yeast, an example of which is Wyeast's 1056. They call it American Ale, but it's the same strain as White Lab's WLP001 California Ale.

Wyeast lists alcohol tolerance at 11%. So I would have no worries about a normal strength beer causing problems.

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