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The sourdough recipe I use calls for 300ml of water to 500g of bread flour (along with the starter). Instead of this water, could I use beer - or a combination of beer and water? The reason I thought this would be possible is because the beer would add taste and air to the sourdough. Along the same lines of adding more air to the sourdough, would sparkling water be a good idea, if beer is not?

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2 Answers 2

You can easily replace the liquid in most bread recipes with beer. This can have a very pronounced effect on your final dough as there is a lot more chemical and biological fun happening in beer than there is in water. In my experience, the dough with beer will usually rise faster than a similar dough with water. Generally, the flavor difference won't be that pronounced (usually a much more "bready" flavor, unless you use a beer that otherwise has a strong flavor, such as an IPA).

The acidity of the beer won't actually have that much of an effect on your final dough as the ph will be a weighted average of all of your ingredients.

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so you don't think the type of beer matters really? Taking into account what yock said about the pH of beer possibly being over the "pH at which fermentation begins to suffer"? I.e. do I need to pick a beer with pH of less than 4.0? –  Danger Fourpence Jul 20 '13 at 21:11
    
@DangerFourpence as sourd'oh already said the pH of the beer will not have a massive effect as it will be affected by other ingredients too. I experienced some beers/ales (even some that weren't particularly bitter/hoppy) adding quite some bitterness to dishes, so you might consider this too when choosing the beer. –  Martin Turjak Jul 21 '13 at 12:24
    
@DangerFourpence I don't think the type of beer really matters much. I once formulated a beer bread recipe for a local brewery, and while all of the beers I tried definitely improved the flavor of the bread, it wasn't until I got into IPA's and porters that they really imparted anything distinctive. –  sourd'oh Jul 22 '13 at 16:52

You're going to lose most of the carbonation when you pour in the sparkling liquid. You may trap some, but I'm guessing not enough to make a difference.

As for using beer for flavor, it sounds like an interesting experiment. Beer is much more acidic than water, but thankfully yeast likes an acidic environment. While I wouldn't replace all of the water with beer, judicious substitution of some water with beer shouldn't upset the pH of the mix beyond where the yeast can survive and multiply.

Some benchmarks:

  • pH of good lager beer: 3.0 to 4.5 (2)
  • pH at which fermentation begins to suffer: 4.0 (1)

Bear in mind that pH will drop as fermentation occurs since fermentation itself produces carbonic acid.

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and @DangerFourpence you can also find some already tested recipes online: rcakewalk.blogspot.de/2011/01/here-it-is-beer-sourdough.html or breadbaking.about.com/od/sourdoughbreads/r/beersourdo.htm - sounds delicious to me =) –  Martin Turjak Jul 20 '13 at 20:37

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