I am looking to make some beer bread by substituting beer for water in some of my favorite recipes. I have heard that beer has yeast though, so I was wondering if the yeast in beer would work to ferment & proof my bread.

I was wondering if there is enough for say, an overnight rise without adding any extra yeast, or should I still use the full amount of yeast in each recipe that I use without the beer?

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    I would think the amount of yeast would depend on the specific beer you chose... and you might be better served by a bottle-carbonated beer. Most commercial beers are force carbonated and may not have active cultures. Plus, I'm pretty sure that, despite being called "yeast" they're not the same kind of "yeast". livestrong.com/article/… – Catija Mar 13 '15 at 21:10
  • To clarify, are you looking to use beer yeast, one of the varieties sold at beer stores to be used in the brewing process or are you hoping to use whatever yeast may be left over in beer that you've purchased at the store. – Catija Mar 13 '15 at 22:48
  • I am looking to use beer out of the bottle as a leavening agent. I see that I should use actual Bakers yeast to get the rise in addition to the beer (because the beer yeast will not work) – Seth Mar 14 '15 at 15:29
  • If you get a beer with live cultures in it you could make a yeast starter from it and use that. Not sure how it would turn out but would worth an experiment. Note that different beer yeast produce markedly different flavors so the results may depend strongly on the beer the yeast is harvested from. – casey Mar 14 '15 at 20:07

I don't believe you would want to try to leaven bread with beer only, though you could certainly use it as a flavoring.

First, the amount of yeast still present in a brewed batch of beer is very low. Beers that have been bottle carbonated (or bottle conditioned) will have more than others but, particularly with high gravity beers (beers with a lot of alcohol), a lot of the yeast has died due to the alcohol content or been removed by the manufacturer to clarify the brew (yeasts make beer cloudy).

Plus, beer yeast and bread yeast are very different things:

From the info here:

Different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae produce different proportions of carbon dioxide and alcohol. Baker's yeast is a blend of several strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae chosen for their flavor and ability to make carbon dioxide, which causes bread to rise. Brewer's yeast is made of strains chosen for their alcohol-producing ability and tends to have a bitter flavor. Brewer's yeast is considered an inactive yeast while baker's yeast is an active yeast. In an active yeast the yeast cells are still alive, whereas they are killed in the process of making inactive yeasts, like brewer's yeast.

Brewer's yeast is used to brew homemade wines and beers, while baker's yeast makes bread rise. You can't brew alcohol with baker's yeast and you can't leaven bread with brewer's yeast.

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    While the brewer's yeast that is sold as a supplement is inactive (it's basically waste from the brewing process), the yeast used to make beer is very much active (and can be used to make bread with some minor adjustments to technique) – SourDoh Mar 13 '15 at 21:40
  • Indeed - and there are varieties of both bread (notably sourdough) and beer that make use of wild yeast strains to produce a specific sour, wild flavor. That suggests at least some interchangeability, though you're almost certainly right that they're not perfectly equal. Heck, even differences in yeast strain among yeasts intended for a single purpose can have a major impact on the flavor of finished bread and/or beer. – logophobe Mar 13 '15 at 22:40
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    @Catija Text you quoted in your answer is about yeast, that's what I was commenting on. Also, differentiating between brewer's yeast and baker's yeast is a fairly recent development. They had been used interchangeably for a very long time. – SourDoh Mar 14 '15 at 23:56
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    @Catija It actually doesn't take significantly longer than bakers yeast to make bread. I'm guessing the speed is accounted for by yeast being used at a higher concentration in bread anyway, combined with the structure of the bread actually capturing the bubbles. – SourDoh Mar 15 '15 at 0:05
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    @Catija The only issue I have is that the text you quote is incorrect, which I pointed out in comments. – SourDoh Mar 16 '15 at 14:53

Made bread today by replacing the yeast and half the water with hefeweizen beer I brewed recently. I used equal parts beer and water, along with a little sugar, to make a yeast starter, thereby multiplying the amount of yeast present. Works great and provides hints of the distinctive hefeweizen underflavors of clove and banana. My advice is to experiment! Use unfiltered, unpasteurized beer to make a starter, remembering yeast is very sensitive to rapid temperature changes. Gradually warm everything to room temperature before combining!


As Catija has mentioned, the yeast in beer is dead and typically filtered out.

There does exist a class of recipes that are 'beer breads', in which you add beer or similar bubbly beverage ... but they're quick breads, not yeast breads.

Unlike using sparkling water in tempura, or beer cider in a beer batter, where you rely on the trapped bubbles to give the lift when it's fried, most beer breads also add some baking powder or baking soda to assist on the lifting.

I am not aware of any baked loaf breads that rely on lift solely from beer. You might have some flatbreads flavored with beer, that don't have other lifting agents, but that's not your typical loaf bread.

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    Not all beers have dead yeast that is filtered out. There are many beers brewed around the world that are bottle conditioned. It is not uncommon for a home brewer (I have experience) to use the yeast from a purchased beer to inoculate a new batch of brew. It is true that the live yeast cells are greatly reduced. However, one can extract the sediment in the bottle, and add it to a small portion of wort. Over time you can multiply the yeast to the point that it is usable. I don't think I would bake with it though. – moscafj Mar 14 '15 at 19:59
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    You can also make beer breads that aren't quickbreads (replacing water in a yeast bread recipe with beer). I would sort of agree with moscafj though, with a caveat. While the yeast in bottle conditioned beer isn't technically dead, for the purposes of making bread it might as well be. You'd have to do a good bit of work strengthening the culture to bake with it. – SourDoh Mar 14 '15 at 23:54
  • @moscafj : there's a good chance that the yeast profile recovered from a beer won't be exactly like the yeast that was used to make the beer -- because each yeast strain dies at a slightly different level of alcohol, what's most likely to survive are those that can tolerate the higher percentages of alcohol. (which might be good if you're trying to brew a stronger beer ... might it might not give the same flavors as the original mix). – Joe Mar 15 '15 at 1:21
  • @Joe fair point about varying profile, but I don't buy 'stronger beer'...not even sure what that means. However, my main point was that not all beers are filtered, and in many of those cases the yeast is, indeed, alive. – moscafj Mar 15 '15 at 11:46
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    By stronger Joe means "higher ABV" – Preston Mar 15 '15 at 20:40

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