Beer trub bread

Brewers out there – this blog is for you!

I know that your friends and family are ooing and aaaawwwing at your brewhouse accomplishments. This blog will show you how to get them ooing and aaaawwwing over a great loaf of bread from your beer trub.

For readers who are not beer makers, trub is the ‘gunk’ that forms at the bottom of a beer fermentation vessel. Once the yeast has been active, and has fermented the beer, it drops out and falls to the bottom. The trub is highly bitter as it also picks up the taste of the hops and other bittering agents. But perhaps you are a bread baker who knows a beer brewer. Get some of that trub – its a unique baking experience.

Perhaps the most important aspect to master is the bitterness of the trub. A little is nice – but too much can kill it.

There are also many recipes out there for a beer bread in which beer is substituted in whole or in part for the water. This is also not like that. In this, the beer trub provides both the rise and the flavour.

So lets get started. The whole process takes between 6 and 24 hours, depending on the temperatures you ferment at. Its a great project to do on brew day when you have to wait around and monitor things. This recipe will make one 950g loaf.


  • Beer trub – about 100g. The fresher the better. Use what you have from your last batch that has been refrigerated.
  • Flour: about 700g total. Flour also imparts flavour. For this beer I would go with whole grain high protein flours – whole wheat, red fife, rye, spelt, kamut. Some all purpose white flour can be used, but that is not what beer bread is all about.
  • Water – less than a litre. It must not have chemicals in it.
  • Salt – 12g
  • Various seeds and toppings of your choice.


  1. Get the starter happening

In a 500ml or 1l mason jar combine 100g trub, 60g flour and 100ml of water (no chemicals in it though, they will kill the yeasts). Mix thoroughly and leave for a few hours. If your trub is fresh (less than a month old and has been refrigerated) place the mason jar in a bowl as it may very well overflow. (Check the ceiling photo. This one blew its top!) Leave the starter until it gets really active. This should take approximately 4 hours at room temperature.

Beer trub, flour and water= your starter

Beer trub has some really active yeast!

It twisted the top off … and BOOM!

2. The Bulk Rise

Now is the time to mix in the rest of the ingredients and let that trub yeast get refreshed and go to work! Combine the following dry ingredients:

  • 545g of flour. This can be your choice. Just as in beer making the grains you use determines the flavour, so it is true in bread making. Since trub has those hoppy beery qualities in abundance, my suggestion would be to try heavier whole grain flours: whole wheat, rye, red fife. Some white all purpose flour is fine too. (note the similarities to your grain bills?)

    Dry ingredients for the bulk rise
  • 12g salt
  • 25g DME (for you non brewers this is dry malt extract) or another sugar.

Now mix in the wet ingredients:

  • 285g of water. This could be other liquids, though I would not suggest beer, as there is plenty if beeriness in the trub.
  • 109g of starter: the trub/flour/water you just refreshed

  • Plus water and starter

Mix it all thoroughly together, turn it out on a counter and knead (wet your hands with water, don’t add more flour) until everything is nicely combined. If it gets a little sticky, wet your hands

at the start of the bulk rise

End of the bulk rise

some more.

Place your bulk rise in a bowl and cover with a very damp towel. This can be left at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it is doubled in size. You can also stick it in the fridge overnight.

3. Proofing

For this super simple first go at it, I’m advising you use a typical loaf pan.



S&F: stretch and fold over


At this point I would taste it to see where it is at for bitterness. I don’t usually do this for bread, but with the hoppiness in the trub, you might want to. Heat up a frying pan (cast iron is best), flatten out a small piece of dough you have pinched off, and put it dry into your pan at a medium heat. It will rise and get brown. Turn it a couple of times. After a couple of minutes it will be ready. Taste it. If you like what you have then go for it. If you feel it is too bitter, add some sweetener – honey, maple syrup, DME. Repeat the process (if you like).


Now that the basic taste of the bread is where you want it, shape it more or less into a shape that will nicely fit in your pan. You can add other things: cereals, seeds, cornmeal – whatever your brewer’s heart desires. Sprinkle your additives on or roll the dough in them.

To place the bread in its pan, tear off enough parchment paper to hold the loaf. I advise parchment paper as it makes the loaf super easy to extract.

If you are baking it right away, leave it for about an hour at room temperature. If you want to wait overnight or a similar longish period, put it in the fridge for 8-24 hours at this point. Just make sure it is covered with a damp cloth.

Shaped into a loaf, you can add seeds etc. on the crust if you like.

4. Baking

Turn your oven to 450F. When it reaches cooking temperature, score the loaf: using a sharp knife cut a slash from one end to the other. The blade should be at an angle and not go in more than a few cm/1/4”.

Just before it goes in, slash from one end to the other.

At this point you can also brush on a variety of crust caremelizing liquids – either water, oil or egg white.

Bake as follows: You will be using 3 different temperatures.

You proofed it at room temperature You proofed it in the fridge
12 minutes at 450F/230C 16 minutes at 450F/230C
12 minutes at 425F/218C 16 minutes at 425F/218C
12 minutes at 400F/205C 16 minutes at 400F/205C

If you are unsure if it is ready, test it with an instant read thermometer (you are a brewer, you will have one of these!). It should be at an internal temperature of between 190F (88C) – 205F(95C).

Once out of the oven let it cool off for about 15 minutes – then dig in. You will find it pairs so excellently with the beer you brew!

Further discussion….


What is presented here is a precise recipe yielding a 950 or so gram loaf. You can easily adjust it using my handy bread calculator spreadsheet.

The highlighted cells can be changed by the user, however the other cells are all formulas and the cells are protected. The two key cells are B6 and B8.

In B6 you control the ratio of flour to starter. Making regular sourdough, I typically have this set for a 3:1 recipe. For trub starters, I suggest it be set to 5 or 6 – a higher 5:1 ratio.

B8 is the amount of trub starter to use. Remember that the trub starter is what resulted from initially combining trub with water and flour. In this recipe, you will have trub starter left over. Put it in the fridge and you can use it a day or two later. You can also refresh it with the following ratios of flour and water: 1 part trub starter, 1 part water, 60% of the starter weight in flour. If you wanted to be adventurous you could even use it to get your next brew going! What you are doing is using flour instead of wort to refresh and strengthen the yeast.

B7 is the hydration – what is presented is a fairly dry 60% hydration loaf. You could nudge this up, but if you are trying it for the first time, just leave it as it is.

Where next?

If you loved doing this you will want to do it some more. You can! You can keep refreshing your starter using equal amounts of the old starter and fresh water, with 60% of the starter weight in flour. The hoppiness will dissipate the more flour refreshing you do until you will eventually have your own strain of sourdough starter.

If you want to explore even further, check out my blog on sourdough here:

More sourdough related posts

Making sourdough easy and ‘just in time’

More fun with Sourdough: Party Bites

Fun stuff to do with sourdough

Backwoods Sourdough

As well as the following bread resources here:

Facebook groups

Plus some other cool sites


Whole Wheat Croissants

March 12 2019: A postscript to this blog: I’ve noticed this blog has received more attention than any of my other (frankly) more useful bread blogs. What’s up with that? I’m genuinely curious.

Please let me know how you found it & what intrigued you about it!

Beer BBQ sauce

I’ve enjoyed making my own condiments, and many of these have been blogged about. I’ve tried my own BBQ sauces on a number of occasions, usually the result of playing with the braise a meat has been slowly cooking away in. One of my favorite vehicles for this is Gordon Ramsay’s BBQ Spare ribs recipe in his World Kitchen book (ISBN-10 55470-199-6) – page 243. It involves a LOT of sauce, and wonderfully complex flavors.

We (my son and I) decided to do ribs for dinner but we did have different approaches to it. He wanted to wrap them up in tin foil and bake them – more or less in their own juices – slowly for a number of hours, then finish them on the BBQ. I had more or less an opposite approach – the Ramsay big liquid braise. We did a combination of both. I pointed out that there was an oven conflict: I needed to bake bread and squash – and suggested using a crock pot.

We cut the ribs into portion sizes – 3-4 bones a serving. The ribs were also briefly cured: 1.5% salt (weigh the ribs, use 1.5% of the weight as your salt and sugar quantities), sugar, pepper, cloves. They went in the crock-pot at 250F/120C with a good amount of the braising liquid on the bottom and slathered on top. After 90 minutes, they were definitely done. Until they went on the BBQ they were kept warm in the braise at about 150F/65C.

But its all about the sauce as far as I was concerned. I wanted a supply of amazing home-made BBQ sauce, but I also wanted to play with it – notably I had a failed stout a while ago and am always looking for ways to use it in cooking. Off course when you add beer to something like this in significant proportions, it does tend to change everything. It definitely did so here – so much so that the Ramsay recipe became a launching point for a new recipe.

Here’s Ramsay’s recipe first:

2 litres water
2 tbsp tomato paste1½ medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
3/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
2 dried red chillis
6 racks (approx. 550g each) of pork spareribs (each 18-20cm long, 6 ribs per rack)
For the barbecue glaze
4 tbsp dark molasses
2 onion, finely chopped

4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp English mustard
2 tbsp cider vinegar

A few dashes of tabasco

Juice of 1 lemon
1. In a large saucepan add the water, tomato paste, onions, garlic, peppercorns, cloves and chilli. Bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 15 minutes.
2. Add the ribs making sure they are covered (if not add more water) and bring back up to a gentle simmer. Simmer for approx 45 minutes, adding more water if it reduces too much. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile place 300ml of the liquid from the ribs in a small saucepan. Boil the liquid until reduced by half. Add the molasses, chopped onion mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, lemon and salt. Stir over the heat to combine thoroughly. Brush this mixture liberally over the blanched ribs.
4. Cook the ribs on a barbecue or grill for approximately 1-2 minutes each side until well coloured.
©Gordon Ramsay 200[8]. All rights reserved

After considerable tasting and adding and generally having fun experimenting using his recipe as a base, here is what I came up with:

Home Cook Explorer’s Beer BBq Sauce


1st set – the braising liquid

  • 1L stout or ale (if you have a choice, use a less hoppy brew)
  • 500ml soup stock
  • 300ml tomato sauce
  • 200 ml tomato paste
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves, mashed
  • 3/4 tsp peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp – a pinch – red chili flakes
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 100 ml maple syrup
  • 50-100ml honey, to taste – according to the hoppiness of the beer.
  • 1-2 tsp salt – but add to taste


2nd set

  • 60 ml molasses
  • 100g honey
  • 30 g English mustard
  • 1 lemon
  • Worcestershire sauce – to taste – about 100ml


  1. In a large saucepan add the beer, tomato sauce, soup stock, 100ml honey, 2 tbsp sugar, 100ml maple syrup, salt, tomato paste, onions, garlic, peppercorns, cloves and chilli.
  2. Taste – particularly for salt and sweetness. The more hoppy your beer is the more it needs to be countered by sugar and salt. It should taste adequately salty, and slightly sweet.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 15 minutes.
  4. At this point in the process this can be used as a braising liquid for your ribs or whatever you are BBQing.The meat should be held at 185F/85C for about 90 minutes. This could be in the oven (set to about 225F/107C), a crock pot with temperature control, stovetop (suggest using a pot in boiling water and a thermostat) or sous vide cooker
  5. Add all remaining ingredients (molasses, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, remaining honey, mustard.)
  6. Bring to a boil for several minutes, then using an immersion blender, thoroughly puree the sauce.
  7. Taste for saltiness, sweetness and acidity. Start with salt: it should not have a distinct salty taste – but the salt should enhance the inevitable complexity. There are 3 types of sugar in it already, so if it needs more, add whatever feels good in the moment – a little at a time. Finally, there should be sufficient acid tang from the tomatoes, beer, and lemon. If more is required, try a splash of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar until it feels right.
  8. Return to a boil and reduce for about 10 minutes, stirring often to ensure it does not stick. It should become thick.
  9. Take off the boil and serve or can it.
  10. If canning, follow your usual water bath protocols. In 250ml containers it should be boiled (assuming sauce is already north of 150F/65C) for about 10-12 minutes. This quantity will make between 1-1.5L depending on the amount of reduction.

Some final thoughts….

Well that was fun. I hardly expected it would evolve this way. Previously I had thought that the braising process was absolutely integral to the making of the sauce. It arguably is, as in the braising, the fat is rendered into the sauce, and contributes its own fullness, complexity and wonderful flavour. Because of the boiling and pureeing, the fat is fully emulsified into the sauce, and so you won’t get a fat layer on top.

The pureeing process is different than what Ramsay describes. His instructions are to strain the braising liquid. I did try that with a cup of it, and thought to myself, “this looks like wonderfully tasty stuff in the strainer, and the liquid left over looks pretty thin.” So back into the sauce it went, and out came the immersion blender. It should be noted that his purpose in doing this was to get a smooth glaze, and not to make bbq sauce.

My son made an interesting comment when tasting it. He is a BBQ sauce aficionado, but relies on commercial stuff. He noted that it is much more complex, and also less sweet. He said that it really needs to go on the meat for its complexity to shine through. The commercial sauces are apparently so sweet they can be eaten on their own. I’ll have to take his word on that. The complexity is clear: the molasses, maple syrup, cloves, beer malts, hops and tomato are all strong tastes on their own.

The other interesting learning here is that there are multiple ways to prepare ribs. The keys to it are flavoring – the cure or braise the meat is in before and during cooking – and the temperature/how long. It needs to be beyond 180F/82C for the meat to soften and detach from the bone, but it can’t cook too long or else you have pulled pork. Please see Stefan’s excellent blogs covering these issues. And

Next Steps

Since this was definitely experimental, the quantities here are more suggested than firm. Next time I feel the BBQ sauce urge, I’ll start by replicating this, and see what tweaks are needed, and record the results. I’m reasonably confident that it will work well and be replicable as is.  These quantities yielded about 2L of sauce. Perhaps if you try this you can comment on what modifications you made to it.

Xbeeriment with sourdough yeast

Xbeeriment with sourdough yeast

I love to experiment with food as is clear from my other blogs. A couple of weeks ago this turned to beer. Here’s how it unfolded. I’ll also apologize in advance here. Brewers are going to know what I am on about here. The rest of the world not so much.

A month previously I was making a stout, and it stalled out at 1.024. If you’re a brewer you know that this is not good news. Your yeast stopped doing its thing, well before all the sugars were fermented. Once that happens there is not a lot you can do about it. But I did. I pitched some sourdough starter in it thinking ‘what have I got to lose?’ It turns out plenty. The sourdough did a great job of fermenting the brew right down to 1.003 which means a that just about all of that sugar got fermented. However on the way, it also changed it to vinegar. Perhaps someone could be generous and say that I now have a sour stout. But really. Don’t think so. As beer vinegar its good – all 6L of it.

But I wanted to explore further what the effect of sourdough would be on fermentation if I used it uniquely. I had no idea what it will turn out like once its been in the bottle for 6 weeks.

I decided I would make a brew and split it in half to pitch the yeast. One would get SD and the other would get sourdough. As for the grains, truth be told I was at the end of my supply and needed to use stuff up. That is why the quantities are a little strange

Here is the recipe that came about:

This is for a 6 litre batch

11 litres of water

Grain bill

.95kg Pilsner

.81kg Maris otter

.2 kg White wheat

50g Caramel 20

50g Carapils


14g Tettnang (17.9 IBU)


  • ½ the batch received sourdough: 200g very active SD yeast was pitched in 400g 1.035 wort about 10 hours before pitching
  • ½ the batch received 2.4 g of Lallemand Belle Saison, hydrated for about 30 minutes in RO water.


My process was pretty simple BIAB:

  • 11 Litres of water in a 20L tun
  • BIAB full body for the mash. Strike temp: 74.4C; Mash 68.9C 1 hour; mash out 15 minutes to 75.6C
  • Add Tettnang at the start of the hour boil
  • I should note too that I’ve come to like using a fairly heavy boil which yields a crazy high OG, and then I use ice cubes to bring it down to the desired 1.060 OG


Saison is on the left, Sourdough is on the right

Usually I use the same 11 L container I measure and pour the initial water from as my fermentation vessel. This time, I used 2 gallon cider jugs. The SD refresh was pitched in one and the Belle Saison in the other.


Here are my observations at bottling:

Belle Saison Sourdough
OG 1.060 1.060
FG 1.010 (ABV 6.6) 1.011 (ABV 6.5)
APPEARANCE Darker, clearer, a lot more trub, bits of flocculant on the top Lighter, cloudy, more settled, a lot less trub
TASTE A good slightly hoppy ale – slight floral and spice notes A more neutral ale but there is a hint of sourness (which makes sense – SD has lots of lactic acid bacteria)
Total volume at bottling 5.75 L 6.25L (there was that much difference in the trub.

Apologies for the blurry pic but you can see they both dried out nicely.

As you can see there’s a lot more trub in the Saison brew.

Some interim conclusions and next steps

  • I’m really delighted both brews worked themselves down to 1.010. I must be doing something right.
  • If my beer yeast were to get destroyed, I’d still be brewing
  • I’d like to see the effect of changing my hops – what would a low IBU and a high IBU similar experiment yield? I have heard that hops tend to destroy the LABs so perhaps really low IBU may result in a sour beer

I will finish this blog in 6 weeks when I taste the final product!

Yeast connection part 2

The Yeast Connection part 2

Sept. 18-19

This blog is a continuation of the previous one exploring various aspects of yeast in its manifestations in beer and bread.

  • That beer bread where I used the last dregs of the recently bottled beer rose. It took a full 24 hours at room temperature to get itself sorted out. Its now been in the fridge for about 15 hours. I took off a little pinch to taste (heat a frying pan, a little oil, flatten the bread sample, cook, observe if it rises, eat) It also passed the stretch test 20170918_063800.jpg
  • I thought I’d like it as a boule – but realize I need a suitable rising container, so here it is in some parchment paper ready for its long fridge rise. 20170918_065555.jpg
  • The beer is now bubbling away, and the reconstituted yeast brew (right) is much more active than the basic yeast version. 20170918_094347.jpg
  • Meanwhile my apple and pear ferments are bubbling away nicely. I’m going to try a few experiments with them:
    • Cider: propagate a yeast slurry using organic apple juice in the same way I do a beer yeast refresh: (per gallon) 200g juice (hopefully at 1.035) and 20g of the yeast in the jar. Same for the pear.
    • Beer (why not?) same thing – but use my beer wort mix
    • Bread: 2 starters – Elaine at foodbod suggests equal parts water and flour (which would yield a 100% hydration starter). Now this will definitely be interesting to compare with my ‘old faithful’ SD starter. Will I get hints of apple and pear? 20170919_112835.jpg

September 20

I had to bake that beer bread today. It was just going too long in the fridge. I didn’t need to do it for bread – there’s already lots – but it really had fermented enough at nearly 48 hours. It rose, and did its yeasty breadish thing, but had I done it earlier it would more have resembled a bowler hat and not a volcano. The taste however was excellent. I’m glad I added the maple syrup. There was no bitterness as I tasted in the pre rise taste, but the taste was wonderfully rich and malty. In retrospect I should have made about 1.5 x the recipe using water as additional liquid. Or indeed not. This is a bread that is no shrinking background bread. Its the star of the show. I imagine it with roast squash, your thanksgiving turkey, a rich thick soup. And of course it will ideally suit the beer you brewed from it. That said it will be a month before you drink that and the bread will be long gone. It will NOT however a light summer salad. Here is what it looks like:


It is definitely worth doing this again next time I brew. Of course one can also use this last not full bottle for other things too – like marinating your meat, maybe cooking beans. Now there’s an idea!

Sooo…. In summary… if you are a brewer who has not made bread before:

  • Weigh the beer/trub mix.
  • Divide the weight by .6 to give the amount of flour to use. You can use whatever flour you like, just understand this will really affect the taste.
  • Multiply the weight of the flour by 2%. This is the amount of salt to add.
  • Mix and knead the flour and the beer until it is all well mixed. Place in a bowl and leave for 20 minutes
  • Add the salt and knead until it is well integrated. Taste it – the hoppiness could make it too bitter. This can be countered with a sweetener of your choice (which will also aid the fermentation going forward.)
  • let rise at room temperature for about about 24 hours.
  • Stretch and fold – a kind of kneading – look it up on Youtube – and then shape to the shape you wish it to be. At this point you can add stuff – seeds, nuts, other grains, oil….. Taste it again using that ‘fry a little bit of dough’ method described above.
  • Leave it at room temperature for a few hours or stick it in the fridge for about 24 or more hours.
  • For baking – oven to 450F. Depending on how much you have, it will be anything from 30-60 minutes. But if you are a brewer you should have a digital thermometer on a long probe. Stick that in after about 25 minutes and wait until its over 190F but not over 205.
  • Let it cool for about 20 minutes.

September 22:

Check out the apple ferment! Its in its glory now!


September 26

  • Lots has happened, including my courses, which is why I have not been great about keeping this journal up to date.
  • The brews noted above were bottled. The ‘control sample’ with regulare old Safale 04 yeast came in at 1.020, while the reconstituted yeast came in at 1.010!! Its clear to me now. I will be using active trub, strengthened with some 1.035 wort from now on.
  • On September 24, I participated in Jan and Jim’s cider making process. My first time for this. Jim and jan are wonderful people who live off grid up in the Bruce Peninsula. Ultimate DIYers, one of their annual projects is processing their apples into all sorts of things, but mainly cider. I spent the morning with some of their city millennial friends, chopping and got to see the cider press in action. Here are a couple of photos of their set up:
  • The apple chunks are first mashed in the masher, then placed in the press. A hand screw presses down the press plate squeezing the juice out. Jim notes that since none of the trees are cultivated and grafted, they are all their own individual species. I felt very honoured to take away a gallon, which I innoculated with my apple yeast, and placed in the crawl space to ferment for goodness knows how long. For the first time I made a connection between what Sandor Katz has said about apple cider – i.e. give it oxygen and time and things will happen vs. what I have found to be succesful: dropping some champaign yeast into it. I did wonder that perhaps I did not need to add my yeast – but we will see what happens. Naturally sweet, it came in at 1.043 OG. If it fermnents all the way it should produce a 4.5% hard cider.
  • On the brewing front, I finally got to try the exbeeriment I made using sourdough starter. It was excellent and I did not expect that. What I have read notes that for sour brews one needs to think of lighter brews, pilsner and wheat malts, and light hopping. In this one I made a straight up ale with 2 row malt, and northdown hops. I was truly expecting sour, but did not get it. I’ve heard that the hops tend to kill off the lactic acid bacteria so if that happened it would definitely account for the lack of sour where it was present at the point I bottled it. Between the result noted above and this, I feel that I am much more in control and comfortable with my yeast situation and beer.
  • I’ve pureed and added fresh apple juice to my apple yeast sample, and have taken some of it to make a bread starter. Haven’t tried it yet – family is not eating enough bread.
  • I also was able to get a decent DIY stirplate going. Its super basic, and needs a lot more refinement, but I was able to use it to get a yeast happening for a 2 gallon brew. Since yeast needs oxygen in order to work well, stirring it is a good way to do this. In a stir plate, a magnet is on a motor spinning around. There’s another smaller magnet in your jar of yeast. The spinning magnet causes the other magnet to spin also. The trick is that you need to start things slowly and get it at an optimum speed for a whirlpool to happen. 20170923_110355[1].jpg
  • And to finish this blogging sequence off, my 2 gallon brew (I am trying to make a Kolsh but I have substituted so much that its likely turned out to be just another pilsner.) and its buddy, the apple cider. I can hardly wait until next week to see how they turned out. If I see any fermenting action I will just leave them there. You can see that the beer is already developing a nice Kreusen. The cider may take longer.

All of this goes to show how flexible, variable, and also powerful this microscopic fungi called yeast is. Its key to a significant number of foods and drinks we not just consume, but really enjoy. If anything, I hope these 2 blogs inspires people to experiment, to ask “what if….?” set up and experiment, and have fun with it!

The yeast connection

The Yeast Chronicles (part 1)

Or How to love your trub and find all kinds of uses for it.

A warning: This blog is a tad nerdy. It’s a journal kind of blog chronicling my thoughts and mini experiments regarding bread, beer, and what joins them at the hip, yeast.

This blog entry chronicles my thoughts around yeast and its connections to both beer and bread over the course of a week when I did not have to think about the courses I’ll be teaching shortly.. In it I am trying a variety of experiments that consider the use of the same yeast samples in both baked products and beers.

In this phase of things, I’ve been inspired/influenced by the following bloggers and resources:

Bread Cakes and Ale Lots of great info on the connection and history of beer and bread from a British perspective. this is a blog all about beer experimentation. Great ideas!

Foodbod where I was inspired to try the apple fermentation

The Early English Bread Project

September 9th

  • Used 200g of trub made from safale 04 yeast. Treated it as ‘starter’ and added 200g water and 120g flour; let ferment for 6 hours at room temperature. This starter is to be called ‘ale starter’
  • Used 200g of this to make a 66% hydration loaf. (dark, malty taste; not bitter)

Sept 12

  • Refreshed the ale starter; let rise 6 hours room temp, made a 1700g bulk rise. The starter still has a malty taste to it though not as dark or strong as its prior version. (note to self: try either using beer to refresh or use beer as your bread liquid. ) Bulk rise left out overnight (@ 8 hours)

Sept 13

  • Baked 900g loaf from the bulk rise (made from ale starter). Both starter and dough have performed very well.Spring is good, crumb is fine. The taste is not as malty as the earlier loaf, but it has a complexity and darkness that is not present in my usual sourdough. I’m wondering if I keep refreshing it as a SD culture if the unique flavour of the yeast will endure. yeastconnection1.jpgyeastconnevtipn2.jpg
  • I refreshed equal amounts of my original starter and my ale starter. The ale starter was considerably more vigorous.
  • Can’t make up my mind on what kind of beer to brew next.
  • Hooked up a light dimmer to an old bathroom fan to develop a stirplate. I just need to figure out how to separate the fan from its metal enclosure and build a box around it.
  • Began apple and pear yeast capture: cut up each placed in 500ml jars with RO water.
  • apple pear ferment day 1.jpg

Sept 14

  • Decided to do a beer experiment with the 2 yeasts:

What I am trying to do here: That safale 04 trub starter appears to be quite strong. What I want to do in this experiment is to compare this reconditioned yeast (now in its 4th refresh) to dry safale 04 on the following parameters:

  • Strength: Does refreshing trub using bread flour contribute to a stronger yeast? Which yeast is most effective to take down a 1.070OG brew? The results will be clear – what is the FG? IN comparing this starter to my sourdough starter, it is more vigorous.
  • Taste: how different is the taste? the yeast is going to be the same. But in refreshing it 3-4 X over a week with bread flour, have LAB’s developed to sour the beer?


  • Make a 2 gallon brew mashed, boiled and hopped together.
  • refresh starter and brew morning prepare 20g ale starter with 200g 1.035 wort; use safale 04 dry for the other batch. Divide equally into 2 gallon jugs.


  • 1.83kg Weyerman Pilsner (83.4%)
  • 360g Briess Carapils (16.6%)

Hops: Perle – 12.74 gOG 1.070 (came out at 1.062)

  • IBU: 20.1
  • Colour 8.1 EBC
  • Est ABV: 6.5%

Comparing the 2 starters for bread:

  • Took my 2 yeasts to see the difference in the same loaf of bread: same flour mix, same hydration, done at same time, in same banneton. Bulk rise set up around 1PM; will set up loaves tonight, bake off tomorrow AM.

2yeastsamd their doughs.jpg

Sept 15

  • The bake-off
    • The ale starter rose better – but not a huge difference
    • The crumb was similar – fairly closed. (I had used 50% durum flour)
    • The ale starter still retains a rich malty sense to it.
    • The SD starter has a definite LAB taste profile – more tangy
    • Conclusions:
      • both make excellent bread, both are very different.
      • The ale starter is more vigorous
      • Its always worth setting up an ale starter when one does a brew.
      • I’ll keep my SD starter: its been going for 3 years or more, and is likely changing as its own subspecies
    • Questions:
      • Will different brews yield different flavour profiles in bread? (They should)
      • How will the difference in the starters affect the taste in crackers? (next experiment)
      • Can I even reasonably maintain 2 starters?
      • & what happens when the apple and pear yeast captures are also part of the yeast collection?

Sept 16

It’s brew day.

  • The day started by preparing the reconstituted starter (6AM): 200g of 1.035 wort and 20g of the starter. The idea here is to use the wort to build up and strengthen the yeast. I haven’t yet developed an effective stir plate, so I whisk it often throughout the day. I’m anticipating it will be pitched this afternoon. 20170916makingstarter.jpg
  • I’ve done the mash, boiled the wort and will shortly divide the wort into 2 gallon jugs and pitch the yeasts. I used the same recipe as for my first sd brew except I’m going with Perle hops. It came in at 1.062 – a high enough OG to test how well the 2 yeasts will perform. The one with reconstituted yeast is higher as a result of the pitch being a total of 200g. 20170916ale1.jpg
  • I also made a cracker dough with the ale starter: 250g starter 250g red fife flour, 7g water, 37g oil, 12g salt, 5 g each cumin and fennel. Rolled into a ball, into fridge. Let the yeasts slowly discover their own food source while battling excess salt. I’m curious about the flavours that will come through from this yeast in these crackers.
  • Finally today, I pulled the last piece of dough from the trub dough I set up a few days ago. I added herbs – basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic, pepper – and also butter. As the picture suggests the dough was rolled out, the ingredients added, and then it was rolled up and kneaded out again into a foccacia shape.20170916beerbread4.jpg

Sept 17

  • Crackers were rolled out and baked. These were used using my bread spreadsheet – a universally editable spreadsheet to be used for any bread formulations. I added fennel and cumin to this. Note the parchment paper. It works well to roll it out on parchment paper as it makes the handling a lot easier, especially as it tends to break apart when it is quite thin. The result: Interesting, though not my best cracker. The beer aspect does indeed come through, and I should have just left it like that. With the cumin and fennel, there’s just too much going on for the pallet. This is a technique that I would not do with fresh trub. The trub for this one had been refreshed 4 times with flour over the week. Using fresh trub, for the 300 or so grams of starter used in the recipe, I would probably do 3 parts water and 1 part trub: 180g water, 60g trub, 146g flour. 20170917trubcrackers2.jpg20170917trubcrackers1.jpg
  • I did one more experiment – its still happening. Yesterday I also bottled a brew – an American pale ale. At the end of the bottling I had a partly filled bottle with a fair amount of trub and beer. Since the trub is a lot of used yeast, I decided to attempt using this bottle as both the yeast and liquid in a bread. Here is how that went down: I poiured the beer into a bowl and weighed it – 300g. Then I divided this by .66 to give me the flour needed to give a 66% hydration loaf: 454g. I then multiplied this by 2% for the appropriate amount of salt (9g). Its (hopefully) rising, though I don’t know how long its all going to take.
  • Meanwhile my apple and pear ferments are bubbling away nicely.

It has been a week now of fun and experimenting. I do appreciate that the only ones left reading are those who might be interested themselves in this amusement of beer, bread and yeast. That is after all one of the prerogatives of the blogger – to be as self indulgent as they want – and I’ve definitely been that.

But wait ….. There’s more! (just kidding) But seriously, after a week of this Its time to wrap and post. I’ll likely continue a second edition next!

My progress with beer

My progress with beer

I’ve been having a lot of fun with beer lately. This blog chronicles some of what I’ve been up to.

I’ve now been brewing for about 18 months, and learned a lot, the hard way. That said, only one brew had to become ‘beer vinegar’. Some have been great, and others simply OK. A few I have really loved.

Beer making has followed my usual cooking M.O: it starts with a scientific question: “What would happen if….?” Sometimes it has been more of a design question: “Can I clone??”

The images are all from beersmith. It really doesn’t add anything to show pictures, nor would it add anything to make this a “here’s how you do it’ blog. If you want to make beer, download Beersmith to both your desktop and cell phone. Take time to read a lot, and especially set up your equipment profiles. Then you will be all set.

Without further ado, here are a few reflections on the brews I’ve been doing.

Sour Beer

Sourbeer is a particular style of beer. Wikipedia describes it this way: “At one time, all beers were sour to some degree. As pure yeast cultures were not available, the starter used from one batch to another usually contained some wild yeast and bacteria.[1] Unlike modern brewing, which is done in a sterile environment to guard against the intrusion of wild yeast,[2] sour beers are made by intentionally allowing wild yeast strains or bacteria into the brew. Traditionally, Belgian brewers allowed wild yeast to enter the brew naturally through the barrels or during the cooling of the wort in a coolship open to the outside air [3] – an unpredictable process that many modern brewers avoid.[4]

I also found a sour beer blog! which in turn led me to the ‘Milk the Funk” facebook group which is dedicated to using wild yeasts in beer making.

My current interest has been in using sourdough starter to pitch into my beer. Working through Yeast I calculated that if I take 20g. of vigorous sourdough starter and refresh it in 200g of.1.035 wort first thing in the morning (or late at night before) of a brew day, it will have sufficiently fermented to pitch into a gallon (3.5 L) of beer.

I’ve tried this a couple of ways now: with pilsner malt as the base, and also with a more ale based base. I’ve heard that hops can kill the lactic acid bacteria – we will see: the ale version was fairly heavily hopped. I’ve begun to drink the pilsner version and so far I am really pleased with the results.

(Note: if you want to see the recipes in more detail, I would suggest clicking on the picture to either open it in a new tab and then expanding it, or saving it as  an image then enlarging it)


Above is the recipe used for the pilsner version, and below, the ale version.

The next recipe is one I named ‘June Ale. I was trying to use up grains and hops purchased over the course of last winter – no more and no less. Sometimes one gets surprisingly great results. This one turned out quite wonderfully, as a straight up ale. Great mouth feel, great head, very smooth after taste. I’m definitely going to do this again.

The final recipe is one where I wanted to explore Citra hops, and found this one in beersmith. The citrus is very pronounced, a very bright beer. Apparently this is the kind of thing that is all the rage these days. I’m quite delighted with it myself, though I would not want to make this the only beer on hand.

Not quite sure where to take this next, but here are a few random thoughts:

  • Continue with the small brews, but make 2 gallon batches the norm. This way I get about 12 500ml bottles for my efforts. I’m finding that getting only 6 for all that work is getting a little much. I will still do one gallon batches for experimental efforts.
  • Up to now my goal has been to make a decent ale. I’ve now achieved that. Next I want to have a small variety on hand that includes an ale, a sour beer, a lightly hopped pilsner type ale, and a stout not to mention the odd experiment as well.
  • I want to do more experiments with capturing wild yeasts – but more about that in later blogs.

My yeast experiments

April 9

For about a year now I have been trying to brew beer. I’ve been moderately successful, but nowhere near what many homebrewers are.

As always I am playing with my food, wondering ‘what if’. This is one of those process blogs which hopefully will get updated on a daily basis over the course of these experiments.

I am trying to answer the question of how can I best propagate and refresh beer yeast.

I am sure it can be done, after all brewers have been brewing beer for millennia and most of that time they did not even know there was this thing called yeast until Louis Pasteur figured it all out.

Here is the problem with yeast and beer. The yeast consumes the sugars, giving alcohol as a byproduct. The trouble is, alcohol kills yeast. So the yeast in one’s trub is, I understand, pretty degraded. For this reason – I believe – the conventional wisdom among brewers is not to reuse your yeast more than 3 times. But, I’m telling myself, that can’t be quite right, as farmers and brewers brewed for centuries without the luxury of a local brew store and yeast makers like White Labs, Wyeyeast and the like. Now on the other hand their beers could all have been like my last batch which fell from 1.065 and stalled out at 1.030. So maybe bad attenuation was the norm.

What I have read is that to propagate and refresh yeast, you should use a weak wort – about 1.030-1.040. This is 1 part dry malt extract (DME) to 10 parts water by weight. I also understand that the optimal amount of yeast slurry is likewise about 1 part slurry to 10 parts wort.

On the bread side of things – we know that bakers and brewers have co-existed and worked with each other for millennia. That is pretty obvious. They both are in the business of propagating yeast and making things from it. In one case, the yeast is nourished by the grain, the other it is nourished by the byproduct of the grain – the barley malt.

So this has led me to trying out a couple of experiments.

Experiment 1: yeast starter from Trub

April 7-8th

In this case I want to find the optimal time and conditions for propagating beer yeast using old trub that has been refrigerated since bottling a few days earlier. My cylinder holds 180ml of liquid and the hydrometer. I’ve combined 17g slurry, 17g DME, and 170g reverse osmosis water, thoroughly mixed and poured into a graduated cylinder with my hydrometer in it at 6AM – 21C. It registered 1.032. During the day there was clear fermentation, but I could not call it vigorous. It probably reached its peak by late evening (15 hours) and by the next morning (6AM) it was down to 1.010. So it would appear that between 15-18 hours is an optimal time – but I need to try it a couple of other times.

The next morning I took 17g of this slurry, 17g of DME 170g of H2O stirred, and repeated. That one is still ongoing. 12 hours on it has slowed up.

Experiment 2: bread starter

April 8

The extra slurry got me thinking about bread starter. What if I used that slurry to propagate a bread starter the same way I would my usual starter. The difference would be that it would not have the time to begin developing lactic acid bacteria. But might it be more effective at restoring yeast strength than my wort?? So: 100g of that 1st night slurry and 60g whole wheat flour. It really took off and was bubbling away within an hour. (Lag time? What’s that? ) I decided to let it go for a couple of hours. Then my next step: to use this as a slurry instead of the trub from the beer. This was set up at noon, its now 5PM and it appears to be going strong, though the hydrometer is still reading 1.030. I’ll monitor it through the evening. This setup had 17g of the 166% starter, 17g DME, 170g H20

Experiment 3

Onto the bread: (April 8)

I still had about 50g of the first nights slurry left over after experiment 2. . What to do with it? What about bread? So: I mixed up a white baguette dough – 80% hydration, (300g AP flour, 50g slurry and 190g water, 6 g salt. It too has been fermenting nicely. After 6 hours I poured it (well – it was the best it would handle!) in a baguette liner and stuck it in the fridge. I can tell it’s going to be quite chewy. (PS: It was indeed chewy. It had a fairly tight crumb, and was not quite as flavorful as sourdough. )

This experiment goes to show that with a little yeast of any kind you can do things with. You just need to make sure your flour is weighed, the salt comes in at 2% and you are specific in your hydration. I tend to go with multiples of 100g as this becomes easy to sort out the salt and liquid. A 300g flour at 70% hydration therefore needs 6g of salt and 210ml (g) of water. Using a slurry like this means that it needs to be calculated as part of the water.

Experiment 4: Yeast starter from the bread starter

April 8

Since the bread starter (experiment 2) was so resoundingly fast acting, I wondered about turning it back and using it to propogate a beer starter.

April 8, noon

So following my now usual ratios, I took 17g of this very active starter, mixed it with 17g DME and 170g H2O. I used my hydrometer cylinder and hydrometer to check on its progress. It started at 1.030.

April 8: 8PM

WTF!!! The hydrometer reading is at 1.040. What happened?

April 9 9:00AM

Its still active, reading at 1.020. I’ve also refreshed my sourdough starter, and thinking of using some of this starter to do sourbeer as it will have the lactic acid bacteria going strong. I’m thinking of doing a second gallon of beer using the flour starter from Experiment 4.

Time to make some beer….

2 PM April 9

I refreshed my 2 little experiments – the one using only the trub, and the one that had had the flour as food as well. In both these cases, I used 200g H2O, 20g starter and 20g DME. Both have started at 1.030. My plan is to brew 2 gallons, but pitch one gallon with one yeast and 1 gallon with the other.

April 10th

Brew day! Somehow I messed things up but it should turn out ok in the end. I added too much water. I needed to add a bunch of malt extract to bring things to an acceptable og (1.062 when all is said and done). But it worked out as I have enough wort for 3 x 3 litre jugs. The third will be pitched with safale 04 as a kind of control sample.  I pitched all 200g of the refreshed starter from the 2 experiments, and 20% of the Safale04 yeast which is normally intended for a 5 gallon brew (yes I hydrated it for about 30 minutes in 50ml of RO water). I also added 4g of yeast nutrient to each batch. All is good.

April 11

20 hours after pitching, all 3 jugs are actively fermenting. The two which used the old trub refreshed a couple of times are significantly more active than the Safale04 control sample. This is very hopeful because I would dearly love to be able to keep developing my own yeast for beer in the way I do for bread.

April 23 Fermentation is done!

My experiment 2 jug comes in at 1.012 YAAAY!  (6.65%)

This is the one where I added flour to the starter and let that develop

My experiment 1 jug came in at 1.018. Respectable. Better than stalling out in the mid 20’s. (5.85%)

My ‘control’ jug with safale04 yeast comes in at 1.020. (5.58%)

I have not yet bottled them  – that will come likely tomorrow.

Generally they all taste the same – a decent ale – nothing to be ashamed about.

Some tentative conclusions:

It would appear that the addition of flour to the trub and allowing it to ferment in the same way one would do with sourdough has strengthened the yeast. It is worth pursuing this more.

It would also seem that refreshing the yeast with successive fresh wort, leaving it a day between each one also makes for a stronger yeast than the basic dry yeast.

Further explorations and questions:

  1. I need to explore 2 ways of working with the flour: The variable is the point at which the flour is introduced.
    • refresh trub with wort once, refresh that with flour, refresh a third time with wort
    • begin the trub refresh with flour and then a second and third time with wort.
  2. I still want to work more with refreshing the trub with wort. I have 2 main questions here:
    • What is the optimum number of times to refresh before I hit the law of diminishing returns?
    • How much should I pitch? Which gets at one of the biggest questions: What’s really my cell count?