Beer Bread


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

The Combination of Skill, Good Taste, and Curiosity is auspicious. Martin Philip is a fine baker at the King Arthur Flour Bakery, and he has all these attributes. One day he asked about developing a bread using beer. Together we began an exploration that lasted several weeks, during which we baked numerous incarnations of the bread until at last we felt it was the best it could be. We varied the different proportions of flours and the total percentage of pre-fermented flour; we experimented with different types of pre-ferments to see which would give the bread the flavor we wanted (ultimately we settled on using both a rye sourdough and a liquid levain, which in combination with the other ingredients yielded a wonderful round depth of flavor). We adjusted the ratio of beer to water, and worked with different beer styles, ultimately settling on a hearty dark ale. Finally, we tested the results based on overnight fermentation compared to a direct process, concluding that we preferred the slightly milder flavor of the bread when it was baked the day it was mixed. As bakers, we have the fortunate opportunity to be ever and always engaged in the evolution of our trade. One need not look further than to Martin’s initiative in the development of the Beer Bread to verify that statement.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 21%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 16 lb 8 kg 1 lb, 9.6 oz 80 %
Whole-Rye Flour 3 lb 1.5 kg 4.8 oz 15 %
Whole-Wheat Flour 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Water 9.6 lb 4.8 kg 15.4 oz 48 %
Dark Ale 6 lb 3 kg 9.6 oz 30 %
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz 2 %
Yeast .14 lb, fresh .07 kg, fresh .08 oz, instant dry .7%
Total Yield 36.14 lb 18.07 kg 3 lb, 9.7 oz 180.7 %

Rye Sourdough

Whole-Rye Flour 2.2 lb 1.1 kg 3.5 oz (1 cup) 100 %
Water 1.83 lb .913 kg 2.9 oz ( cup) 83 %
Mature Sourdough Culture .11 lb .055 kg .2 oz (2 tsp) 5 %
Total 4.14 lb 2.068 kg 6.6 oz

Liquid-Levain Build

Bread Flour 2 lb 1 kg 3.2 oz (¾ cup) 100 %
Water 2.5 lb 1.25 kg 4 oz (½ cup) 125 %
Mature Culture (Liquid) .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (1 T + tsp) 20 %
Total 4.9 lb 2.45 kg 7.8 oz

Final Dough

Bread Flour 14 lb 7 kg 1 lb, 6.4 oz (5⅛ cups)
Whole-Rye Flour .8 lb .4 kg 1.3 oz ( cup)
Whole-Wheat Flour 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz ( cup)
Water 5.27 lb 2.637 kg 8.5 oz (1 cup + 1 T)
Dark Ale 6 lb 3 kg 9.6 oz ( cups)
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Yeast .14 lb, fresh .07 kg, fresh .08 oz, instant dry tsp)
Rye Sourdough 4.03 lb 2.013 kg 6.4 oz (all less 2 tsp)
Liquid Levain 4.5 lb 2.25 kg 7.2 oz (all less 1 T + tsp)
Total 36.14 lb 18.07 kg 3 lb, 9.7 oz


  1. RYE SOURDOUGH: Prepare the sourdough and ripen for 14 to 16 hours at 70°F.
  2. LIQUID-LEVAIN BUILD: Prepare the liquid levain at the same time the rye sourdough is made and ripen at the same temperature until ripe, about 14 hours.
  3. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix just until the ingredients come together and the flour is hydrated. Turn off the mixer, cover the dough, and let it rest undisturbed for 20 minutes (since the yeast and salt are added at the outset, we can call this mixing method a modified autolyse technique). Turn the mixer on first speed and give the dough one or two turns in the bowl. Turn off the mixer and cover the dough. After 20 minutes give a second folding of the dough. Twenty minutes later, mix on second speed for 2 to 2½ minutes, to moderate gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 76°F.
  4. BULK FERMENTATION: 2 further hours, with a light fold after 1 hour.
  5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces (or larger—we scale these loaves at 2 pounds with excellent results); shape round. The proofing baskets can be dusted with whole-rye flour for a more rustic appearance to the final loaves.
  6. FINAL FERMENTATION: 1¼ to 1½ hours at 76°F.
  7. BAKING: With normal steam, 460°F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 440°F and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes for a 1.5-pound loaf, 30 to 40 minutes for a loaf scaled at 2 pounds. A full bake brings out the deepest fragrances and flavors.