Let’s see. I had not long made my first delivery to the Corner Shop in Crossgates so it must have been August last year when a friend said she had been asked by Jock at Woodlea Stables who it was in Limekilns was brewing beer. “You should go up and see him”, she said. I’m very glad I did. He’s a lovely bloke, who generously swaps bread, cakes and coffee for beer.
And being a baker he is a man with too much bread, especially on a Sunday when the shop closes until the following Friday.
It’s a bit a fashion just now. There’s a bit of a bandwagon about it: beer made with waste bread. There’s Toast Ale. Jaw Brew’s Hardtack. Others I’m sure but it’s not exactly new. Beer and bread have a long history together. The oldest beer recipe uses bread although more recently it has tended to go in the other direction, with beer, beer yeast and spent grains making their way into bread.
And I’m not sure I’m convinced that “eliminating food waste” is much of a reason for making beer out of bread. Bread kinda should be wasted – of all the foods with a limited shelf life, bread is surely the one that should be enjoyed as fresh as possible. The problem with most bread is that its shelf life is too long. Stuffed full of modifiers and preservatives. Real bread like Jock’s, made with just flour, water and a little salt, leavened with natural yeasts, only lasts about a day or so. And there are so many other good things that can be made with bread that’s past its best – toast, French toast, bruschetta, bread and butter pudding, panzanella – that beer seems a bit of a waste really.
No, the reason I’m making beer with Jock’s bread is a little more symbolic. It will mark a bit of a partnership, a collaboration between bread and beer. A toast. The first of my (regular, I hope) pop-up shops will be at Woodlea Stables on 1 July (licence permitting) and I thought it would be nice to combine his bread into my beer to mark the occassion.
So the bread has been cut up into cubes and dried in the oven. Rather than the slow, gentle drying that seems to be recommended, I’ve given it a good roasting to darken the crust and get a good bit of caramelisation. It’ll go in the mash with the grains and hopefully contribute a nice toasted flavour, a bit of colour and maybe a little sourdough tang to the beer.