“Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could’ve become beer, but didn’t.”Walter Thornburg ( If he is the one who actually said that)
Since quarantine came up, everyone became a baker. Sourdough now is the second thing we see the most after masks. Even our friends who barely go to kitchen are posting bread photos on Instagram. We realized it one more time, bread is the essential thing. We were so ready to learn how to make it; but in the most natural way possible. So regular bread became unglamourous all of a sudden and everything went back to traditional methods. “Sourdough” is on the stage. It is for sure a wise idea, but bread is not the only thing you can make out of it. You can brew a beer with a sourdough starter.
Wait, what is a sourdough starter?
A sourdough starter is basically a living culture of bacteria and yeast in a mixture of flour and water. Opposite of the bought yeast used in regular bread, lactobacillus here produce lactic acid which ferments the dough. You feed your sourdough starter with flour and water until it gets ready to use.
Sourdough has a long history. Ancient people were baking with sourdough until Louis Pasteur came out and developed the commercial yeast. It is not only healthy, but also sustainable. As long as you feed it, you can use sourdough for years and pass it to your children.
Combine sourdough and beer
The process of making bread can easily be transformed into brewing, since two of them are quite similar. Same lactobacillus can work as well for adding a characteristic sour taste to your beer. In some traditional methods, they ferment the beer first and add the bacteria later to get the sourness; in the fast sour method you add bacteria before the fermentation happens. Bacteria loves beer and there are techniques developing everyday. I can’t see any reason not to make beer with sourdough starter. On theory it sounds awesome. Wild yeast makes everything fantastic after all.
Yes, bread is nice; but sometimes:
Why would you eat it, if you can drink it?
How to brew beer with sourdough starter?
If you want a sour beer like Belgian Lambic or Flanders red ale, sourdough might be an extraordinary way to do it. Achieving a sour flavored beer is also possible by adding fruit or directly adding acid; however we aim to make it by using wild yeast. We will use “sourdough starter”, so Lactobacillus is our guy again.
If you are making your beer at home, chances are you have your own beer making kit and you know the process. In this case, you only need to make some changes in the fermentation phase. Instead of dry yeast, you will use “sourdough starter”.
When you let your sourdough wait too long, there will be a brown liquid on top. This liquid is a sourdough starter, but it will be your beer starter. Drain the brown liquid and use as a yeast. Send the bacteria, then let the fermentation take care of itself. Make sure the wort is cool enough not to kill the bacteria.
Finish the process and hope for the best result for this experimental technique.
At the end, sour taste may vary. We never know, because beer is a bit science and a bit touch of magic.