Liquid Bread

I believe it was Trappist monks who first referred to beer as liquid bread – as a drinkable nutritious substitute for baked loaves when some kind of fasting was in order. The theory also has been put forward that the first loaves of bread, way back at the dawn of civilization, were merely beer starters, holding yeast and fermentables in a dry form. In both cases, the underlying idea is that there is much in common between beer and bread – similar ingredients (grains, sugars, yeast), similar process (fermentation happens to a certain degree in rising bread dough), similar artisan/craftsman approach (in the best cases), and of course a large body of people making their own at home.

Like making bread, sometimes you use a recipe and sometimes you throw together whatever you have on hand. Today I sort of cleaned out the grain cupboard, looking to use up some leftover malts before they went stale. Only a few more brews before I take a couple weeks off from beer to concentrate on cyder. Based on immediate results, I might do this one again – what a beautiful deep golden color, and the aroma is amazing. I got to use up some of my 2010 hops as well, making room in the freezer for the 2011 crop which promises to be pretty good.

Amber Waves IPA
5 gallons, all-grain


  • 5 lbs. 2-row pale malt
  • 2 lbs. malted rye
  • 3 lbs. malted wheat
  • 1 lb. flaked oats
  • 1/2 lb. 30°L crystal malt
  • 1/2 oz. whole Cascade hops (home-grown)
  • 1/2 oz. whole Cluster hops (home-grown)
  • 1-1/2 oz. whole Chinook hops (home-grown)
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (@8.7% aa)
  • 1/2 oz. whole Nugget hops (home-grown)
  • White Labs American Ale Yeast blend (WLP060)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Procedure: Crush grains. Heat 15 quarts water to 164°F. Mash in grains, hold 90 minutes at 152°F. Heat another 14 quarts water to 170°F. Place Cascade, Cluster and Chinook hops in a muslin bag in the kettle. Begin runoff onto the hops, and sparge, collect 27 quarts sweet wort. Remove hops and bring wort to boiling. Add Centennial hops, boil 60 minutes. Add Nugget hops (in a muslin bag), remove kettle from heat and steep 15 minutes. Remove Nugget hops, chill to 80°F. Take a hydrometer reading and pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment eight to ten days at 70°F. Rack to secondary, condition cooler (55 – 60°F) for three to four weeks. Prime with corn sugar and bottle. Age cool (45 – 50°F) for three to four weeks.

OG: 1061
IBU’s: because most of the hops used were my own home-grown (untested), and because the majority were either “first wort” hops or dry hops, It’s virtually impossible to estimate the IBU’s of this beer. At a guess, I would say it’s probably around 85 – 90…

Note on grains: Nothing says “bread” like a mixture of wheat, barley, rye and oats. The rye is hard to mill, and the oats need to be added at the top of the mash to avoid a badly gummed-up runoff. I was tempted to use a baker’s yeast to ferment this, but couldn’t bring myself to go that far…

2 Replies to “Liquid Bread”

  1. Hi,
    Just wondering how this turned out? Was thinking of same grain bill, different hopping schedule and pitching a hefeweizen yeast….

    1. It was actually very nice for a few weeks, then it suddenly turned all Brett and sour. It was on the rich side, smooth, and I thought the hops were a good choice. Wish it hadn’t gotten infected, and wish I knew how that happened!

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