Published on December 4, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Toast to liquid bread
Beer and bread might be ancient bedfellows but their relationship is even more relevant today, writes Alastair Gilmour
When medieval Belgian monks prayed in their monasteries, they would give thanks to God for the “liquid bread” they were in the process of making. It was their way of circumventing any criticism from above about being involved with the Devil’s work of brewing beer and dabbling in alcohol rather than making batches of loaves.
In their early stages, beer and bread share similarities – using grain, water and yeast to produce the simplest of pleasures. They go their own way when the grain is milled into flour for bread and when hops are added (with a lot more water) to produce beer. Amen.
The collaboration between bakers and brewers is alive and kicking at Artisan Baking Community and Tyne Bank Brewery, both sitting not far from each other on the fringes of the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle. Artisan’s Andy Haddon, however, now positions himself in Shieldfield.
“Shieldfield is up and coming,” he says. “We’re planning a community bakery and community pub there, taking space in a parade of shops. There’s already a community launderette and lots of residents and students in the area.
“The bakery – a social enterprise – is all about the circular economy and sustainability and doing something not too complicated. And we’re also turning something of no value into something of value. We got some beer that was close to its ‘best before’ date from Tyne Bank and Firebrick breweries and made bread with it. Similarly, we’ve got a strain of yeast for sourdough which is worked up with beer. The bread is then toasted and used for making beer instead of conventional grains. Bread and beer are great to play around with.”
Moving in the opposite direction, Tyne Bank Brewery head brewer Alan Dunlop is up for the challenge of making beer from left-over bread.
Alan says: “I’ve been testing out a recipe for making a beer using Andy’s left-over sourdough. The toasted bread makes up roughly 30% of the fermentables in the mash with Cara and Munich malts also added to the mainly Maris Otter mash. The ale is brewed using Magnum hops for bittering and Cascade, Centennial and Bramling Cross hops for flavour and aroma – all brewed to 4.9% abv with 11 IBUs (International Bittering Units).”
Andy Haddon is passionate about local produce and that it should be available and affordable for everyone. That leads to jobs being created and a sense of community fostered. He is striving for the North East to be the leader in that for the rest of the country – all starting with bread. His three watchwords are Collaboration, Community and Creativity.
“They are always in my mind,” he says.
Artisan has also used grains that produce Newcastle Brewing Co’s Red Ale, Northern Alchemy’s Imperial Russian Stout, and Cherry Stout from Tyne Bank.
“We want to demonstrate that artisanal products are not just for the affluent, they should be affordable for everyone,” says Andy. “You have to make it real and relevant for people,.”
Two batches of yeast culture sit in the fridge at the bakery; one called Keith and the other Ronnie. One contains beer and the other doesn’t.
Rock and rollers will find that easy to understand when they think that the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood gave up drinking after a lifetime of excess while Keith Richards is still going at it.
“Both are bubbling away nicely,” says Andy Haddon, who has also experimented with beer crackers to be served with a pint, currently being trialled at Beer Street on Forth Street in Newcastle city centre.
“None of that happens in ivory towers like Science Central,” he says. “Walk out of there and there’s a queue waiting for soup at the People’s Kitchen. We’re starting at the bottom and building up.”
Dearly beloved, let us pray.