Someone, somewhere, once decided to combine two of the best fermented foods to ever exist: beer and bread. This stroke of genius has changed bread baking for the better. But with endless beer options, you may be left wondering which one performs best. Have no fear, we’ve tested six local Oktoberfest beers so that you don’t have to! To get consistent results we used the recipe below as the control, with each Oktoberfest lager as the variable:
250 g white bread flour
187.5 g beer
¼ teaspoon yeast
Each dough was covered and left to do it’s thing overnight, then baked at 480F for 20-22 minutes (some crusts browned much quicker than others which resulted in varying baking time). As always, we used our preheated Fourneau Bread Oven to get the perfect crust and a delicious crumb.
For this post we used beer found both at Jewel and Binny’s. Our contenders are Baderbrau, Bell’s, Buckle Down, Metropolitan Brewing, Revolution Brewing, and Two Brothers Artisan Brewing (all seasonal Oktoberfest lagers). Surprisingly, each beer added a very different flavor to it’s respective bread. Although we baked each one for 20-22 minutes, this was probably just a few minutes too short. We found that the inside of the bread was still a little under baked and ever so slightly “gummy”. This was remedied by toasting the bread, but if you intend on recreating any of these beer breads we would recommend a longer bake time, 25 minutes should do the trick. Each bread had its own distinct crust, some were more flavorful than others and some burned more quickly. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the results and have a few opinions on what beers worked best and why, so without further ado, here are the outcomes.
Two Brothers Atom Smasher(7.7% ABV)
“A hefty and complex grain bill brings about a variety of flavors including coffee, toffee and toast vanilla. Fermented with our house lager yeast and aged in oak chips, Atom Smasher boasts a unique spice which is balanced with soft vanilla.” (Source)
The Two Brothers bread definitely retained the most beer flavor after baking (our theory is that this is due to having the highest alcohol content of all six beers). The flavor was retained in both the crust and the crumb, which wasn’t the case with every beer. However, we found that the flavor of the crust was different from the crumb. While the crust held onto that “hoppy” taste, the crumb was more earthy, citrusy and the tiniest bit bitter. We were surprised at the punch this bread packed. If you are a huge beer fan, and want to retain as much of the flavor in the dough as you can, this is our pick for you.
Two Brothers Atom Smasher Oak Aged Oktoberfest Style Lager
Metropolitan Brewing After Burner Oktoberfest (6.1% ABV):
“Cereal malt sweetness. Mellow hop spice. Rich, silky texture. Dry, toasty finish.” (Source)
Of all the breads tested, this beer bread’s crust began to brown the quickest. As mentioned previously, each bread could have benefitted from a few more minutes in the oven, however this crust would have definitely burned completely had we left it in any longer. The crumb was malty and sweet, but the crust was sour and bitter.
Metropolitan Brewing After-Burner Oktoberfest Lager Beer
Bell’s Octoberfest Beer Marzen(5.5% ABV):
“With herbal hop aromas, this balanced amber lager focuses on lightly toasted malt that lends body without too much sweetness.” (Source)
This was one of our team favorites. The eyes were the most prominent with this loaf. This also happened to be one of the most well balanced in terms of crust and crumb flavor. The crumb was citrusy (almost reminiscent of oranges) and flavorful while the crust was slightly more sour, but still complimented the crumb perfectly. This bread would be a hit at any holiday party and would agree with beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers.
Bell's Octoberfest Beer Marzen
Buckle Down Oktoberfest German-Style(5.2% ABV.):
“Dry, spicy and delicious!” (Source)
Another team favorite. If you like a sweeter beer flavor profile, this one’s for you! This bread had a great balance of sweetness and bitterness. It held onto flavor in the crust, but also had a flavorful crumb with vanilla, coffee, and earthy tones. This bread would be great as toast with a cup of coffee in the morning. Make and share this loaf with a friend that has a sweet tooth, they won’t be disappointed.
Buckle Down Oktoberfest German-Style Lager
Revolution Brewing Oktoberfest German-Style Lager(5.7% ABV):
“Smooth with a pleasant, toasty, malt flavor. The addition of traditional German Magnum and Hersbruker hops provide a crisp balanced bitterness and spicy/earthy aroma to round out this robust beer.” (Source)
This bread was the most holiday inspired of all six. The crust was slightly bitter, but the crumb was packed with vanilla and holiday spice (clove and cinnamon) flavor. The loaf itself was also one of the most aromatic, we were able to pick up on a lot of the vanilla flavor before even biting into the bread just by smelling it. This loaf would make a great Thanksgiving treat.
Revolution Brewing Oktoberfest German-Style Lager
Baderbrau Oktoberfest Single-Decocted Marzen(5.1% ABV):
“A classic German märzen, single decocted and low in alcohol”. (Source)
Although it smelled heavily of alcohol, this bread was very mild. It had a slightly sour crumb and a more bitter crust, but we really didn’t pick up on any beer flavors during our taste test. Our suspicion is that the low alcohol content and the mild flavors were not strong enough to hold up while baking.
Baderbrau Oktoberfest Single-Decocted Marzen
To be completely honest, we weren’t sure if there would be any flavor differences at all, but the results were surprising! Each bread had it’s own unique and distinct flavor, and while we had a few favorites, it really comes down to personal preference. Some of the flavors in the beer completely transformed when turned into a dough, and some stayed the same. Ultimately, the flavors you enjoy in a beer may or may not be what you enjoy in a beer bread. The best way to figure out which beer bread suits your taste buds best is to buy a mix-6 or silly six pack and put them to the test.
Having completed this experiment we can give a few pointers that will steer you in the right direction.
Do you have a favorite beer bread recipe? Any insights into the world of beer? Do you want to see more beer bread posts? Tell us about your experiences and leave us questions in the comments and make sure to tag us on Instagram @fourneauoven if you try making beer bread at home.
The Fourneau Team
Disclaimer: we are in no way affiliated with any of the beer brands mentioned below. While most of the alcohol is burned off in the process of baking beer bread, these recipes may not suitable for anyone under the age of 21. Each brewery has different terms and conditions, by accessing their websites through the links below you are agreeing to their terms and confirming that you are of legal drinking age.
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