Canadian Pizza Magazine

The pizza Chef: April-May 2013

By Diana Coutu   

Features In the Kitchen Ingredients

Using beer in your pizza dough

Canadians love beer. Canadians love pizza. This month I’m going to talk about how I added beer to my recipe for pizza dough.

Canadians love beer. Canadians love pizza. This month I’m going to talk about how I added beer to my recipe for pizza dough.

These two pair up in more ways than one.


Back in 2005, when Canadian Pizza held its first contest for “Canada’s Best Pizza Chef of the Year” it was inspired by another Food Network competition show. There were 40 common ingredients and you were allowed to choose five secret ingredients to complete three recipes from scratch.


I wondered what made Canadian pizza truly Canadian. When you think of pizzas from different regions of the world – New York style, Chicago Deep Dish, Californian style and Italian style – each of those styles of pizza has distinctive characteristics and tastes that make them region-specific. Back to my original question, what makes Canadian pizza Canadian? One night while I was looking in the fridge, the answer hit me. Canadians have been enjoying beer and pizza for decades, what would happen if I put the beer right in the pizza dough?

It took me three or four test batches to answer that question. I did very small test batches of only four dough balls so I wouldn’t need a whole keg of beer. When I started testing I substituted some of the water amount with my husband’s favourite beer. I did a few batches and increased the amount of beer only while decreasing the water by the same volume. In order to get any of the beer flavour into your pizza crust you will need at least 50 per cent of the liquid to be beer.

Using beer in your pizza dough can add a unique flavour and appeal to an otherwise ordinary pizza. The main thing to remember is that you should choose a beer with a distinctive flavour. Stay away from light beers because they won’t have enough kick to enhance the flavour of the dough.

Next I varied the fermentation, or proofing, times. I always allow any pizza dough to proof in a walk-in cooler for at least 24 hours. Good dough needs time to develop the flavours. With my beer dough I found that it needed a 36-hour rise. 

I get asked a lot whether the amount of yeast needs to be reduced since there is yeast present in beer, and the answer is no. The amount of active yeast in beer is typically not sufficient to warrant reducing yeast in the recipe. This is a general rule of thumb; it is possible to make a starter, which is often substituted for fresh yeast, from just beer, flour, salt and rising time.

Once the dough had developed the flavours, I baked it with a little bit of sauce and cheese. The flavour of the beer is baked right into the pizza dough, and all of the alcohol bakes off – making it safe for all ages to eat. With my beer dough, the crust bakes to a crisp golden brown on the outside while still being soft and bread-like on the inside.

Since then I’ve shared my award-winning beer pizza dough recipe with friends from around the world. My friends from Ireland used Guinness beer in their pizza dough one time, and Jameson whiskey another. A friend from Ohio uses it with a craft beer that is popular at his high-end pizzeria. A friend from California is testing it with a Pinot Grigio. When you have a good pizza dough recipe, it can easily be modified to accommodate regional preferences and become a signature feature of your menu.

Diana Coutu is a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine chef of the year champion, internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, co-owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, Man., and a board of director for the CRFA. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their business effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis. For more information, contact her at

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