Pour the water into a large mixing bowl – the water should be tepid or hand warm – NOT too hot, as it will kill the yeast. Add the yeast to the water and then the salt, mix well. Then add the beer and mix well again.
Add the flour and grated cheese, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a dough hook until all the ingredients are amalgamated – NO need to over knead.
Leave the bread dough in the mixing bowl and cover loosely – I use a shower cap to cover my dough. (That is NOT used as a shower cap any more, I hasten to add!) Allow to prove for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 225C/450F/Gas mark 8 and place a baking sheet or pizza tray in the oven. Grease and line a 20cms/8" cast iron crock/casserole dish with butter and grease-proof paper.
Knead the dough for about 1 minute with floured hands on a floured board, Shape it into a large round cob/ball, and place it in the greased and lined cast iron crock. Allow to prove and rise for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Slash the surface with a sharp serrated knife in the shape of a cross, then sprinkle the pinhead oatmeal over the top of the dough.
Place the crock on the pre-heated baking/pizza tray and bake for 30 minutes or until well risen, brown and the loaf sounds hollow when it is tapped on the underside. (If you wish, you can add a bowl of boiling water as soon as you put the bread into the oven – this steams and bakes the loaf to give a good chewy texture and keeps the inside moist.)
Remove the bread when baked and cool slightly in the crock, before turning out on to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm with butter, cheese, pickles, chutney, ham and cold cuts, or slice when cool for sandwiches. Also wonderful when toasted the next day.