Don’t Toss Your Homebrewing Waste—Cook With It Instead

Pizza with the dough made from spent grains.

Editor’s note: Does an all you can eat and drink local beer festival seem up your alley? If so, join us next month at Good Beer. Some of our favorite New York breweries and food vendors are teaming up for one delicious evening on Thursday, July 20. More info and tickets here.  

If you’ve ever made your own beer, you know you have a lot of spent grain. Throwing it out can feel wasteful but other than composting, what can you do? I hear ya, and so was surprised when I recently learned that Brooklyn Brew Shop has a whole website of ideas.

Spent grains are the malt and adjuncts leftover in the brewing process after the flavors and sugars are extracted.

Spent grains are the malt and adjuncts leftover in the brewing process after the flavors and sugars are extracted. It’s estimated that 85 percent of a brewery’s byproducts is spent grains. As craft breweries have grown in popularity so too has the waste, but with more people focused on the environmental effects of food waste, solutions to spent grains have popped up. The most common ones are to compost them or donate them to nearby farms for livestock, but if cooked right it is possible to make delicious food with them. There’s even a San Francisco-based company that makes granola bars out of spent grains. To learn about cooking with spent grains I spoke with Erica Shea of Brooklyn Brew Shop who shared her tips, her favorite recipes and more.

EB: Why did Brooklyn Brew Shop first decide to create recipes with spent grain?
ES: So much food ends up in landfills that we try to do our part to reduce our impact, and spent grain happens to be delicious in recipes. When we first started cooking with spent grain, we couldn’t find a single recipe except for the occasional dog biscuit. We started writing our own and now we have over 50 recipes for everything from cookies and biscuits to pasta, granola and even fried chicken!

EB: What are some things people should know about cooking with spent grain?
ES: Follow a recipe! Spent grain definitely doesn’t behave the same way as an all-purpose flour in baking. So we wouldn’t recommend just swapping it in 100% for any recipe, try 10-15% the first time and then go up from there.

These brownies are one of Erica Shea’s favorite spent grain recipes.

EB: What are a few of your favorite spent grain recipes?

Spent Grain Pizza Dough Recipe: definitely the one I make most frequently. You don’t need to dehydrate or process the spent grain so it’s perfect for your post brew day meal. Get the recipe.

Spent Grain Granola Recipe: If we aren’t using the spent grain that day we like to dry it out. We make our Spent Grain Granola recipe often enough that we always have granola on hand. Get the recipe.

Spent Grain Flour Recipe: We also always have a jar of Spent Grain Flour that we use in a ton of recipes, including Spent Grain Brownies and Spent Grain Burger Buns, which are some of our favorites.

Images courtesy of Brooklyn Brew Shop.