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After brewing a batch of beer, I always end up with ~14 lbs of spent grain that I usually just toss in a pile in the corner of the yard.

Are there better things to do with it (i.e. cooking, baking, etc.), or better ways to get rid of it? Even though I'm using it to make delicious beer, I feel like all that grain is somehow going to waste afterward and that it could be used for something else.

17 Answers 17

27

Personally I compost it most of the time.

I have used it to make bread, and pizza crust. Typically i just grab maybe 2 cups of it while it's still wet and fresh from the mash, then add the typical ingredients of a wheat bread recipe (milk, butter, etc). I then add enough flour to make the dough ball 'look like dough', then proceed as normal. I'm pretty look and feel with my bread, vs. strictly recipe focused.

For extra effort, you can dry it and mill it in a coffee grinder, and it'll be much more versatile in recipes.

It can be used for cookies!

You can make dog treats, just make sure there aren't hops in there; hops are toxic to some dogs.

  • The bread idea sounds very cool, but doesn't it make horrible bread, because of all the husks? – Jeff Roe Nov 11 '10 at 1:04
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    That's why I only use it for no more than, say, 1/3 of the dough. I haven't tried this yet, but I bet if you dried and milled the grain it'd be less husky and gum cutting. – Morgan Nov 11 '10 at 1:58
  • @Jeff: On my honeymoon, we went to a <a href="woodstockinnnh.com/">brew-pub</a>, and the bread they brought out before dinner was all spent-grain bread. It wasn't too husky, but I also don't know how much they used per batch (or how large the batches are/were). – Pulsehead Nov 11 '10 at 13:25
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    I make bread all the time. If you bake bread a lot and don't brew too often, the grain keeps well in the freezer. I just bag it still wet and freeze it, then thaw what I need for the recipe. – Tristan Nov 11 '10 at 15:48
  • @Pulsehead: In comments format your links like this: [Example Text](http://example.com). How did I do that? I enclosed the example in backticks: ` – Paused until further notice. Nov 16 '10 at 1:14
19

If you've got backyard chickens, they love the leftover mash, especially if it's still warm. I'm planning to take some of the mash from my last batch of beer, freeze it in 1-quart freezer bags, and then pull it out and microwave it to feed them on cold mornings.

  • My spent grains end up in the compost or my coworker's chicken coop. – FishesCycle Dec 3 '11 at 2:02
  • When I bring a bowl of spent grain out to the chickens, they come running and go crazy jumping up trying to get to the grain. It's one of their favorite things! – Tut Nov 20 '13 at 12:39
  • I've put an ad up on my local homebrew facebook page and had homebrewers with chickens come get batch after batch of spent grain. Way better ecological use than composting. – Keith Hoffman Aug 25 '14 at 6:31
  • If you have a restaurant that has chickens, drop it off there. As a restaurant, they have the fridge space to keep the grain from growing mold. You may also get an occasional gift card. At least that's how it worked for me till they closed that place. – Robert Jan 17 at 18:24
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My dogs absolutely love spent grain dog biscuits, I use this recipe (originally from here):

  • 4 cups spent grain
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter (or oil or pizza sauce)
  • 1 egg

Mix together thoroughly (get your hands in there!), place onto lined baking tray in whatever shapes you like and bake for 30 mins at 350F/180C then reduce heat to around 225F/110C and leave in oven until completely dried out.

NOTE: Hops can be harmful to some breeds of dog, don't use grain that has been first wort hopped for this recipe.

8

Spent grain is great for composting. You probably do not have enough to warrant making some kind of arrangement with a farm to use the spent grain as feed, but that is what many commercial breweries do.

  • 2
    I have never met a farmer who wasn't excited to get local grain, even 10-20 lbs at a time. That's where all of mine goes! – JoeFish Dec 2 '11 at 20:29
  • I was always told not to compost cooked material. Is this different? – uSlackr Mar 28 '16 at 20:47
  • @uSlackr Technically it's not "cooked". Given it is all vegetable matter it is fine to add to compost. Adding warm mash leftovers to compost helps to activate a slow compost, and I've always found it better to put the warm mash underneath existing composting material, or to mix it through. – S.Robins Jan 20 at 7:02
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You can make a flour from the grain, and follow any of the recipes listed here: Spent Grain Chef.

  • Came to check for this link. I've made at least half the recipes on there, and they're pretty much all delicious! – Peter R Nov 24 '13 at 0:43
4

Any nearby hobby farms with cows? I understand it makes a fine food for cows.

The deers and/or bears (not sure yet exactly which) that pass through my yard seem to enjoy it.

4

You could make granola. Some have praised this recipe or slight variations of it: http://www.healthywithheather.com/2011/07/cinnamon-coconut-crunch-spent-grain-granola/

4

I've got a buddy in San Diego that makes dog treats out of the spent grain:

Doggie Beer Bones

I thought that was pretty cool!

3

all you composters. Add your trub to compost. its a great way to get and keep your compost process going. bugs love food and moisture.

I actually eat some of it like cereal on brew days. Some of it goes in the frig too.

Some honey. Blueberries or other fruit. Warmed milk. Right out of mash, it is still warm.

I compost the rest and share with my neighbors. Each neighbor takes a bucket or so of it during the year to mix into their garden.

Bird feeder... great idea.

2

Our chickens love a bit of spent gain. Although we only have two chickens so we still end up composing most of it.

2

It has been suggested to me that I add my spent grain to the local brewery's or brew pub's spent grain. They apparently have an arrangement with local farmers who can use it. I have not yet contacted them to arrange adding my grain to the pile, but I plan to. Sure beats throwing it away.

2

I put mine out around the birdfeeder, they acted like they were at a banquet, it was gone in about two hours. (1 lb from an grain-extract kit)

  • I used to do this with steeping grains, but dumping 8-10 lbs from my mash tun seems like a bad idea. – uSlackr Mar 28 '16 at 20:49
1

When agricultural workers were supplied with beer during the working day by the farmer's wife, who was also the brewer ( Brewster ), water was added to the spent grains and hops and rebrewed to produce boys' beer for young workers. Sugar may be added to get the o.g. up a little.

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    Is there any current or historic reference to support this? – barking.pete Jul 16 '17 at 18:55
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Some of mine turns into dog treats using the flour/peanut butter recipe above and she loves it, however it only takes a few cups to make a huge box of treats and since we don't want our dog getting obese I've got plenty of leftovers.

For a long time I've given the remainder of my grain, in plastic buckets, to my grandparents to feed to their Clydesdale horse. He loved it and he "farts like a brewery horse". Unfortunately Joe the Clydesdale is no longer with us, so I've reverted to composting.

In short: dogs, horses and probably cows LOVE spent grain. If they have it uncooked, it needs to be used pretty quickly though because it goes off rather quickly (and attracts rats).

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Do how do I know if it had hops in it? Im a beginner here and getting my first 20 # tomorrow and wanted to make doggy treats and mostly feed all my birds. First time getting spent corn. I go threw a lot of bird seed and wanted some cheaper ways to feed them? And people gave me the idea of spent corn

  • First, ask the brewer. Second, look for green bits the grain. There should be brown & beige things. Third, you may be able to pick the smell of hops in the grain, although used gets very stinky very fast. – Pepi Aug 24 '15 at 17:25
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In Spain we dry it and it opens up a new world of possibilities: WELCOME TO UPCYCLING

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I freeze it in small batches and add it to the dough when I'm making whole wheat/multigrain bread.

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