Local Brewery Finds Shockingly Tasty New Use for Spent Grain

Spent grain accounts for an estimated 85 percent of a beer brewery’s total by-product. During the brewing process, the grain loses its sugar content and nourishes the yeast. Numerous breweries throughout the country have recycled spent grain as animal feed, organic fertilizer for growing mushrooms, and even fuel to power their day-to-day brewery operations. Because most breweries recycle their by-products, the brewing industry as a whole has earned a reputation of being environmentally friendly.

Somerville Brewing Company, also referred to as “Slumbrew,” has initiated an innovative program that salvages the unused by-products from the beer brewing process. Considering its bounty within the brewing process, spent grain is an abundant and inexpensive addition to Slumbrew’s pantry. Slumbrew is able to extract the large quantities of spent grain at little to no additional cost. By introducing food items made with spent grain to its product line and its menu, Slumbrew demonstrates its creativity, resourcefulness, and commitment to sustainability in its brewery. One of Slumbrew’s specialty food items includes its spent grain Belgian waffles.

An excellent source of fiber and protein, Brewer’s Spent Grain, or BSG can be a foundation for numerous foods. Because beer and bread are similarly composed, water, sugar, yeast, and grain, bread products are the easiest ways to use spent grain in the kitchen. Its unique nutty taste and gritty texture are ideal for baked goods.

Slumbrew co-owner Caitlin Jewell hosts 45-minute interactive and instructional cooking classes in which attendees use BSG as ingredients for two different dog treats, including sweet potato spent grain treats and peanut butter treats. The cooking classes feature a tasting of Somerville’s finest brews as well as a tour of Somerville Brewery.  

According to Jewell, the program is also an environmental initiative, as grains that would be previously thrown out are now being consumed or used for other purposes.

During the tour, the attendees not only learn about the beer brewing process but also pick up the recently brewed ingredients for their recipes. The cooking class offers an opportunity for Slumbrew to pair its reputable brews with food items made with the same ingredients. Jewell demonstrates her expertise in brewing and provides an in-depth explanation of how to successfully incorporate liquid beer in baking repertoire. At the end of the dog treat cooking class, the guests receive a goody bag filled with freshly spent grain, four recipes, and pre-made samples.

“The recipes are ones I’ve modified over the years for my beagle Bailey, and the artisan bread, which is a rosemary bread, is about to become a permanent part of our menu,” Jewell said.

For the spent grain bread-baking class, attendees can take home a freshly baked loaf of bread, extra spent grain, other bread recipes, bread and butter sampling, and a beer “token” to a Slumbrew pint. Jewell encourages her attendees to email her to arrange to pick up additional spent grain in the future.

Slumbrew currently incorporates BSG in its recipes for four different dog treats as well as bread. The brewery hopes to introduce a line of chocolate chip cookies in the future.

“The funny part is these dog treats are incredibly healthy for human consumption,” said Jewell.

Featured Image Courtesy of Slumbrew