Nutty and delicious spent grain pancakes, breads, pretzels, pasta, and more! The sky’s the limit to what you can do with your leftover brewing grains.
None of this had occurred to me … until recently.
Like most brewers my spent grains always went into the compost pile, animal feed, or just mixed into my garden soil. I’ve always wanted to do more with them, but it always seemed inconvenient, as you had to use them right away or store them in the freezer.
While having a pint at Robin Hood Brewing Co. one evening, I had a chance to chat with head brewer, Chris Schell.
He likes to dehydrate the spent grains and then mill them into flour.
That thought never even crossed my mind, and then I started to realize all the endless possibilities of things you could incorporate the malt flour into.
I had to learn more, so I contacted Chris about it and he invited the wife and me over to his home for a night of processing spent grains, dinner, and, of course, some craft beer.
After making some malt flour and breaking bread together we were able to sit down and go over some of the finer points of making and using malt flour.
Modern Journeymen: How long can you store spent grain?
Chris Schell: Spent grains tend to start souring within 24 hours and go bad shortly after. Therefore, wet spent grains need to be used or processed relatively quickly or frozen in bags for later use.
MJ: What are some uses for wet spent grain?
CS: You can use them in a variety of baking applications, granola, or I’ll also use them as a component in sourdough starter because of the bacteria they contain.
MJ: How do you dry spent grain if you don’t have a dehydrator?
CS: You can put them on a sheet tray up to a thickness of about ¼” and then place them in your oven at the lowest temperature for 8-12 hours.
But for faster results, you can set your oven at 250° and they will be done in two or so hours. I find that the hotter/faster method produces richer color and flavor. Whichever way you choose, make sure to stir the grains every half-hour or so.
MJ: Once the grains are dry how do you recommend milling them?
CS: You can run them through your grain mill at the smallest setting, however, you may have to run them through a couple times. A flour mill would be best, like the Kitchenaid attachment that we used tonight.
If you don’t have a flour or grain mill, you can use a coffee grinder or food processor, just make sure to rest the motor frequently.
MJ: How long can you store spent grain flour?
CS: It has the shelf life of most dry goods, so I would say 6mo-1yr would be a good range.
MJ: Can you recommend how much spent grain flour to use in recipes?
CS: I’ve gone as high as 15% in my breads, anymore than that I feel that it overwhelms the flavor and can make it too dense.
MJ: What are some other uses for spent grain flour other than baking?
CS: I’ve used it to replace corn meal to dust pans. I really like it as a component in my dry rubs. It adds texture and increases crispiness when frying things like chicken wings, eggplant, and veggies. You could also use it as a quick firestarter if you’re in a pinch.
MJ: Are there any styles of beer that you would or would not turn the spent grain into flour?
CS: It would be a case by case basis, just taste your grain mix and see if it’s desirable. Darker beers will give you more of a nutty flavor and some chocolate notes, but the amount of dark grain is so small that it may not affect the flavor too much.
Now that I know how to turn my spent grains into flour quickly, the uses are almost endless. I’ve even found a bunch of recipes on the Brooklyn Brewshop page that I cannot wait to try.
Spent grain cookies, muffins, brownies, waffles, popovers, and pizza dough are coming to our little kitchen very soon.
About Chris Schell and Robin Hood Brewing Co.
Chris got the brewing bug while visiting his brother in college. He had a Mr. Beer kit and realized that you could make your own beer and it wouldn’t kill you.
Fast forward a couple years, when after getting a two bucket brewing system for Christmas, he started brewing at school and dreamed of owning a sustainable brewpub.
He later got a summer gig at Cooperstown Brewing cleaning kegs and helping out in the packaging line.
Shortly after he got a job as a cellarman at Butternuts Beer & Ale. Along with hands-on experience, they supplied lots of learning material during his 3 year tenure and he learned how to become a head brewer.
It was while he was at Butternuts that he was approached in 2013 to be the head brewer at the new Robin Hood Brewing Co. in Bellefonte, PA.
Robin Hood Brewing Co. is very community centered, giving back and working with local groups whenever possible. They have been a learning resource for local homebrewers through Chris’ participation and helpful advice at the State College Homebrew Club.
If you’re ever in the area, stop by and try some of the 15+ beers they have on tap. Maybe you’ll see Chris brewing up the next batch of Jul-IPA or Crooked Arrow, say hi and perhaps grab some spent grains from him to take home and turn into your own spent grain baked treats.