5 Ways to Use Spent Grain

All-grain brewers end up with a healthy amount of spent grain after each brew day.

Dave Carpenter May 2, 2014 - 3 min read

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And the stronger the brew, the more grain there is to deal with. Although my own spent grain often helps support the continued development and well-being of the neighborhood’s squirrel population, there are better uses. Here are a few.

  1. Bake bread. Known in German as Treberbrot, spent grain bread offers an excellent way to squeeze every last bit of nutrition and flavor out of your malt. Almost any bread recipe can be modified to include spent grain, but best results are usually obtained by roughly matching the bread style to the malt bill. A 100 percent Pilsner grist works well in a light sandwich loaf, while the grain from an imperial stout can accent a dark pumpernickel. Check out this bread recipe from Snappy Service Cafe.
  2. Feed the chickens. Apparently hens love this stuff. If you don’t have chickens, give your grain to a friend who does. Either way, you’re bound to receive more than a few eggs in return. And it’s not just chickens: Many kinds of livestock enjoy feasting on spent grain, as the professional brewers’ farmer friends can attest.
  3. Compost it. Spent grain contains a significant amount of nitrogen, so it works best when mixed with carbon-rich “brown” material such as dry leaves, coffee grounds, and wood chips. You’ll figure out the right mix with time, but here’s a simple rule of thumb: If the compost smells horrendous, you didn’t add enough brown material.
  4. Spread the love. Some brewers simply spread spent grain across the lawn a day or two before mowing. Of course, if you have a small lawn and prefer to brew barleywines, this may not be the best solution for you.
  5. Make dog treats. There are plenty of recipes floating around on the Internet, so just run a search and find your favorite. Do NOT, however, include hops, as hops are toxic to canines.

Whatever you choose to do with your spent grain, it’s vital that you either work with it immediately or refrigerate or freeze it for later use. Spent grain goes bad very quickly. If you’ve ever forgotten to clean out your mash tun and opened it a day or two later, you know what I mean.

Homebrewers are a creative and frugal lot. Tell us what you do with your spent grain.