Friday, January 20, 2017


What is Spent Grain?

Beer is liquid bread! After all, beer shares three of the four bread ingredients - grain, water, yeast. The big difference is the grain is not milled into flour but malted (sprouted) to provide the complex carbohydrates and sugars needed for brewing. The grain is first steeped in water to raise the moisture level to allow the breakdown of the starches and proteins. After steeping, the grain is allowed to germinate allowing for further breakdown of the protein and carbohydrate. Germination is halted by drying so that the growing is stopped, creating the starch reserves needed for brewing.

The grain is boiled with water to extract the sugars and flavors into a liquid known as wort, which is then fermented into beer. The wort is filtered off the grains and what is left is a wet pile of grain. The spent grain becomes a by-product of the brewing process, often discarded or used for animal feed. 

The wet spent grains.
I was fortunate to get two 1 gallon bags of spent grain from a friend who is beginning to establish a micro brewery in a nearby town.  The actual grain mixture was 90.3% Pale malt, 2.4% Caramel malt, 3.6% White wheat malt and 3.6% Caraphils. All the malts, with the exception of the White wheat are made from barley, the difference being in how they are treated after germination in the drying process.

 First Bake

An internet search provided several recipes, most associated with home brewing sites. I selected one that used wet grain from this site.

3 cup Spent grain - wet
1 1/4 cup Warm water
1/4 cup Sugar
4-5 cup AP flour
1 tsp Salt
1 Egg
1/4cup Milk
1 tbsp Instant Dry Yeast

Obviously the amount of water in the grain is an unknown variable, and I finished up adding a further 1 1/2 cups of AP flour. 

The loaves
Final proof was in bannetons and baked at 475oF in a dutch oven for 30 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered. The loaves were dense, chewy with a great toasted malt flavor.

Water content of the spent grains is obviously something to consider and likely to vary from batch to batch.

Crumb shot

Next up will be a Sourdough with spent grains from here.

Drying the Spent Grain

We put seeds in breads, so why not spent grains? Half the grains were spread on a rimmed baking sheet and dried in the oven. Perhaps a measure of the amount of water is that is took 3 days at 170oF to dry the grains out! 

Result was a great chewy crunch with a slightly sweet, malt flavor. Next time I make a whole wheat loaf, I am going to see what a cup full of dried spent grains will do to the flavor.

Dried spent grain

No comments: