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Spent grain: Tips for homebrewers and advice from innovators

Brewing your own beer at home can be a lot of fun and immensely satisfying. There’s nothing like sharing a brew you are proud of with friends and family. It means more to those you share your craft with and adds greater significance to your enjoyment. But what if you are concerned about the environment and you want to extend that thinking to your favourite hobby? Ruvani de Silva tackles this issue head on by focusing in on waste products from home brewing, talking to innovators in the field about how you can repurpose your own spent grains. 

Ruvani de Silva

A travel-loving beer writer,with a host of bylines, Ruvani blogs about beer in Central Texas and beyond, as Craft Beer Amethyst. A vocal advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in beer. As a British South Asian woman living in Texas, Ruvani brings a unique voice to the world of craft beer.

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Ruvani de Silva

A travel-loving beer writer. Ruvani blogs about beer in Central Texas and beyond, as Craft Beer Amethyst.

Wild Beer Co. Barrels

What is spent grain?

Spent grain is the name given to the grain that is drained out and leftover after the mash and the sparge. Having been heated to extract its sugars and other flavours, the grain is no longer required once the sparge is complete and the sugar and nutrient-rich wort is transferred to the boil. Spent grain is usually barley, wheat, or a mix of the two, but can include specialist grains, depending on what you are brewing.

If you have tried your hand at homebrewing, you will be familiar with this wet clumpy porridge-like byproduct of your brew day, but the name ‘spent grain’ is misleading. Just because the grain is no longer required in the beer-making process, it is far from redundant. In fact, there are many different ways in which spent grain can be repurposed at home, and plenty of very good reasons for doing so.

Wild Beer Co. Barrels

What is spent grain?

Spent grain is the name given to the grain that is drained out and leftover after the mash and the sparge. Having been heated to extract its sugars and other flavours, the grain is no longer required once the sparge is complete and the sugar and nutrient-rich wort is transferred to the boil. Spent grain is usually barley, wheat, or a mix of the two, but can include specialist grains, depending on what you are brewing.

If you have tried your hand at homebrewing, you will be familiar with this wet clumpy porridge-like byproduct of your brew day, but the name ‘spent grain’ is misleading. Just because the grain is no longer required in the beer-making process, it is far from redundant. In fact, there are many different ways in which spent grain can be repurposed at home, and plenty of very good reasons for doing so.

Spent grain is the name given to the grain that is drained out and leftover after the mash and the sparge.

— Ruvani de Silva

“You get soft, almost wine like aromatics, refeshing… acidity and apple driven, when you try Kent and Eastern style ciders”

— Alison Taffs

Why should we re-use spent grain?

As with all reuse and recycling, repurposing spent grain is good for the environment. Throwing away spent grain is wasteful, as there are many ways in which it can still be used. As per research cited in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing every gallon of beer produced nets about 1.7 pounds of wet spent grain, all of which can be practically repurposed. Reusing spent grain is an important way to reduce food waste and protect our natural resources in response to the ongoing climate emergency. Fortunately most breweries nowadays are aware of the potential for spent grain reuse and will recycle their spent grain rather than send it to landfill. Many breweries offer it to local farms for animal feed or compost, and some partner with local bakeries who will dry it and make spent grain flour, and there are plenty of ways homebrewers can be equally environmentally friendly.

WILD BEER CO, Barrels

Why should we re-use spent grain?

As with all reuse and recycling, repurposing spent grain is good for the environment. Throwing away spent grain is wasteful, as there are many ways in which it can still be used. As per research cited in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing every gallon of beer produced nets about 1.7 pounds of wet spent grain, all of which can be practically repurposed. Reusing spent grain is an important way to reduce food waste and protect our natural resources in response to the ongoing climate emergency. Fortunately most breweries nowadays are aware of the potential for spent grain reuse and will recycle their spent grain rather than send it to landfill. Many breweries offer it to local farms for animal feed or compost, and some partner with local bakeries who will dry it and make spent grain flour, and there are plenty of ways homebrewers can be equally environmentally friendly.

WILD BEER CO, Barrels

There are also significant benefits to cooking with spent grain. It is low in sugar and rich in fiber, protein, biotin, folic acid, riboflavin and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Adding spent grain to baked goods has been proven to increase their nutritional content, and it is easy and extremely versatile to cook with. Cooking with spent grain requires little to no specialist equipment, and as well as minimizing brewing waste you can add exciting new flavour dimensions to your favourite baked goods. By reusing spent grain, you are also saving money. Instead of purchasing extra flour, oats or cereal, you can swap them out for your spent grain which is in effect a free replacement, which makes for an all-round win.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam lobortis vel sapien nec faucibus. Morbi consectetur pulvinar lectus, vitae sodales tellus. Sed sagittis aliquam convallis. Duis mollis libero eu massa luctus, id euismod urna fringilla. Aenean condimentum accumsan leo nec eleifend. Maecenas ullamcorper est non justo pulvinar accumsan. Nam facilisis, lacus a aliquet ornare, metus velit mattis leo, eget sodales quam ligula et nisl. 

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