Archive for July, 2011

Uses of Spent Grain

A commercial brewery in Germany… hundreds of pounds of grains left over after brewing. Homebrew batches can lead to a lot of left over grain, as well.

When we brew, we have a lot of grain left over… even my small all grain batches use about 5 lbs of grain. Steeping grains for extract batches can weigh about a pound or so, so that’s a lot to go straight into the garbage.

So, I’ve tried to figure out ways to reuse the spent grain… if I can use what would be going straight to the trash to make something else, than that’s a win… right?

Here’s three things I’ve thought of:

1. Spent Grain Bread

The credit for this recipe goes to a post on Beer Advocate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (12oz) beer (any style or brand)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 3/4 cup dry milk
  • 1 1/2 cups spent grain
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups flour

Direction & Notes:

  • Make a sponge by combining the beer, sugar, yeast, dry milk and spent grain. Cover this and let it sit for a couple of hours.
  • Add the eggs and salt, and enough flour to make a workable dough. Knead it (working in only as much flour as you need), then let it rise again.
  • Shape it into loaves, and bake by placing it in a cold oven. Set the oven temp to 400 for 15 minutes, then down to 350 for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

The bread is pretty good… and fairly nutritious, as well… though, I probably spoil the nutritional value by smearing the bread with butter and jelly after I toast it. It makes good sandwich bread, as well. I HIGHLY recommend this recipe.

2. Spent Grain Dog Treats

Ever wanted a way to get your pooch involved in your brewing? Well… apart from letting your dog drink your brew… you can use some of the left over grain to make man’s best friend some delicious treats. I’ve made them a few times, and my in-law’s boxer, Champ, loves them. He actually drools spit bubbles from his jowls when I bust out the little baggie full of dog treat goodness.

I would suggest using a food dehydrator… otherwise, they take FOREVER in the oven to completely dry out. Last time I baked a batch, they took 6 hours in the oven… and they still weren’t completely dry. Speaking of completely drying them out… if you try to break one and it has any resemblance to a Fig Newton, they need to cook longer. They need to be completely dry, or they’ll mold after a few days. Thinner layers will cook and dry quicker… the thinner the better. And, it might not hurt to line the pan with a layer of parchment paper… to guarantee no dog treat stickage to your wife’s prized cookie sheet.

Credit for the recipe goes to a post from HomBrewTalk.com

  • 4 cups spent grain
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter (all natural)
  • 2 eggs

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Press down into a dense layer on a large cookie sheet. Score almost all the way through into the shapes you want. Bake for about half an hour at 350 F to solidify them. Loosen them from the sheet, break the biscuits apart and return them, loosely spread out on the cookie sheet, to the oven at 225 F for 3 to 4 hours (or until they are really dry) to prevent mold growth. Store in an airtight container to keep them dry and mold-free.

3. Spent Grain Granola

I haven’t tried this yet… but the idea seems appealing. A friend of mine on MrBeerFans.com posted this recipe, so I figured I’d share it.

Credit to a post on MrBeerFans.com

I used about 2 cups each of spent grains, oatmeal and sunflower kernels, 1 cup each of almonds and coconut, some honey, cinnamon and melted butter, spread on a cookie sheet and baked at 375 for about 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Once they came out of the oven, I added some raisins and craisins.

4. Compost

… the ultimate “green” solution to your spent grain dilemma. And, I’m sure you’re garden will love the compost.

Here’s the tumbler I’m thinking about building… once I actually have my own house that has a back yard and a larger garden plot. You’ll need to source a rain barrel… but I’m betting they’re pretty easy to find.

Also, if you just do the regular compost pile kind of thing, be cautious… animals LOVE spent grain. Another homebrew friend said he just throws the grain over the fence for the deer… and he said squirrels, raccoons, possums, skunks, and every other forest critter will come out of the wood work to get at the grain pile. This tumbler seems to keep everything a little bit more “contained”… and less likely to attract unwanted friends from the woods. But, I guess that’s a fifth use of spent grains, if you don’t mind some company… just leave them out for the animals to enjoy. Maybe put them in a little box, or something, for the squirrels to eat. Let them in a loose pile for cheap bird seed. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

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Rehydrating Dry Yeast

Well, since this is, in part, a “homebrew” blog, I figured it was about time I put up a post about homebrewing 🙂

One of the most important aspects of tasty and successful homebrewing is fermentation. If you get fermentation under control, and hae good, consistent, clean-tasting results, you’re on your way to perfecting your homebrew. And, no, you don’t need to spend $8 per batch for one smack pack or vial of liquid yeast. Dry yeast is fine for most beers. Sure, if I was brewing a hefeweizen, I would go out and get a proper liquid strain, but if I’m brewing an English extra special bitter (ESB), or an American pale ale (APA), a Belgian wit, a red ale, or a stout (note: you can apply a dry yeast to most any style of beer… this is just a list of examples), I’m only spending $3 or $4 on a packet of dry yeast instead of going out to get a “specialized” strain of liquid yeast for twice the price.

And, to get the most out of the dry yeast, you’ll need to rehydrate the cells. Yeast are single-celled organisms, and dry yeast is nothing more than dehydrated yeast cells… they need to brought back to life, like sea monkeys. Proper rehydration allows water to pass across the membrane of the yeast cell walls, which allows the yeast to come out of suspended animation, and get put back to life to get to work fermenting your wort into beer. If you just “sprinkle” the dry yeast onto the wort, the yeast will not be able to draw water across their cell walls properly and will not rehydrate and die. In fact, it’s said you lose 60% of the cells when you just sprinkle the dry yeast on top of the wort. So, if pitch an 11.5 gram packet of dry yeast onto the wort, only 4.6 grams of yeast will survive and actually ferment the wort… the other 6.9 grams are D-E-D, dead… and you’ve just underpitched your beer. And no one wants the results of an underpitched beer… poor attenuation, off flavors, stressed out yeast… just not good beer.

So here’s how I do it:

Get the things you’ll need… I have a 1 liter “Pyrex” erlynmeyer flask, my brewing thermometer (brewmometer), a square of aluminum foil big enough to cover the mouth of the flask, scissors, and the 11.5 gram packet of dry yeast… that’s pretty much all you need to do it.

Note: you can use a Pyrex measuing cup in place of the flask… just have a square of foil large enough to completely cover the cup. and, any labware labeled “Pyrex” (borosilicate) can be put directly on the heat, and straight into a water bath without shattering. Pyrex measuring cups should be microwaved until the water comes to a boil… probably 2 or 3 minutes on high.

I start the process once my wort has cooled to 100° F… it usually takes another half hour, or so, for the wort to cool to pitching temps, which is just about how long the rehydration process takes. You want to time it right so you don’t let the rehydrated yeast sit around… finish the process of rehydrating the dry yeast and pitch the slurry as soon as it’s done.

There is one cup of warm tap water in the flask.

Put the flask on the heat, and bring the water to a rolling  boil. You can optionally use the microwave to bring the water to a boil… 4 or 5 minutes on high should be good… just be leery of flash boil overs when you take it out.

Let it boil for a minute or two… just to sterilize the water (this is also how you make sterile water… so if you see anything that calls for “sterile water”, it mean water that has been boiled and cooled).

CAREFULLY take it off the heat and put on the aluminum foil square to cover the mouth of the flask. I have an Ove Glove that I use to move the flask around and put on the foil… oven mitt, towel, etc… be careful, of course… HOT HURTS!

Insert the brewmometer through the foil, and deep enough so it hits the water. (so the brewmometer will have a chance to contact the hot water and become sterilized, as well).

Put the flask in a water bath and cool down to 100° F… notice that there is a trivet in the sink… that’ll allow water to circulate under the flask and help cool it a little more efficiently. No trivet, no problem… it jsut might take another couple minutes longer to reach 100° F.

Once it’s cooled to 100° F, you’re ready to sprinkle in the yeast. This recipe I used US-05 in an 11.5 gram packet, but this process will work for Mr Beer yeast packets, or any other large packet of yeast, as well. Make sure you spray the outside of the yeast packet and the scissors with sanitizer… I keep a bottle of Star San around just for stuff like this.

You’ll see the yeast granules floating on top, once you sprinkle in the dry yeast. That’s what it’s supposed to look like… DON’T STIR! Just let it sit. 15 minutes. Start a timer… spend the 15 mins cleaning up from your brew day.

Once the 15 mins is up, I swirl the flask to mix the yeast into a cream/slurry and resuspend everything. If you’re using a measuring cup, you’ll need to use a sanitized spoon to stir everything… stir gently.

Once you’ve swirled/stirred and the yeast is suspended, it’ll look kinda creamy and homogeneous… kind of like this…

And you’re ready to pitch the yeast slurry to inoculate the wort. Just pour the whole slurry into the fermenter. Any dilution effect from pouring the yeast +water into the wort will be compensated for by the alcohol produced during bottle carbonation… or i like to think it is.

And, yes, I know this is different than the way yeast manufacturers recommend for their dry yeasts to be rehydrated. But, guess what? I’ve used this method for every company’s dry yeast and it’s worked like a charm… Fermentis, Danstar, Mr. Beer’s “Under-The-Lid Mystery Yeast”… it’s worked fine. Lag time until fermentation begins is cut, and you’re pitching healthy, happy, alive yeast into the beer.

The process seem long, and complicated, but the whole thing… even cooling the sterile in an ice bath… takes about a half an hour. It’s simple, trust me… if I can do it, you can do it. And your beer (and those that drink your beer) will thank you.

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