Spent Grain

The newest (ok, not so new) entrant into the hip and cool ingredient pool of the day.

I was first introduced to this wonder when River North Brewery at their first location, agreed to give their spent grain to a gal that created these wonderful little gems – Spent Grain Pretzels. She sold them for $5 a pieces and they were worth every cent for the warm deliciously buttery flavorful bready goodness! (Sadly she moved back to michigan… but i have made some other mighty delicious items due to her starting me down this path!)

First off, definition, what is spent grain:

Spent Grain

“During the process of making beer, Spent grain is the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients, can constitute as much as 85 percent of a brewery’s total by-product. ”

ok, so right…  still no idea what it is? Unless you brew beer, it’s pretty unclear…

Basically there are “grains and stuff” used to make beer. The first step involves some boiling etc to create the flavor of the beer…  The spent grain is what is left over after all the goodness has been extracted from the grains to make the beer. It still looks pretty much like what went into the process, just fuller and more grainy looking.

The trick to these wonders is that they are now in the process of fermenting… y’know… what makes alcohol.

If you are going to use these in a recipe, make sure to use them quickly or freeze them quickly. You don’t really want them to continue to ferment.

I’ve spent a bit of time researching, and coming up with different recipes to use the wondrous “free” ingredient.


These fellas are pretty grainy. If you have ever had “whole wheat” and i don’t mean in bread, i mean that thing on the stalk…  you know it’s pretty fibrous, and chewy… You need to take this into account in how you are going to use this stuff.

There are 3 ways to use the spent grains.

  1.  is wet. This is my preferred method.
  2. is dried. This is a pain in the bootie and take a while in an oven at 200 degrees…
    • It needs to be a very thin layer, and about 4 hours in the oven.
  3. is flour. This is fun, but required step 2, and then put it all into a blender to create the powder…

Other options for spent grain

After many days trying to dry the grain and creating breads or biscuits with this fibrous stuff, i decided wet was by far the better way to go. Pulling a stalk from between your teeth while eating bread or a cookie is just so un-appealing…

Obviously cooking etc is something one should experience for themselves, so give it a go and see what you think!

I’ll be sharing my favorite spent grain recipes soon! (one is even beer bread with spent grain – hello – no rising necessary!)

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