Cooking With Spent Grain

BREWHOUSE UPDATES!  Our pumpkin beer (It’s The Great Pumpkin, Timmy D!) is done, and it’s really good.  Last year’s ITGPTD was a horrible failure, we went back to the drawing board and this year have something we really like.  We also brewed another batch of Synesthesia Saison that will get racked onto peaches soon to create Synesthesia Pêche, we hope to have that one ready to drink in about a month.

I’ve been saying for a long time that I was going to make some stuff with spent grain.  Each time I brew I save some and freeze it, then a few months later I throw it away, it’s a vicious circle.  This time I actually followed through and tried a couple of recipes with some grain left over from brewing Synesthesia Pêche (more on that soon) and was pretty pleased with the results.  Brew Dog Boo got some dog treats out of the deal and I got some banana nut bread, everyone was happy.

I decided to use some of the grain as is and to turn some of it into spent grain flour.  Turning the grain into flour was a time-intensive process and you’d be surprised how little you get after drying and milling the grain.  I have a four tray food dehydrator and loaded it up with grain, after all was said and done I ended up with about 1 1/2 cups of flour, which was fine as it still covered what I needed for the banana bread.  So here’s how I threw it down…

Spent Grain Dog Treats

Spent Grain Dog Treats (Note that this amount makes 1/2 of the recipe below.)

Spent Grain Dog Treat ingredients.  (Ingredients shown are for 1/2 batch.)

This was the first recipe I tried since it didn’t require any special preparation to the grains beforehand.  I simply used the well-drained grains out of the mashtun, this is a really easy recipe.  Googling recipes for spent grain dog treats I found the exact same recipe on 9 out of 10 sites.  Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, my recipe follows most others.  Note on my batch I halved this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups spent grain
  • 2 cups flour (I used all-purpose whole wheat flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Instructions:

  1. Mix everything together until dough forms a firm ball
  2. Spread dough on parchment paper about 1/4″ thick
  3. Cut your cookies out.  I used a beer sample glass as my cookie cutter.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes
  5. Reduce heat to 225°F and let cookies bake for 2 more hours to dry them.  You want them dry and crunch but not hard, you should be able to break them in half easily.  Drying them will help with storage and prevent spoilage/mold.

Let them cool a bit and see what your brew dog thinks about them, Boo gave them her seal of approval.

Fine, human... I'll play your silly games.

Fine, human… I’ll play your silly games.

Cookies cooling off

Cookies cooling off

Spent Grain Flour

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If you have a food dehydrator you can use that for the first step of drying the grains.  Simply line your trays with parchment paper, cutting a vent hole in the center for airflow if necessary.  You don’t need a fancy dehydrator to get the job done.  I have a cheap one (similar to this) and I’ve done dried herbs, fruit, jerky and now grain and it does just fine.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can do this in your oven.

  • Preheat your oven to it’s lowest setting, no more than 200°F.
  • Prepare grains by making sure you’ve removed as much moisture as possible.  Place them in a strainer and mash with a spoon or spatula to get the excess water out.
  • Spread grain on an ungreased cookie sheet (can also line with parchment paper) in a thin layer, approximately 1/4″ deep.
  • Place pan in the oven for 7-8 hours, stirring halfway through.
  • Boom.  Dried grain.

You can then mill the grain in a coffee or spice grinder if you don’t have a mill.  I did mine in my NutriBullet which came with a milling blade I thought I’d never use, it worked amazingly well for this.  I have a love/hate relationship with my NutriBullet, it works very well but I had some leaking issues and had a tough time getting service, but that’s a story for another time… on with the recipes.

Spent Grain Banana Nut Bread with Dark Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spent grain flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (Make sure to set a safe word so things don’t get out of hand.)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven toe 350°F
  2. Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs and banana and stir to incorporate.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing well to combine.
  5. Fold in the nuts and dark chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter (batter should be quite dense/thick) in to a well-buttered loaf or cake pan, I used mini-loaf pans and got 4 loaves.
  7. For a full size loaf you will need to bake for about an hour, my mini loaves were done in ~ 30 minutes.  Check about 20 minutes in.  Loaves are done when a toothpick or butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Place on rack to cool a bit and devour.

 

Spent Grain Banana Nut Bread... WITH Dark Chocolate. (Sexy, isn't it?)

Spent Grain Banana Nut Bread… WITH Dark Chocolate. (Sexy, isn’t it?)

Spent grain banana bread, sliced up wile still warm from the oven.

Spent grain banana bread, sliced up while still warm from the oven.

Pumpkin ale brewday and other project updates

If you’re a general beer geek and follow commercial releases you’ll know that pumpkin beers have been on shelves since July.  I think this is crazy and refuse to drink any pumpkin beers before September, it’s just plain wrong to have a pumpkin beer in July.  It would be nice if craft beer could stay away from the seasonal creep of other consumer products but it looks like that ain’t happening, I’m sure next year I’ll get some pumpkin ale from the Easter Bunny.  But now we’re into the cooler evenings that mark the end of Summer and we’re officially less than a week away from the start of Fall, which means it’s cool to commence consumption of Autumnal ales.  And also to brew them.

Our pumpkin ale was inspired by Southern Tier’s Pumking which for my tastes is one of the best pumpkin beers I’ve tried.  The spices are just right with a noticeable nutmeg front, there’s a sweet milkiness reminiscent of whipped topping and a buttery graham cracker crust – there is some Willy Wonka magic going on in this beer.

Pumpkin ale brew day in review.

Pumpkin ale brew day in review.

After drinking and analyzing Pumking we set out on a search for clone recipes, we found several but none seemed to capture all of what we were looking for.  So we mashed a few together and made our own tweaks and we’ll see what we come up with.  Our recipe included two lbs of fresh roasted pumpkin, typical pumpkin pie spices, a bit of lactose, and we’ll use graham cracker and bourbon vanilla extracts in secondary.  It tasted great going into the fermenter, but it’s basically a soup of sweet wort, pumpkin and spices so what’s not to love?  Let’s see how fermentation treats it, we’ve got high hopes.

Pumpkin ale going into the carboy

Pumpkin ale going into the carboy

Update on hop farming, Domain of The King stout, and Tornado Warning triple chocolate porter.

So here’s the update on our hop farming…. it failed miserably.  The shoots never got more than about 6′ tall and we didn’t get a single cone on any of them.  I’ve heard that 1st year Centennial can be picky so we’ll see what happens next season.

Our Domain of The King stout is in a keg and stuck back to age for a while.   The mouth feel on this one is light and definitely not what we were going for.  Other flavors were pretty good but I still think we’ll do this one again to get it exactly where we want it.  We also left it on the oak too long and there’s a woody bitterness to it, I’ve heard that can calm down some with age so we’ll sample again in a month or so and see.

Tornado Warning triple chocolate porter got some bugs in it, this was totally our fault.  We had it in a fermentation chamber with a 1 gallon batch of Sparge of Darkness, an experimental batch we had going with some leftover wort and dregs off a bottle of Tart of Darkness.  The pellicle on top of both jugs looked identical so I’m thinking we got some cross contamination there.  Since this isn’t a wild strain we may actually end up with something decent in the end.  We’ve transferred this one to another carboy to age for a long time and then we’ll sample to see if it’s salvageable.

Sparge of Darkness (L) Tornado Warning (R)

Sparge of Darkness (L) Tornado Warning (R)

When life hands you tornadoes, brew a porter.

Last week our buddy Stan from Funkytown Brewyard took a trip up to Atlanta for some drinking and brewing and smoking cigars.  We spent a couple of days checking out some of the great breweries and beer bars around town and spent Friday brewing.  We originally intended to rebrew Brian’s Rainy Day IPA but since Brian was running around the Pacific Northwest instead of hanging here and planning the brewday, he was outvoted and we decided on a chocolate porter.  We used a recipe Stan has brewed before with great results and tweaked it a bit to what I was looking for and to add chocolate to our Tornado Warning Triple Chocolate Porter.

Stan is either helping with the mash or making a huge mug of hot cocoa.

Stan is either helping with the mash or making a huge mug of hot cocoa.

That is definitely hot cocoa.

That is definitely hot cocoa.

The beer was originally going to be called Boom Chocolata but thanks to Mother Nature it got a name change mid-brewday.  The weather was actually quite nice for most of the day but right as we started to chill the wort the sky went dark and sirens starting blaring.  Unfortunately this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in my neighborhood so I don’t immediately run for a closet when a warning us issued, instead I start staring into the sky looking for a tornado, which I believe is the recommended way to handle it.  Usually I see some grey clouds and a bit of rain and wind but this time there were dark clouds swirling into even darker clouds followed by extreme wind and very heavy rain.  We almost took cover this time but the storm broke and moved on, it was pretty intense.

For real, there were tornadoes on brewday.

For real, there were tornadoes on brewday.

The recipe used Maris Otter as the base malt along with a touch of black malt, chocolate malt, pale chocolate malt and Crystal 60.  For hops we used Magnum and Willamette to bring it up to 30 IBU’s and pitched White Labs 007 for our yeast.  The ‘triple chocolate’ portion of the recipe comes from the use of chocolate malts, cocoa powder in the mash and the addition of cocoa nibs in secondary.  We’re using both cocoa powder and cocoa nibs as cocoa powder will give a great chocolate flavor where cocoa nibs contribute more chocolate aroma.  Our OG on this one was 1.053 and we’re targeting 1.013 FG to get an ABV of 5.2% which should give us a very drinkable but flavorful beer.

We’re also trying out a new piece of gear today, a plastic Big Mouth Bubbler from Midwest Supplies.  I had some questions on a few of their products and after trading some emails with them to clarify a few things they offered to send me one to try out and review.  Anyone that’s fought with cleaning a standard carboy can see why the Big Mouth Bubbler would be appealing.  I’ll wait until the brew is done for a full write up but can say it was pretty handy pouring my yeast starter into the carboy without the need to use a funnel.  I took a really crappy picture of it to share here, enjoy.

Crappy pic of the plastic Big Mouth Bubbler

Crappy pic of the plastic Big Mouth Bubbler

Brewday: Domain of The King Imperial Stout

Domain of The King is our most ambitious beer to date.  We’ve been working on the recipe for this for quite a while and knew that now was the time to brew it to have it ready for Stout Season.  Oh who am I kidding, it’s always stout season at MHB but I know some of the less dedicated drinkers prefer them in cooler weather.  You see the trick to enjoying a big imperial stout in the summer is to do as little physical activity as possible while sitting in a well air-conditioned house.  There’s your pro tip of the day.  You’re welcome.

I forgot to take pics on brew day so here's Brew Dog Boo in a hop hat.

I forgot to take pics on brew day so here’s Brew Dog Boo in a hop hat.

DoTK tipped the scales at 25 lbs of grain for a 5 gallon batch, more than our mash tun could handle.  We decided to brew this one with a split mash, doing two identical mashes / sparges then marrying them together for the boil.  In addition to the grains we also added toasted pecans and cocoa powder to the mash.  Our dark roasted specialty grains were mixed into the mash just before batch-sparging and allowed to rest for 10 minutes.  This method was something we’d never tried before and we were sure exactly what to expect out of it.  In the end we were a bit under our target gravity but still hit 1.092 so it’s still a pretty big stout.

It's always important to assess the gravity of a situation.

It’s always important to assess the gravity of a situation.

We made a starter with WLP002 and pitched that once we’d cooled our wort.  Checking in at two weeks we hit 1.020, giving us an ABV of 9.6%.  We added 4 oz of cocoa nibs to the fermenter and once we’ve achieved the desired results there (~2 weeks probably) we’ll rack onto some bourbon and oak and add some cold-brewed coffee.  From there we’ll let it age for a few months before kegging it.  We’re also toying with the idea of pulling off a couple 1 gallon batches for some experiments with toasted coconut, chiles and spices.

The samples I’ve tried on this so far are excellent.  It’s a tad hoppier than I would have liked but still quite balanced, and as the hops fade with aging I think it will be perfect.  All hail The King!