Here at Worthy Woodworking, we believe in reusing everything we possibly can. Every scrap of wood from one project could end up on something completely different. You never can tell what’s gonna happen around the garage. Being in the reuse / reduce mindset all day tends to bleed into all other hours of the day, so it’s no wonder I tried to find a way to reuse perfectly good spent grain.
Definition: Spent grain is the term applied to grains (malts, oats, wheat, etc.) used in the process of brewing beer.
As a hobby, I enjoy home brewing the occasional batch of beer, if you haven’t tried it, you should because science is fun and beer is delicious. At the end of the brew day, we (because brewing with friends is always more fun) end up with pounds of spent grains. After the grains are steeped and the sugars extracted, what’s left is perfectly good grain. There are a lot of blog articles out there about reusing spent grains, so I set out to reuse the last batch of pale ales we made to see how it went.
After searching the internet for 10 minutes I found a lot of the same recipes and went with this:
4 Cups Spent Grains
2 Cups Flour (varies on wetness of spent grains)
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Mix all the ingredients together in a mixer.
Note: After completing a couple batches, one thing I have learned is to add more flour if the mixture is really sticky. The stickiness is directly related to the amount of moisture left in the grains which is directly related to how well you drained your wort. My drainage system (apparently) leaves a lot of moisture in the grains (not optimal for either the beer or the treats), so I ended up adding more flour to the mixture to make it easier to handle.
3) Spread out mixture out on parchment paper and press down to desired thickness (about 1/4″).
4) Use cookie cutters to make dog treats.
Note: You can buy the cutters from Petco for $4 or the supermarket for $2 or you can cut them into squares. My research has proven dogs don’t care about the shape of the treat. It depends entirely on you. I splurged and purchased the Michael’s set of dog treat cookie cutters.
5) Place treats on cookie sheet or equivalent and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Turn oven down to 250 and continue to bake for 2 hours. This is to cook all of the moisture out of the treats so they will not go bad in long-term storage.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
6) Place in gallon ziplocks and refrigerate. I place about a gallon’s worth in a treat container at room temperature and the treats have stayed good for a couple of months thus far. I don’t know if refrigeration is required or a best management practice, but if you don’t go through the treats super fast, then I would refrigerate as many as possible.
Results: Every dog I have given a treat to has loved them. I mean, what’s not to love about grains, peanut butter and eggs? They make great gifts and get to know your neighbor ice breakers. No one ever turns down a small bag of free dog treats! No one.
All you single home brewers out there, make some treats, take them to the dog park with your wingman (read: Fido) and go “try them out” on the cute girl or guy’s what-ever-doodle. Ice = broken and you look enviro-friendly, cool (because you brew your own beer) and like a huge dog lover. Score! You’re welcome!
Warning: Married people out there, when you make these, make sure you pick up some brownie mix too. Why? Your house will smell like brownies all day (you have to bake them forever, remember). If your man or woman comes home smelling that, they’re going to want brownies. Trust me.