Because breweries are cranking out batches of suds on such a large scale, their spent grain (the barley, bran, and assorted grains and proteins left over from the process of brewing beer) is often outsourced to farms and used as compost or animal food. According to Chef George Shannon, CEC, CHE, lecturing instructor of culinary arts at the CIA, however, the stuff has a place in the kitchen, too.
Culinarily, it can be used as is, or dried and ground, as a partial substitute for flour. “We have found not to exceed 20 percent of the total flour in baked goods or you lose the gluten needed for the recipe to work,” says Shannon. “The taste has a slight sweetness from the malting process, and I have had people describe a bit of Umami in the flavor from the drying of the leftover grain.”
Using this brewing byproduct has another bonus: “Cup for cup, the spent grain has more fiber and protein than regular or whole wheat flour and the recipe can be slightly lower in calories due to the extra water required to hydrate the ‘flour.’”
Click here for a more nitty-gritty breakdown of this beer bran, and to learn how the CIA makes its use.