Following the nose-to-tail, no-waste ethos, more chefs and bakers around the country are cooking with spent grains, the aromatic byproduct of beer brewing. Most commonly comprised of malted barley, spent grains can also include rye, oats or wheat. Incorporating the softened grains into foods is more than a way to be economical and sustainable: It can add textures and flavors that range from earthy to nutty to chocolaty, depending on the beer of origin.
Good news for the home cook: Spent grains are plentiful. The average gallon batch of beer produces 2 to 3 pounds of spent grain, and a little goes a long way. They typically go to local farms for animal feed, but ask your local brewery if they’re willing to share some leftovers. Or befriend home brewers, who will certainly have some on hand. Then you, too, can experiment with adding spent grains to scones and pizza crusts, and discover one of beer’s more virtuous sides.