Like probably every other homebrewer out there who has ventured into all-grain brewing, I found myself wondering what to do with my spent grains.
After searching the Internet for more information, it seemed that the majority of brewers were A) throwing them out, B) using them as compost, or C) using a small portion of them in a bread recipe. I liked the idea of using them to make bread, but it just didn’t require enough grains to use them up. Then one day I stumbled upon somebody who wrote about mixing up treats for their dog using the spent grain. I have two German Shepherds at home, so that idea sounded like a great way to re-use the grains while saving some money on dog snacks. I looked into the idea a bit, experimented with different ratios of ingredients and found a simple recipe that was quick and easy to make, which was important since whatever meager brewing skills I possess do not transfer over to baking!
Before diving in with a full-scale batch, I whipped up a small test batch to see if my dogs would like them — check. I then gave some to my in-laws for their dogs to test — check (although they eat anything, so that didn’t exactly confirm anything). I gave a few to friends who have dogs — check. Finally, I gave a few to friends who had dogs that were deemed “picky eaters” and they snatched them up, too.
Once I passed the “taste-test’” phase, I decided to take my treats one step further: instead of just making round shapes I decided to press them into dog bone-shaped biscuits. All I needed was a cookie cutter in the shape of a dog-bone, which my wife found at a local bake shop. I then spent the next night making a few batches while the dogs went crazy with the smell of “beer biscuits” wafting through the house. Now, whenever I’m mashing, I have two faithful companions who lay as close to me as possible . . . hoping for more treats!
I am currently in talks with my local feed store to carry the biscuits. The best part of this arrangement is that I cannot only reuse more of the grains from my brews, but also make enough money to pay for the grains themselves which equals free beer!
• Do NOT add hops to the grain as hops have been shown to be toxic for many breeds of dogs!
• Save the spent grains in a large bowl/pot after mashing.
• If you are not using the grains within 24 hours of mashing, refrigerate them to avoid spoilage.
Dog Biscuit Recipe
(yields 40 medium-sized biscuits)
4 cups spent grain
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups flour
Step by step
1. Mix the ingredients together and press the dough onto parchment or wax paper, about 1⁄4 thick.
2. Cut the pressed dough into shapes with a cookie cutter or using a knife.
3. Place the treats onto parchment paper on cookie sheet and place in a 350 °F (177 °C) oven.
4. Bake at 350 °F (177 °C) for 30 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes, drop the oven heat to 225 °F (107 °C) and bake for two hours. When the treats come out they should be dry and crunchy so they do not spoil/mold. If they are not dry after two hours, increase time at 225 °F (107 °C). You want to dry them, but not cook them to the point where they are hard to break.