HA! You thought we had gotten away from the spent brewing grains motif, but NO!
I brewed a Belgian Strong Golden Ale (some of you may be familiar with Duvel … that’s the target). It is, as the name implies, a higher ABV beer that is not dark like a quad, but lives in the same alcohol range of around 9% while being shockingly drinkable. The shock usually comes when you wake up the next day. That increase in alcohol comes from an increase in fermentable sugars which comes from (in addition to actually adding beet sugar) using double the amount of grain as I use in my Saison which clocks in at around 4.5% ABV. That means double the amount of leftover grain which means more grain to be disposed of, in this case I ended up filling 4 gallon ziplock bags and putting them in the fridge. I made spent grain flour with about half of it, and decided to make treats for the only member of the family who actually keeps me company when I am brewing beer. That would be the dog, Eva. As you can see below, she is irresistibly cute.
Now that I have snuck in a photo of a cute dog (I don’t know what she is beyond “small dog”. The shelter claimed Rat Terrier and Beagle, but she had 3 siblings at the shelter and they all had different “provenances” so I’m guessing that’s not a 100% for sure scientific analysis), let’s get down to business.
There are a couple of reasons to make these dog treats from spent grain. First and foremost, it’s a great way to get rid of a banana that’s about ready to get thrown out. Second, it’s a great way to dispose of 4 cups of spent brewing grain. (See the spent grain flour post for thoughts on befriending a brewer if you do not make your own beer). Third, because most of the starches in the grains are removed in the brewing process, brewing grains are very high in protein and fiber and low in sugars. Finally, you and up with about 100 dog treats from one batch which, should last you about two months per dog. We usually distribute a bunch to our dog owning friends around the neighborhood and my daughter recently had the great idea to drop some off at the shelter where we got Eva so next time we make treats will be heading to The Barking Lot.
Once again, this process can be accomplished without a stand mixer, but the dough is really thick so if you’re going to do this by hand, I strongly suggest a workout regiment to strengthen your forearms for about a year in advance (just kidding) and a sturdy spoon for mixing (that is not a joke, metal would be a good bet).
I usually start this either while mashing in for a batch of beer if I’ve kept the grains in the fridge and it hasn’t been so long that they got moldy which isn’t usually a problem since I brew at least one batch of beer every 3 weeks. This allows for the drying out process to be going on while I’m brewing. I’ve also done it at the end of a brew day and let the drying take all night. You can’t actually make them too dried out.
This recipe is adapted from one written by Amber DeGrace that appeared in 2011 in the American Homebrewer’s Association magazine “Zymurgy”. I adapted it so that it would fit in a stand mixer (I have a 6qt mixer and stuff kept spilling out over the top which is insane) and so that it fills up a standard sheet pan where the original recipe took up a sheet pan and a half.
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Big scoop (I use an ice scoop)
- Stand mixer with dough hook (or metal spoon, large mixing bowl, and forearms of steel)
- Knife or bench scraper, I use a plastic bench scraper which doesn’t scratch the baking sheets. I suppose you could even use a plastic knife … so sharp thing for cutting through raw dough.
Time: about 15 minutes active, 13 hours total.
Yield: Depends on how big you cut the treats. But let’s say about a month’s worth for a spoiled 12 lb dog.
- A bit of bacon grease. You can use olive oil or butter if you don’t have bacon grease but have you ever seen a dog react to bacon?
- 4 cups spent brewing grain that does not contain rye (rye is not good for dogs)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 banana broken or cut into pieces
- 4 cups whole wheat flour (I am experimenting with using spent grain flour for this right now which would make these even healthier, results to be added later)
- Set your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) with a rack in the middle
- Put the brewing grains, both eggs, the peanut butter, and the banana in the mixing bowl and mix.
- Once the initial add the flour 1 cup at a time until everything is mixed together.
- Grease the pan with bacon grease to make it easier to get the treats out later.
- Dump (I was going to say pour but that would create an expectation that this is not a huge, sticky lump of goo at this point) onto the baking sheet and smooth out into an even layer with your knife/bench scraper or a spatula if you don’t mind washing one more thing.
- Cut your treats into the size that you want. I usually try to get them in the 1″x1″ range for our 12 lb dog. My daughter likes to jump in with the cookie cutters and make teddy bear shapes and I have to suppress my OCD so I don’t say something like “The dog doesn’t care about the shape, just the taste, sweetie.” which, though true, apparently is not a good thing.
- Stick the baking sheet in the oven for 2 hours.
- If you had very wet brewing grains, you may want to go in and recut your treats to make them easier to break apart if they have baked together. If you are inclined to taste the treats (there’s no shame in trying one, I did and they are pretty damned tasty) Now is the time to do it.
- After two hours, turn the oven down to 200ºF (93ºC) and bake for 8-10 hours or until they are hard and crunchy like a dog treat. If they are a tiny bit soft just in the middle, you should be okay. If they are soft the next day, you need to find dogs to feed because they will get moldy after a week or so and you have far too many treats than one dog can eat. Perhaps a deserving animal shelter …
- Store in an airtight container. Zip lock bags work as does the ridiculous metal dog treat jar thing that you bought to keep dog treats in even though the dog doesn’t care what kind of container the treats are kept in as long as they taste good (see first picture).