Dogs and beer are two of the things that make me happy in this world, and who knew that making beer could also be used make dogs happy?! My lovely hippie friends, Nicole and Christopher - you may remember them from my Compost Imposter post a while back! Today Nicole shares her recipe for using spent grains from homebrewing to make tasty treats for your pup. Check out her post below! -Reese
There are few things better than sitting down after a long day and enjoying a quality beer. It's even more satisfying when you brewed that beer yourself! Maybe that's why my husband and I find ourselves homebrewing about every other weekend. That or the fact that we are in the planning stages of starting a real life brewery. More to come on that front.
We began homebrewing our own beer after I bought my husband, Christopher, a homebrew kit for his birthday. The first couple of batches were from kits that included the malt extract, hops, and yeast. All we had to do was add water and presto! We made beer. (It's slightly more complicated than that but I won't get into it here.)
After we didn't screw up the first couple of brews and realized they tasted pretty good, Christopher wanted to advance his skills and move to all grain brewing. That's where you don't get this nicely packaged liquid malt extract you just need to add to water but you actually have to steep the grains in hot water for an hour or so to create the sugary wort yourself. So we went to a local homebrew store and bought our 12 lbs of various grains and brewed our next batch.
As brew day was coming to a close and the yeast was doing its thing to the wort we just created, we looked around and started the cleanup process. Now instead of just having a dirty, empty pot to clean we now had a cooler full of wet, soggy, spent grains. What to do? Well for that first batch (and many others down the road until we started composting) they went into the garbage. Ugh. I didn't like it from the start.
There's got to be something else we can do with these spent grains.
So I took to the internet. Turns out there a lot of things you can do with spent grains. From composting, which we now do for most of our brews, to drying out and making flour, to growing mushrooms, to making dog treats. "Now we're talking" I thought as I came across a recipe for the dog treats. I should mention we have a husky, Bella, who is always a non-active participant to our brew days. This would be a great way for her to get some benefit from the long brew day we just made her sit through and make me feel slightly less guilty about the wasted spent grains going into the garbage.
The first batch of dog treats I made were a success! The hardest part was finding a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter. Bella ate them up. Literally. Over the years I've moved away from the fun shaped treats and just started rolling them into small balls before baking. Let's be honest, the fun shaped treats were for my benefit. Besides being slightly larger and therefore getting more each time I gave her a treat, Bella couldn't have cared less if they were shaped like a dog bone or not.
So a new hobby was formed, and now after the grains are spent I'll scoop out a few cups, add flour, egg, and peanut butter, and throw them into the oven to restock Bella's dog treat inventory. The rest of the spent grains make their way into our compost bin.
Brewing an average of 2 times a month with now 10 gallon batches, that's about 240 lbs of grains that DON'T end up in the land fill.
Knowing the grains are doing their part to make either my dog or my future garden happy instead of adding to landfill waste makes drinking our finished product at the end of a long day even more satisfying.
Recipe for Spent Grain Dog Treats
4 cups spent grain
2 cups flour
2 large eggs
1 cup natural peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Blend all ingredients together in a large bowl
Optional: roll out on floured surface and use a cookie cutter to make desired shapes
Plop onto cookie sheet
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
Reduce heat to 225 for 2 hours
Let cool and let your furry friend enjoy!