Have you ever heard of spent grains? If you are familiar with the brewing process then you know that malts are used to make beer. But what happens to these grains once they have been used?
One of the first steps of the brewing process is mashing. This is where we add hot water and milled malts to a large vessel called the mash ton. We usually use barley malts but sometimes we use wheat too. In the mash ton the heat from the water helps to extract the fermentable sugars from the malts. This step is important to the brewing process because these sugars are going to feed the yeast and allow them to create alcohol at a later stage in the brewing process. Extracting these fermentable sugars from the malts helps to contribute to the beer’s flavor and colour. Darker roasted malts are used for dark beers like a stout or a porter but a light lager or a golden ale uses malts that are lightly roasted.
Once sugars from the malts have been extracted, the brewers can then begin the lautering process. During the lautering process, the sugary liquid, which is now called wort, is separated from the malts and transferred to the kettle where it will continue through the brewing process and eventually become beer. The malts that are left over after the wort has been filtered out are called Spent Grains. Here’s what they look like once the brew team is finished with them!
Once our brewers are finished using the grains, they clear them out of the vessel and load up the leftover spent grains into big bins.
Unfortunately, this leftover malt creates quite a bit of waste. According to our brewer Wilson, each batch of beer we make here at Descendants creates approximately 400 litres of spent grain waste.
There are lots of different things brewers can do with their leftover spent grains. Some examples include compost, animal feed and even baking. There’s even a craft brewery in Alaska that burns their spent grains and uses them to fuel their brewery!
We care about the environment here at Descendants so instead of just sending our spent grain waste to the dump, we give them to a local farmer named Rob Yost. Rob comes to Descendants and collects the spent grains and brings them home to his farm. He uses these grains to supplement his animal’s feed and upcycles the grains into delicious eggs and amazing pork.
His chickens climb right on his wagon to get a taste of some fresh spent grains!
He also feeds the spent grains to his pigs.
The Yost Family Farm raises free range pastured poultry and pigs. We love partnering with them because they believe in treating their animals with respect and providing them with a good life and giving them as much of nature as they can.
Spent grains are actually a great source of nutrition! During brewing, we want to extract the sugar because we need it for fermentation. The sugars feed the yeast which then create alcohol (obviously an important part in beer!). However, what is left behind after the wort has been extracted is the residual protein and the starchy endosperm. These leftovers are protein and fiber rich and they make excellent feed for the Yost Family Farm’s pigs and chickens.
You can learn more about the Yost Family Farm by visiting their website.