Friday, November 20, 2009

More use for Spent Grain

One of the byproducts of brewing all-grain batches is, of course, the spent grain. And lots of it. You can do quite a bit with it - dog biscuits, cookies, bread, pretzels, and so on. I've done both cookies and bread (I thought I posted about that... can't find it), and for the last brew day I thought I'd use some spent grain from a recent Pale Ale to make crackers. I tried two recipes: one from, the other from While both crackers seemed to go over reasonably well, I thought the homebrewchef crackers were the winners by a long shot.

The recipe using only whole wheat flour took longer to bake and the crackers came out tasting like, well, flour. They were certainly edible, but reminded me of something that would only sell well at a health fair. The longer baking time to make them crisp, plus the whole wheat flour, made them very dry - in a dehydrating sort of way. You definitely wanted to wash the cracker down with something. The crackers made with white flour were easier to make because the dough was softer, and they tasted like a gourmet cracker you'd buy at Whole Foods for $4 per box. (They reminded me a lot of Wisecrackers.) They were crisp and crunchy, similar in texture and crunch to a non-greasy pita chip. I also used a homemade blonde ale for liquid, which added a fantastic sweet, yeasty character to the beer.

Here are a few tips for those of you interested in making these (and I highly recommend it - they were very good!).
  • Use 100% all-purpose flour (bread flour is too high in gluten for crackers)
  • Dry out your grains as much as you can, use less water, use more flour, or all of the above. The more water your spent grains have, the wetter your dough will be. You want the cracker dough to be firm and barely tacky; not sticky.
  • Roll out the dough as thin as you can get it. Some people have used pasta rollers to make crackers; I used a rolling pin on a floured countertop.
  • If you want small, regular-shaped crackers, cut them after rolling and use a metal spatula to transfer to your baking sheet.
  • Cool on a drying rack so air can circulate around the crackers, avoiding any sweating - no one likes a sweaty underside! ;-)
  • I found that I had to bake them for 30 minutes to get them to a desired crispness, not 15-20 as the recipe dictated.
These were served with a spreadable Cranberry/Apple/Cinnamon cheese and a Devonshire wedge, but are really suitable for anything. I think I'll make more this weekend; these really did turn out well.


  1. Thanks for that recipe and suggestions! I'll make sure to save my spent grain when I brew--hopefully next weekend. Do you think the type of grain will make a difference? My porter recipe has me using Maris Otter.

  2. Maris Otter would be perfect! It has a great biscuity/nutty flavor that would be great for crackers. Have fun :)


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