Grains of Possibilities: Crafty creations with spent grain

IMG_0529A few weeks back, the Texas-based ladies of Bitch Beer had the privilege to brew a 40 gallon batch of beer at Thirsty Planet Brewing with our lady-brewer friend Jessica Kapusinski on Thirsty Planet’s pilot system. The outcome (outside of the delicious brew fermenting away now) was what felt like 100 pounds of wet spent grain. Being brought up in the school of “waste not, want not,” the ladies walked away with no less than 12 gallons of spent grain. 

Some of the grain, we froze for another day, but for the most part, we had to use it up quickly. Dog biscuits were a fast and easy utilization. Pig treats were even easier, as Angus happily scarfs the grain down as is. However, perhaps my favorite use for the tasty brewing byproduct has been spent grain pretzel dogs with house-made beer cheese. 

Spent Grain pretzel dogs – recipe adapted from

  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 package yeast
  • 3 ½ to 4 cups flour
  • ½ cup spent grains, dried and lightly ground – If it is still wet, you’ll have to add more flour to offset the stickiness
  • 2 oz butter, melted 
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 3-4 shakes of your favorite hot sauce
  • ~ ½ TB vegetable or canola oil
  • ~ 8 cups water
  • 12 oz can of light beer – suggested Hans Pils from Real Ale Brewing
  • 2/3 cups baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk, beat with 1 TB water
  • Kosher Salt
  • 8-12 fully cooked sausages – suggested all-beef locally sourced smoked varieties
  • 1-2 12 oz cans of light beer for the chef
  1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast into a mixing bowl.  Allow to sit 5 minutes or until the yeast foams at the top of the water.
  2. Open a beer and begin drinking. 
  3. Melt the butter with red pepper, paprika, and hot sauce.
  4. Add 2 cups flour, salt, butter, and grains.  Once well mixed, slowly incorporate remaining flour and knead until smooth, about 4-5 minutes.  Dough should be thick and should not stick to hands. If your grains are a little wet still, you’ll need more flour to get the dough to this point. IMG_0483
  5. Pour ½ TB vegetable or canola oil into a clean bowl, until bottom is coated.  Toss dough in bowl until oiled on all sides.
  6. Wet a paper towel with warm water and squeeze out excess water.  Cover bowl with damp paper towel and allow dough to rise until doubled in size for about 1 hour. Pro tip: Now would be a great time to get that beer cheese below started. Option 2: have another beer!
  7. Preheat oven to 425° and line baking sheet with parchment paper or oil to avoid sticking.
  8. Bring water, beer, and baking soda mixture to a boil.
  9. Divide dough into 8-12 equal portions, one portion for each sausage. Roll with both hands from center to outsides to make 12” ropes. The rope should be as even as possible – avoid a thick center, although the ends will be slightly thinner than the rest of the rope. Honestly, stretching the rope around the dog evens it all out nicely, though.IMG_0491
  10. Wrap the dough around each sausage, making sure they are fully covered.
  11.  Bring the dogs over to the boiling baking soda mixture. Boil each dog for about a minute. This bath is what gives the pretzels their color, not what actually cooks it, so the dog will still be pretty doughy when you pull it out of the boil. Pat them dry and put them on a greased cookie sheet. 
  12. Brush each dog with the egg yolk/water mixture, called an egg wash. Top them with kosher salt. You can even go a little wild and add some hearty herbs like a touch of thyme or rosemary or some more red pepper flake for some extra spark. 
  13. Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown and delicious. 

Beer Cheese – recipe also adapted from

  • 12 oz beer – suggested more of that Hans Pils
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar, pepper jack, or swiss cubed or shredded- I went super sharp cheddar, but all would have been tasty
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire
  • dash red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp dijon or spicy mustard
  • 1 TB hot sauce of your choosing – suggested Cholula
  • <1/4 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep it vegetarian friendly)
  • A couple sprigs of parsley chopped
  1. Add beer and cream cheese in a saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until cream cheese and beer are well combined.
  2. Add cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly.  Make sure the previous addition of cheese is melted before adding the next addition.
  3. When well combined, add Worcestershire, red pepper, mustard, and hot sauce and stir.  Add chicken broth a little at a time until desired consistency is obtained (for a thicker dip, add less.  For a thinner dip, add more!)
  4. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm on the stovetop on low or in a crock pot until ready to serve.

IMG_0530You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to admit those dogs were demolished (with the remaining 3 cans of Hans Pils) in roughly 12 hours. They’d be awesome with mini sausages or even as just plain Jane pretzel bites. 

If you aren’t a brewer, check in with your local brewery for how to score a couple pounds of this tasty by-product. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to hand it off in exchange for a dog or two. Be warned, though. It may become a habit.

– Sarah

2 Comments on Grains of Possibilities: Crafty creations with spent grain

  1. I do love a good pretzel dog and some beer cheese! Love to see folks using spent grains. I worked out how to economically dry spent grains last summer, which might come in handy for you lovely ladies. Check it out here:

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