I wrote this post a almost a year ago, but never shared it. Obvi not drinking now. Enjoy this new old content!
One of the ways my husband and I like to spend our weekends is brewing beer. It’s usually a pretty relaxed afternoon with a lot of waiting around (until there’s a boil over). Brewing beer reminds me of making jam. It’s a curious intersection between chemistry and cooking that makes it interesting and prone to getting completely ruined if you miss a step.What fun!
One of the downsides to homebrewing is that there’s a lot of waste. We recently switched from a water bath to an immersion wort chiller. The water bath took a lot of water and so much time. The word chiller is way faster, but it uses more water. For five gallons of beer, this is how much water we had leftover from the chilling process:
We run a hose to a trash can that I use for watering my plants so all that water’s not just going to waste. I can’t reuse the sanitizing water and I don’t have anything in place to save other wash water, so there’s still some leftover, but not quite so much.
Another byproduct of brewing is the spent grain. At the beginning of the process, you steep milled grain in boiling water. It’s like a tea that tastes like stale beer! You take the grain out when you’re done. Lots of people have come up with recipes to use for spent grain. Every time we brew, I save the grain, and every time my husband asks me if it’s okay to throw it out a month later. Considering it’s usually sprouting a new cure for the common cold at this point, I acquiesce. This week I decided that if I was going to use it, I would have to do it immediately or I’d lose interest. Not only that, I was going to use the grain as many ways as I could so I would be familiar with easy ways to use it in the future. Here’s my experiment with three different ways of using spent grain from easiest to hardest.
I don’t have a dog [note from current April: Now I do!], but my in-laws have two. The dog treats use up the most grains of any recipe and they’re super easy. I’ve taken to keeping a big jar of cheap peanut butter in my pantry for baking and this was a good use of it. I only made a half recipe of this since I wanted to try the other recipes, too, and it made about two dozen treats. I’ll definitely use this in the future when I just want to use up the grains quickly. I can’t comment on the taste, but the dogs seemed to like them.
Oh, how I love the idea of homemade bread. I love the way it makes my kitchen smell and I love how I can spend the following week telling people I made homemade bread. It makes me sound like I have my life together. Baking bread usually takes too much commitment for me though. I hate waiting around for it to rise. I do not have the world’s longest attention span and after all the waiting that comes with brewing, more waiting from bread does not appeal. This recipe, however, is fantastic. Maybe it’s just the ease of these instructions, but I found a recipe I can stick to. The bread itself turned out great. I brought it to work with some jam made by a family member and it was a hit in the office. I may have eaten most of it.
These are the first things I tried since I love pretzels. The process for making them is really fun, too. You get to play with yeast like you do with bread and you get to boil the dough. The timing works out really well with this recipe since you can make the dough and let it rise while the beer is boiling. Then, you can finish up with the dough boiling and baking after you set up fermentation. I let my dough rise for several hours since I got sidetracked and it still worked out. We had a baseball game the next day so they were a great snack!