Spent Beer Grain Gets Second Life As Delectable Doggie Treats

CORONADO – The Coronado Brewing Company is offering a new food item, and it’s not on the menu. It’s a doggie treat made from brewers’ leftover grain that has been one of CBC’s fastest moving products this month. “Brew Bites” are a healthy snack for the dogs and are the direct result of a unique recycling concept.  The all-natural doggie treats contain no corn, no wheat flour, and no soy. Appropriately, the snack comes in a doggie bag, and is quite literally being gobbled up.
Osha, a 12-week old German shepherd puppy, loves Brew Bites. She gets one every day for good behavior. She got an extra one for posing for this photo. Who could refuse that face? Photo by Joe Ditler.

Heloise Love, a North County entrepreneur, created Brew Bites in partnership with her childhood friend, Jennifer McFadden. “Our goal was to re-purpose this spent grain waste that otherwise just gets thrown out or used for chicken feed,” said Love.

Since the dawn of civilization, spent grain has been used by farmers as mulch, and as a feed supplement to fatten their cows and chickens. Mostly, however, it ends up in landfills.
Conscious of the amount of waste that craft brews create, the Chapman family and CBC have been giving most of their spent grain to a Lakeside dairy. Robert Van Ommering picks up grain from CBC twice a week to feed his 400 cattle. He figures he goes through nearly 200 tons of spent grain each year. “You could say it’s always Happy Hour with our cows,” said the rancher.
A beam of sunlight illuminates the rarely seen inside of a mash tun at the Coronado Brewing Company on a recent morning. Photo courtesy CBC.

Grain is the backbone of beer. The grain is rinsed with water to remove the sugar. After the sugar is extracted, disposal of the spent grain becomes a challenge that grows with the quantity of beer you brew. Not so much for home brewers, but when you make beer on the level of the Coronado Brewing Company (they are currently distributing in 12 states and four countries), it can become a logistical challenge of behemoth proportions.

The addition of Brew Bites at CBC has created a wonderfully exciting buzz with clientele. “We’re actually selling way more Brew Bites than we expected,” said Kyle Chapman, manager of CBC. “We keep them displayed in the foyer of our restaurant and the customers have been buying them like crazy.”  Chapman said the product is one of many specialty items they are looking to put in their soon-to-open tasting room and retail area at Knoxville – CBC’s new, 20,000-square-foot brewing facility located near Tecolote Canyon in San Diego. Many of their retail items involve the popular CBC mermaid logo.
Brewer Peter Falletta unloading spent grain after a brew at the Coronado Brewing Company. Photo courtesy CBC.

In addition to spent beer grain, ingredients for the popular Brew Bites include 100% natural peanut butter, brown rice flour, and flaxseed meal. The treats contain no alcohol, chemicals, preservatives or artificial flavors.  Spent grain from certain CBC beers can not be used in the making of Bites Bones because they contain wheat – beers like Orange Avenue WIT and some of the CBC specialty brews – so brewers carefully monitor what goes into the Brew Bites recipe.

This pan of spent grain would be destined for the landfill if not for the creative use being employed by the Coronado Brewing Company. Photo by Joe Ditler.
“People eat them too,” said Love. “I sell Brew Bites at the Farmers’ Market, and every Saturday a man comes by and gets a bag for himself. My business partner’s 18-year-old daughter eats them for breakfast with butter spread on them.
“Many folks read what the ingredients are and say, ‘Why not?’ Actually, the ingredients are simpler and more wholesome than many sugared granola bars on the market,” said Love. “Flax has a nutty taste all it’s own. Then, when you add all natural peanut butter to that, you really have something wonderful.”
Lakeside dairy farmer Robert Van Ommering feeds 200 tons of spent grain from CBC to his cows every year. Twice a week he drives to Coronado and loads up his truck. Photo by Joe Ditler.

In fact, chefs around the country are starting to use fresh, spent grains in cooking recipes. It is not uncommon to find spent grain in pizzas, burgers, cookies, muffins and breads, and the list is growing as adventurous chefs around the world seek that something special, and something new. The grains have to be recovered immediately after discarding to maintain their freshness, but some chefs freeze the fresh grains right away, then use them as needed.

Coronado Brewing Company Brew Bites are currently available at their Coronado restaurant (170 Orange Avenue) and online store, but will soon be sold at the Knoxville facility (1205 Knoxville). A bag of 15, 2-inch bones sells for $5.95.