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Spent grains: All about barley

4 Spent Grains

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Spent grains are the by-product of beer making, and were once discarded and cast aside with the belief that they held no value. In truth, however, spent grains are a hotbed of health and act as a great source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins.

They’re also rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Spent grains come from barley malt, which is used to make lager beers, and this malt has been germinated or sprouted before it is malted – a process that increases its nutritional value.

This means that spent grain can be added back into your brewing process as a nutrient-rich supplement for your next batch of beer, offering a wide range of benefits to your health and overall well-being.

We took a closer look at the science behind spent grains, and selected those that offer the largest boost to health – read on to learn more!

What Are Spent Grains?

Spent grains are the leftover product of mashing, lautering, sparging, and other processes that take place during the production of beer.

hese grains have already undergone a fermentation process, so they’ve lost most of their original flavor. However, they still contain many nutrients and beneficial compounds.

The term “spent grains” was first coined in 1892 when German brewer Anton Dreher began using them as an ingredient in his beer.

He called them “Draufgängergrütze,” or “draft grub,” because he believed they would help keep his customers healthy while drinking his beer.

Today, brewers use spent grains to add more nutrition and complexity to their brews. Some breweries even sell spent grains as supplements.

Top Spent Grain: All About Barley

The key ingredient in spent grains is barley, and this is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. It originated in what is now China around 10,000 years ago.

Today, barley is grown worldwide. It is primarily used to produce alcohol, but it can also be used to make bread, pasta, and beer.

When barley is malted, enzymes break down starches into sugars. During this process, the plant produces starch and proteins.

After the barley is dried, these components form into a hard mass called malt. Malt is then ground up and mixed with water to create wort. Wort is the liquid part of the mash.

After the wort is boiled, it ferments and becomes beer. At this point, the yeast consumes the sugar and converts it into ethanol (alcohol).

Once the fermentation process is complete, the remaining solids are separated out and become spent grains.

Brewers often use barley malt to make dark beers such as stouts and porters.

Barley can also be good for your health, offering benefits such as:

Boosted Digestion

Because barley contains soluble fibers, it helps promote regularity and prevent constipation. It may also reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and improve heart function.

Improved Brain Function

According to research, barley may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, and slow down the symptoms and progression of this condition.

A study conducted at the University of Illinois found that rats fed diets containing barley had a better memory than those who were not.

Reduced Risk Of Diabetes

According to a recent study, people who consume foods rich in fiber may have a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

Researchers believe that dietary fiber slows digestion, allowing glucose to enter the bloodstream slowly. As a result, blood sugar levels remain stable throughout the day.

Increased Energy Levels

Some experts claim that the nature of barley as a soluble fiber allows it to provide the body with usable energy, as it dissolves in water.

Lowered Cholesterol

Research suggests that barley may decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

According to a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism, drinking three cups of barley tea daily for two weeks reduced total cholesterol by an average of 4 percent.

Preventing Cancer

Some studies have suggested that spent grains may play a role in preventing cancer, though more research is needed in this area for a definitive answer. 

Greater Nutritional Value

Spent grains contain more nutrients than their raw counterparts. For example, they contain higher amounts of protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6.

They also contain higher amounts of antioxidants and 


Less Waste

When you brew your own beer, you don’t need to throw away any leftover grains. You can save them for later use. Some brewers even use spent grains to feed livestock.

Brewing With Barley

Brewing With Barley

The first step to brewing with barley is to choose your preferred option. There are many different varieties of barley available. Here are some of the most common types:

1. Malted Barley

This type of barley has been germinated and then dried. It’s used primarily as a base malt in beers. Malted barley contains enzymes that convert starch into sugars during mashing.

Malted barley offers benefits such as :

  • Better flavor
  • More body
  • Higher alcohol content

2. Unmalted Barley

Unmalted barley is similar to malted barley, but it hasn’t been germinated. Instead, unmalted barley is simply dried. Because it doesn’t undergo germination, it retains its natural oils and vitamins.

Unmalted barley offers benefits including:

  • Lower price
  • Less bitter taste

3. Pearl Barley

Pearl barley is often referred to as “pearl” because of its shape. It’s usually sold in large quantities. It’s commonly used in soups and stews.

Pearl barley offers benefits including 

  • Good source of fiber
  • High in beta-glucan, which helps lower cholesterol

4. Rye Barley

Rye barley is sometimes called “wheat” barley. It’s grown mostly in Europe and North America. Rye barley is used mainly for distilling spirits.

Rye barley offers benefits including

  • Contains less gluten than wheat
  • Has a nutty flavor

Spent Grains: All You Need To Know

If you’re interested in brewing with barley, there are several things to consider before you start. First, make sure you have enough barley.

If you’re using malted barley, you’ll want about 1 pound per gallon of water. If you’re using unmalted barley, you’ll probably need 2 pounds per gallon of water. Second, make sure you have all the equipment you need.

You’ll need a mash tun, lauter tun, fermentor, and other tools. Third, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. The last thing you want to do is ruin your batch of beer by making a mistake!

What Are The Benefits Of Using Spent Grains?

There are numerous benefits to brewing with spent grains. Here are just a few of them:

Reduce Waste

One of the main reasons people like to brew with spent grains is that they don’t have to throw out any leftover grain.

When you make the most of spent grains, you get to keep all the leftovers. This means you won’t have to buy new ingredients or waste money on wasted food.

Save Money

You can save money when you brew with spent grains. Since you aren’t throwing out any leftover grains, you can reuse them again.

For example, if you were planning on feeding your chickens, you could instead feed them with spent grains.

Feed Your Animals

You can also use spent grains to feed your animals. Many farmers use spent grains to feed their cows, pigs, and sheep. Experts also claim that this method produces healthier meat.

Improve Your Beer

When you brew with spent grains, you can add more nutrients to your beer. In fact, some brewers claim that adding spent grains improves the quality of your beer.

What Can I Do With Spent Grains?

There are a number of different ways that spent grains can be used, and these include

Brewing With Spent Grains

To brew with spent grains, first you need to collect them. Collecting spent grains isn’t difficult. Just go outside and look around.

You should see piles of spent grains lying around. Once you’ve collected enough, you can either store them in an airtight container or dry them further.

To Dry Spent Grains

Drying spent grains takes time and effort. However, it’s worth it. Dried spent grains are easier to handle and store. Plus, they take up much less space.

To Make Malt Extract From Spent Grains

Once you’ve dried your spent grains, you can turn them into malt extract. This process involves soaking the grains in hot water.

After the grains soak, you strain them through cheesecloth. Then, you boil the liquid until it becomes clear. Finally, you let the liquid cool down.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a way to reduce waste, save money, and improve your beer, then brewing with spent grains might be right for you.

There are many benefits to brewing with spent grain, so why not give it a try?