You may or may not have guessed by now that we’re big beer fans (umm, Of Hops and Honey anyone?). Fun fact – beer has played a significant part in Randall and I’s relationship. He first noticed me at a party where I drank the beer he brought. (I don’t remember this, oops.) Our first “date” was volunteering at a beer and food tasting festival. (One of us definitely did not think of this as a date at the time – I wonder who that would be…) One of our first dates that we both agree was in fact a date was a Boston Brew Tour. The best present I’ve ever given Randall has been a Night Shift Barrel Society subscription. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
The rest, as they say, is history. Now, we seek out breweries everywhere we travel and the craft beer scene in town is a key deciding factor as to where we go on vacation. Asheville, Lexington, Philly, Burlington, Portsmouth, Providence… we may be those people when it comes to beer. Let’s not even get into how out of control our glassware collection is.
And yet, when we first started dating I was absolutely not a beer drinker. White wine was my jam and I was barely tipping my toes into the milk stout category. These were also my post-college years where I was happy to eat canned soup as a meal. Oh, how the times have changed for the better!
We’ve been homebrewing for about a year, which is a whole new beer adventure. I like to refer to us as the most nano-brew of the nanobreweries. Our first few batches made about a 6 pack each, which considering the time and effort put into making them, made it feel like we better be drinking gold. Since those early days, we’ve upgraded our equipment and now have a fairly good set-up for 3 gallon batches. Which, still isn’t quite enough but supplies us with enough to give out to eager family and friends.
Quick rundown of the brewing process since not everyone is as crazy as us to brew their own beer: A key ingredient of beer is various types of grains, which give the finished product it’s flavor profile. Grains are steeped in water and boiled to extract both flavor and color. The grains are then removed from what is now known as wort and a secondary boil commences. This is when you add hops and other flavorings at various intervals to bring out bitterness and other flavors.
After being removed from the wort, the grains are generally discarded. Some breweries have found ways to upcycle these grains though – Allagash gives them to a local farmer for animal feed and Slumbrew has hosted classes on how to make dog treats from their spent grain. Since we’ve been homebrewing, we’ve generally stuck to composting our spent grains. I’d heard of using this spent grain in bread making, but always thought this would be too much to do in one day when combined with brewing. I bit the bullet on our last batch though, and lucky us, it turned out to be delicious!
- 545 g spent grain
- 355 g bread flour
- 150 g rye flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- ¼ cup Amber Liquid Malt Extract
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 200 milliliters milk
- 1 tsp olive oil
- cornmeal, for dusting
- In a large bowl, mix together spent grain, flours, salt, yeast, amber liquid malt extract, butter, eggs, and milk. Mix until the dough comes together into a tacky dough.
- Generously flour a large cutting board and remove the dough to it. Knead until the dough comes together in a smooth ball, about 5-10 minutes.
- Oil a large bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Flip to coat dough with oil and cover. Leave to rise in a warm dry place, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Once doubled in size, split dough in half and shape into loaves. I recommend either rounds or batards - as you can see I did both! Cover and leave to rise until doubled again, about 1 hour.
- Halfway through the second rise, begin to preheat your oven, along with your baking stone/dutch oven depending on what shape loaf you created above.
- Once your loaves have doubled, remove your baking surface from the oven and lightly dust with cornmeal. Slash the tops of the loaves and (carefully!) place on your surface.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until browned and the loaf sounds hollow when knocked on the base. If using a dutch oven, keep the lid on for the first 20 minutes, and then remove for the remainder of the period.
- Remove loaves to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.