Most of us are happy to drink our ale but some drinkers are keen to eat it also. Sounds strange but are appearing with options to include other parts of the brewing process in our diet. Often these focus on the by-products left by the brewery gate – spent grain in bread for example – but in other cases raw brewing ingredients can also be served as a side order to your pint.
Standard non-brewing barley is used in many foods from soup to biscuits but malted barley has added benefits with additional nutrients produced when the barley germinates and is roasted. Hop shoots are also edible when young and available in spring as plants are pruned. What’s cut off is similar in taste to asparagus – although rarer and more expensive if you can find it on sale.
Brewery by-products such as spent grains and hops are more difficult to use as they rapidly degrade. Being so wet and warm they become rancid and mouldy. Putting these directly into other foods is possible where they can really bulk up your fibre intake. As a bonus barley fibre encourages the probiotic bacteria in your gut to grow giving extra benefits to your breakfast cereal. Alternatively feeding grain to cattle and poultry is a common route for brewery by-products to reach our diet and is well received by livestock, particularly in winter if still warm from the brew.
Our third by product, yeast, is more difficult for us to digest in large volume enhancing gout if you also have a rich diet. Pigs are more accommodating, possibly attracted to its strong flavours, and, perhaps, residual alcohol. Another use for yeast is in beer traps to minimise mollusc damage to your seedlings. It’s probably unlikely that many of us would make culinary use of the capture here – but if you did they would be tastefully marinated.
Written by Dr Keith Thomas