My extent of beer knowledge is limited. I know that I like it on occasion. I know that Jesse Hughey knows a lot. I know that there is new stuff popping up all the time. And I know that if you want to be a brew master, you should grow a fuzzy beard.
But one thing I didn't know anything about was "spent grains." Turns out, after part of the brewing process, breweries are left with a remnants of the used grains. And instead of just tossing them out, there are several ways to repurpose them, the most popular being as cattle feed.
I spoke with Aaron Baxter at Deep Ellum Brewing Company, who after many phone calls found a taker for their grains in Roger and Jeanatta West. They own the Liberty Dairy Farm east of Denison and are part of a co-op for Dairy Farmers of America.
"Before we got started, I hammered away at the phone trying to find a way to use the grains instead of just throwing them in a landfill," Baxter told me. "It was really a logistical issue. Then I found Roger West and he agreed to come take them. They have a wet grain mixer at their farm, so they're able to mix the grains into their regular feed."
Baxter explains that they expect to use almost 10 tons of grain a week once the DEBC is running at full capacity. So sourcing the grains is quite significant.
Rahr & Sons also recycles -- or as they put it, they're "doing their part to make Texas cows happy ... "
According to their website, "after each brew day, an officer with the Texas Hereford Association brings a trailer to the brewery and hauls away more than a ton of spent grain."
Making cows happy with spent brew grains is just one of the positive outcomes.
"It's the most recycling we can do, other than the packaging and stuff that comes into the brewery," Baxter said. "To have some of our waste going towards a productive means instead of a landfill is great."
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Jeanatta West of Liberty Dairy Farm made her first trip to the DEBC just this last week. And while the trip through Deep Ellum was "a pretty good culture shock" for the farming couple, so far it's working out well. They've already fed the cows once.
Every Monday West will call the DEBC to get an inventory of their spent grains and schedule a pick-up. Since the grain is wet, it has to be used within a week or it will spoil.
And did the cows like their first taste?
"They did!" said West. "After we mixed in hay and a mineral packet, we rolled it out in the big red wagon and they liked it a lot."