Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Beer and brewery Instagram feeds ("Beerstagrammers" in recent parlance) are full of cheerful pics of taproom and brewery-patio visitors of both the two- and four-legged sorts. There are entire articles on the most dog-friendly breweries and taprooms, and brewery websites highlight their dog-friendly policies.
Some of these breweries will give out or sell (the two-legged) patrons dog treats, sometimes made with spent grain, which is basically the leftover malt after the mash has leached out its sugars and nutrients. There can be a lot of this waste product, and brewers (and home brewers!) are always looking for creative uses so it doesn't get just thrown away or landfilled.
Up until about 2 years ago, I did not like dogs (don't @ me!)--blame it on a couple of scary childhood dog encounters that I (OK, neurotically) carried into adulthood. Then I met Stella.
Stella is the Corgi child of very close family friends, whom--when they told me they were getting a dog--I told them, "Oh, well, I'll miss you." I didn't intend to deal with a barky, jumpy, growly nuisance. But Stella is different--what can I tell you? She's sweet and dopey and hungry and loving.
She's been my gateway dog to other new canine friends in the neighborhood: the gentle giant Sophie, Phoebe the teeny sweetheart, our pretty and fluffy neighbor Hazel, Clancy the oh-so-soft spaniel, even Sherry the part pit bull. Sherry is the neediest, sweetest, most "I"m gonna sit on your lap even though I weigh like 80 pounds" dog friend.
Since we sporadically have lots of spent grain hanging around (hello, married to a homebrewer), I decided to make some dog treats to incorporate some of the spent grain, which otherwise would've gone to waste. Plus they use peanut butter, which so many dogs really love.
NOTE THAT HOPS ARE TOXIC FOR DOGS: This recipe and any recipes that use spent grain must use only the spent grain that has touched only boiling water--nothing that has touched hops or that includes adjuncts like wheat or rice hulls. SPENT GRAIN ONLY.
2 cups fresh spent grains (NO HOPS or adjuncts like wheat or rice hulls--also, leftover grains go bad quickly so please refrigerate them if not using immediately)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated carrot
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well to combine. Roll out about 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. Either use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes or cut into squares. Bake treats for 30 minutes; lower oven temp to 200 degrees F and bake about 2 hours more, or until they are dry and crunchy and dog-treat-like.
My tale is one of childhood trauma, lifelong aversion, and a furry rear end that wiggled its way into my heart and opened it up to so many more dog friends.
Beer and dogs--a natural pairing. And when you meet these new friends with homemade dog treats, they love you even more.