Every work week Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock of DC Brau shovel about 1,500 pounds of soggy grain out of their mash tun. Left to itself, this used-up barley (it resembles “dehydrated oatmeal,” according to Skall) would begin to fester, turning sour and smelly in a day or less.
None of it goes into the city’s sewer system, assert Skall and Hancock. Their usual modus operandi is to donate their leftovers to local farmers, who use for it for composting or, more commonly, for livestock feed. (“Cows are number one,” says Skall, but goats and poultry like it as well.)
To celebrate Martin Luther King Day, the partners set their sights a few links up the food chain and decided to turn their waste into bread for the city’s indigent population.
The day after the holiday, Skall and Hancock sealed five gallons of spent grain in a food-grade plastic bucket and rushed the grain, still warm from steeping in hot water, to Pizzeria Paradiso, which turned it into loaves at its kitchens in Dupont Circle and Old Town.
“It was kind of fibrous and a little dry,” commented Ruth Gresser, owner and head chef of Pizzeria Paradiso. She kneaded one part spent grain into four parts regular bread dough, adding a little clover honey for sweetness. All together, the collaboration produced 65 loaves, which were donated to Bread for the City, a Washington-based organization that provides food and other services to thousands of families.
The group was grateful, mentioned Skall. “Usually, they get bread discarded by food stores. It’s very rare they get fresh-baked bread.”
None of the loaves remained for this reporter to sample. “They had a whole-grain taste, a real richness,” reported Skall when I caught up with him last week at the Pizzeria Paradiso in Old Town, where he was celebrating the reintroduction of DC Brau beers into Northern Virginia. “We’re toying with the idea of doing a beer dinner with spent-grain pizza dough,” chimed in Greg Jasgur, the pizza chain’s executive bar manager.
Skall is hatching plans not only for new beers (an imperial IPA called On the Wings of Armageddon will debut in February) but also to ramp up his philanthropic activities.
Specifically, he’d like to partner with other D.C. breweries and about 8 to 10 local restaurants to produce 500 loaves of beer bread each month, to be donated to charity. “We want to be a catalyst for something that wouldn’t happen otherwise,” Skall says.
Betting the farm(house ale)
Steve Hindy, president and founder of the Brooklyn Brewery in New York City, will likely watch Super Bowl XLVI sipping a glass of his Sorachi Ace. This saison-style ale, now available in draft as well as 750-milliliter bottles, is named after a Japanese hop variety noted for its distinctive lemony flavor.
As you read this, Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco should also be pouring Sorachi Ace in its taproom. And it’s being dispensed by staff clad in New York Giants jerseys. That’s because Anchor president John Dannerbeck lost a bet with Hindy regarding the outcome of the Giants vs. 49ers NFC championship game.
Hindy has a similar bet going with Dan Kenary, president of Harpoon Brewery in Boston, over the outcome of the Super Bowl. If the Patriots win, Brooklyn Brewery must clothe its staff in Patriots jerseys and dispense Harpoon IPA for a week. If the Giants are victorious, Harpoon’s tour guides will wear the Giants’ colors and serve Brooklyn Lager for a week.
Although Harpoon’s Liz Melby characterized the wager as “good fun,” Hindy seemed to take it a little more seriously, commenting in a press release, “It is difficult to calculate the shame that accrues to a brewery that must pour its competitor’s flagship beer through its home taps. And wearing the opposition’s jerseys — you take your life in your hands when you wear a Boston jersey here in New York.”
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has made it official, spurning Virginia and Tennessee and choosing a site along the French Broad River in North Carolina, 12 miles south of Asheville, for its planned East Coast brewery.
Interestingly, New Belgium Brewing Co. has been eyeing that same area for an East Coast branch of its own. “Right now, Asheville and Philadelphia top our short list. No exact locations to report, but we hope to announce some time in February,” reported New Belgium’s media relations director Bryan Simpson.