Lees and Trub – Waste Not!

Homebrew! Have I grabbed your attention?

Homebrew lime mead (metheglyn).

Homebrew lime mead (metheglyn).

Mead in the process of freeze distillation.

Mead in the process of freeze distillation.

Having a home-brewer sharing my kitchen, I’m finding out all kinds of nifty things. I have come to understand the basics for brewing beer and mead, and there’s an experiment in freezing the water out of mead to make it stronger going on in my fridge.

Bottled lime mead (metheglyn) showing lees settled at the bottom.

Bottled lime mead (metheglyn) showing lees settled at the bottom.

Then there’s learning what to do with the leftovers. A lot of lees and trub (the yeast goop leftover after the bottling process) get washed down the drain by people who don’t understand what they could be good for. It’s all a waste product, right?

Hardly.

When brewing beer with actual grains, the grains are removed and set aside. What could they possibly be used for after they have been leeched of everything the beer requires of them? Plenty of things come to mind.

Spent grains from beer brewing resting in the deep freeze until needed for a baking project.

Spent grains from beer brewing resting in the deep freeze until needed for a baking project.

Remember that these “spent grains” are sometimes treated with hops, which is toxic to dogs. Don’t even think about making doggie biscuits with them. Spent grains are sometimes used as cattle feed supplements, without apparent harm to the cattle. They also make up some tasty recipes. A few samples of spent grain recipes may be found here.

Mead lees and beer trub in the freezer until it's bread-making time.

Mead lees and beer trub in the freezer until it’s bread-making time.

Trub from beer brewing is also great for making breads and muffins, though the products do tend toward the bitter spectrum. The breads I have tried have been well paired with hearty beef dishes, and sliced thin and piled high with corned beef or pastrami and Swiss. The breads made from trub support strong flavors quite well. If you are into the SCA, Civil War, or other historical reenactment groups, trub breads are both historically accurate and make great trenchers.

Lees are another great way to be creative in the kitchen.

I have not yet had a chance to try it, but lees are apparently quite good in a pork based stew. The sweetness of the honey accentuates the pork in a way only honey can. The yeast acts as a thickener from what I have been told.

Bread made from orange mead lees.

Bread made from orange mead lees.

Lees breads are also a great way to use up all that yeast and flavor. I’ve been lucky enough to have a daughter who cooks. She has made lees bread from mead lees, as well as cinnamon, lemon, orange, and whatever other flavors my other half brews up. Both the mead lees and the lees from metheglyns (mead with spices) and melomels (mead with fruit) have consistently turned up delightfully tasty breads and muffins. We haven’t tried a capsicumel, but it promises to be sweet and spicy!

I have not been able to try out any recipes that include the lees from wine, but I would imagine they would also make for some tasty cooking.

If you are home brewing, or know someone who is, try some of these cooking combinations with the cast offs of the brewing process. you will be able to experience a culinary treat that has been in mankind’s collective kitchen for over a thousand years.

Don’t forget – try the brew, too! It was the starting point for this creation process in the first place!

Homebrew mead on ice.

Homebrew mead on ice.

— Ann Cathey
Photos via Christopher’s cell-phone

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