The truth about using Spent Beer Grain in your Garden

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Fantastic thread- now I have to go get a beer and relax after laughing so much!!!!
Paul

Northern California, United States(Zone 9a)

Oh my, I almost peed my pants! :~o

Denham Springs, LA(Zone 8b)

No no, save that for the compost pile!

Northern California, United States(Zone 9a)

Yeah, probably would improve the smell!

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

OK Ozark, now I have a question. Would the leftover yeast liquid from homebrewing be good on a compost pile? Would the yeast organisms help to decompose the pile? I know a couple of years ago I poured some on a hosta and the thing exploded with growth! Did the yeast compost the organic material around the hosta and make the soil richer therefore resulting in a growth spurt for the plant? Just wondering as it is getting warm enough here to start making beer again and saw this thread.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

postmandug - Beer yeast would be a good ingredient in a compost pile. It's very rich in all kinds of nutrients, as well as being the strongest known source of vitamin B-12.

So far as the live yeast cells working the compost - no. They have to be in liquid at a certain temp and acidity range to survive, and in a compost pile they'd die as quickly as fish out of water.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

Thanks Oz, no since wasting it though. When I'm done brewing I'll pour it on the top of the pile. The weather should be nice enough by then it will last a few days before dying. Actually I have poured it down my drain several times to help my septic system and it seemed to have helped considerably

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Or if it's a good source for B-12, you might wanna use it on newly transplanted plants - isn't that what they use to get roots going? That would explain your hosta 'explosion' as well...

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Interesting - I didn't know vitamin B-12 was used in gardening.

Brewer's yeast is THE source of B-12 - that's what they make the tablets out of. Large breweries sell three by-products as well as beer - spent grain for animal feed, brewer's yeast for B-12, and captured pure CO2 gas from fermentation to the bottled gas industry.

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Okay, Ozark - you're making me question myself... lemme go post on Propagation...

Northeast, OH(Zone 5b)

I'm going to try planting in strawbales for the first time. Would the yeast help in "cooking" the bales? Does it have to be brewers yeast?

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

Have you asked in the strawbale forum? :) They've been doing it for a long time over there. Looks fun!

Susan

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

The Brugmansia people have something they call "The Recipe" that includes beer, and molassis, and ammonia.... They certainly like it, it stays up near the top of the Brugmansia forum's threads.

Long ago my uncle fed mash to his cows. They really loved it, and staggered a bit as they came out of the barn.

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

:) I bet they did ;)

Austell, GA(Zone 7a)

Susan, I have just found this post. You are hilarious, gal! I chuckled out loud a couple of times reading this. Did you get the smell out of the truck?

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

Yes :) Finally... But I still haven't got the desire to go get any more beer grain.. It wasn't like childbirth where you forget and do it again.. I still have vivid olfactory recall about the whole thing.

:)

Susan

Austell, GA(Zone 7a)

I guess not - that was a tough lesson there.

Cleveland, OH

.....I have just started picking up spent Brewers grains from a local brewery for use in the garden ...... I am using it to prepare 3 large garlic beds for October planting....... To date I have picked up about 5000 pounds wet weight to be applied at a rate of about a 1/2 inch coating ........... Some of the brews I picked up were different grains and have different odors.... The first batch was a mix of grains with a lot of hops and was the strongest smelling . All the batches had a very strong odor and if you were not used to it, would be quite offensive....The grains were very fresh , just taken out of the tanks when I picked them up............. I have been applying the grains directly to the garden and tilling them in not composting them first... .. The smell for the most part dissappeared with in a few days and was sweet smelling soil after about 10 days ( after I rototilled 2 other times to keep Oxygen in contact so it will break down quickly and kept the soil moist..) ............ According to Rodale's Book on Composting , you should treat this brewry grain material as if it were manure.... As a organic source it is very high in nitrogen ( 4% dry) ..... I also think as the brewers grains contain the germ of the grain which is very high in protien, oils, nutrients, yeasts , sugars, celluolose.... I think the soil bacteria and fungi is having a feast on this stuff............ It seems to be a good soil conditioner as well with all of the celulouse in it...........I noticed where I washed out the buckets near some flowers, the flowers have almost increased 30% in size compared to the other flowers that did not recieve any.... Evidenlty the brewers yeast is a major player in this cook as well........ I am very excited and have very high hopes for this......This is just the tip of the iceburg of what ingedients I have applied to these garlic beds but that will be anouther thread.... ....... John Cremati , Cleveland, Ohio. [email protected]

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 4b)

Which brewery, John?

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I expect a large part of the reason for the stench of the rotten barley was a lack of oxygen and anaerobic decay. Getting oxygen into it keeps it smelling better. My compost pile is largely spent grain and grass clippings. It does not stink.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

"Evidenlty the brewers yeast is a major player in this cook as well... "
--------------------

There wouldn't be brewers yeast in spent brewing grain. The process is that the grain gets rinsed with hot water (a process called sparging). Then the liquid, not the grain, is cooled and has yeast added to it to ultimately become beer. Fermentation begins at that point.

A big layer of yeast is left in the bottom of fermenters after finished beer is removed for bottling or kegging. That brewers yeast is interesting stuff - it's the richest known source of vitamin B12, and it's also great to flush down drains for a healthy septic tank. I imagine it would be a real good addition to compost and soil - so gardeners getting spent grain from a brewery might also want to ask for some spent yeast.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

No yeast in the spent grain. The yeast is added after extracting the starches from the grain.

Missouri City, TX

Most breweries reuse their yeast - it eats sugar and converts it into alcohol, while releasing carbon dioxide, and replicating. Big breweries sell the excess.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Yes, but yeast increases to something like 1.2 million times the original number of yeast cells in the process of fermenting beer. Breweries save and re-pitch a small amount of yeast, but the rest is excess.

As you say, big breweries sell their extra yeast (that's where vitamin B12 capsules and supplements come from), but small breweries throw many gallons of brewers yeast away - down the drain.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

It must aid in sewage processing :-)

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

Good Luck John! :)

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

"It must aid in sewage processing :-)"
-------------------------

It does. I do my homebrewing outdoors, but when I'm washing out carboys and have brewer's yeast to dispose of I bring it inside to pour down the kitchen sink. Yeast is great for septic tanks.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

I do the same thing Ozark.

Doug

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

The city gets some mine - no ceptic.

Any issues with putting it in a compost pile?

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Yeast oughta be fine in a compost pile. Yeast cells are fungi that are packed with lots of vitamins and nutrients. They're just one-celled mushrooms and should be very good for composting.

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

Anybody suggest to you to spray that foul stuff down with EM?

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

EM?

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

Effective Microrganisms...used in zoos to spray down the cages to eliminate odors. It is used to make Bokashi which is used to compost (ferment) organic waste. You might check the past posts on Bokashi or go to www.EMamerica.com , I thought, at first, it was really just one of those fazes and a 'pop' product... No more...I am convinced it works, and how it works!!!!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Beer and bread yeasts don't create foul odors unless left to sit anaerobically for long periods of time where they decompose. The same is true for an active compost pile. Turning is necessary. The dead yeast are also food for bacteria as Ozark mentioned. I do like to innoculate a new compost pile with preferential organisms, but once its going it is self innoculating. I would guess that the innoculation is the EM needed?

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

I have no answers...just a newbie myself. Bacteria does break down the compost...

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

There are some very useful bacteria available for many purposes now. I've always had a problem with the drain from our kitchen sinks because that pipe runs the length of the house, underneath, with very little drop to it. Even though we try not to put grease down the drain, that pipe clogs up with kitchen grease every couple of years. Twice before, I've had to crawl under the house with a hacksaw, cut it out, drag it outside for cleaning with a hose, get new fittings and cement, and put it all back together - a terrible job.

A couple of weeks ago it clogged up again and my attempts to clear it with a plumbing snake were unsuccessful. I bought a gallon of "Main Line Cleaner" at Lowe's - and the active ingredient is a strain of live bacteria that eats grease! After using it the traps under our sinks "bubbled" for three days just like an airlock on a homebrew fermenter - the bacteria were working and producing CO2!

The bacteria cleaned that line out slick as a whistle - I ran a snake down it and couldn't even find any greasy residue. Now I'm putting a preventitave cup of that stuff down the drain every week, as per instructions.

The reason I mention this here is that composting is made possible by beneficial bacteria, and there are a lot of beneficial ones. I think many more products in the future will take advantage of that.

Missouri City, TX

Thank you Ozark.
Have a friend with a problem under his slab - the soil shrunk, so the waste line sagged. It gets clogged.
Estimates to tunnel under the slab to fix are hundreds of dollars a foot - overall, many thousands of dollars.
He will give this a try.

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

I pour EM down my sinks....it is really healthy for the Cess Pool/Septic Systems. I spray it on piles of palm fronds and banana leaves under the trees....and they break down alot faster...and am now using 1/2 the fertilizer as before with the same results. (and on 12 acres that helps!!!). I sprayed my greenhouse with it...it is good against fungi and other pathogens lurking around....

Cleveland, OH

I recently put 950 pounds dry weight of spent Brewers grains on a 400 square foot plot. It broke down quite quickly ( 6 weeks) as I tilled the plot weekly to areate the plot to hasten the breakdown.... I was trying to have the plot ready for Planting Garlic by Oct. 15...... Then a gardner friend of mine said that the Spent Brewrey grains are rated at 1% nitrogen! ...... This is the equivialent of putting roughly 950 pounds per acre of nitrogen on this small plot.Commercial growers at most use only 200 pounds of Nitrogen per acre......???????/....Question is , what will the excess nitrogen levels do to my garlic? ... ........

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

Guess you will soon find out, eh?

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