Can I Compost Spent Beer Grains and Hops?

by Phil
(United States)

Can I safely compost spent beer grains and hops?

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Mar 23, 2012
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Brewing Beer and Composting the Aftermath
by: Dave

Hey Phil,

Yes, spent beer grains and hops are fine to compost. Just do it in moderation with other ingredients (1 part spent grains/hops to 3 parts carbon material like dried leaves, newspaper, etc.)

composting beer grains hops



Consider your grains to be your green ingredients, so you'll need to add browns.
For more information on this, please refer to the following pages...

1. Basics of Compost
2. Composting Ingredients
3. Composting Carbon Nitrogen Ratio

It's a fermented product, so you're going to be adding various microbes to your compost along with your grains/hops. That's a good thing.

Also, depending on the consistency of the grains when they're added to the pile (dried vs. sloppy mash), you may need to add some coarse material (wood chips, branches) to help keep things aerated, unless you plan to turn it frequently.

Hope that helps.

Mar 23, 2012
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minor correction
by: Jess

This is great, except that the grains and hops are not yet fermented when you're done with them! They definitely get going soon if it's warm out, though.

Mar 23, 2012
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Brewing and Fermentation
by: Dave

Hey Jess,

I'm fairly certain that the brewing process relies on fermentation. I've copied and pasted some information from Wikipedia on "Brewing" below. I've also asked one of my good friends, who makes home-brew quite frequently, if he can chime in on the topic.

"Brewing is the production of beer through steeping a starch source (commonly cereal grains) in water and then fermenting with yeast...The basic ingredients of beer are water; a starch source, such as malted barley, which is able to be fermented (converted into alcohol); a brewer's yeast to produce the fermentation; and a flavouring, such as hops."1



1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermentation_%28beer%29

Mar 23, 2012
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My Mistake!
by: Dave

Jess, you're right!

I just spoke with a friend who used to be a Brew Master at Labatt and he clarified this for me...

It's not the grains that are fermented. The grains are used to make the "wort" (i.e. high sugar syrup-like liquid), and the wort is then fermented. The spent grains are then usually used for livestock feed; which is a topic for another article all together.

Sorry for the misunderstanding on my part. Jess, thanks again for clarifying this.

Mar 25, 2012
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Homebrew and Compost
by: Kevin

I've am and avid homebrewer, and fairly new to composting. I can verify that spent grains and hops used during homebrewing are great additions to your compost pile!

Because they're already very warm from the brewing process (might want to let them cool down a little before adding to the composter. (don't want to scald your red wigglers!), they seem to start decomposing within days. About the only thing 'hotter' in a compost pile seems to be freshly cut lawn clippings.

Cheers!

Nov 18, 2014
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Using spent brew grains
by: Brian White

I've only been fortunate enough to acquire spent brewery grains twice, but did mix them into my compost pile both times. Since they are so small to begin with they break down quickly. Just be sure to mix them in with brown materials(leaves, wood shavings, shredded paper) or them may become a slimy, smelly, anaerobic mess. Of course you can always dig them in and turn them under. You can also dig shallow trenches in the veggie garden, spread 3-4" of grain in there and then cover with soil. Do this in-between your rows of veggies. Their roots will eventually find those decomposed grains. The worms will love you... and their poop will feed your plants.

Nov 18, 2014
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Using spent brew grains
by: Brian White

I've only been fortunate enough to acquire spent brewery grains twice, but did mix them into my compost pile both times. Since they are so small to begin with they break down quickly. Just be sure to mix them in with brown materials(leaves, wood shavings, shredded paper) or them may become a slimy, smelly, anaerobic mess. Of course you can always dig them in and turn them under. You can also dig shallow trenches in the veggie garden, spread 3-4" of grain in there and then cover with soil. Do this in-between your rows of veggies. Their roots will eventually find those decomposed grains. The worms will love you... and their poop will feed your plants.

Sep 06, 2015
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Warning when composting
by: Steve Beitz

Here's a dire warning to anyone thinking of composting their spent grains and hops. If you have a dog do not, I repeat DO NOT compost your hops, do not put them in the garden or on the lawn, throw them out immediately in a location where the dog cannot get to them! I just lost my 17 month old Doberman puppy after she ingested some hops after a brew day - had I only known that hops were so dangerous I would have taken some very simple precautions and I never would have used them in the compost - which is what she got into and ate.

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