Spent Grain: Ben Devlin

While beer has always been a staple ingredient on the Australian menu, craft beer and breweries have blossomed of late, bringing with them an ever-expanding variety of flavour. We spoke to Ben Devlin about how bakers can take advantage of these flavours by using the spent grain leftover from brewing to make bread.

Before we get into this recipe, let’s talk about beer for a moment. More precisely, let’s talk about how beer is made. The beginning of the beer-making process involves extracting sugars from grains (usually barley). The barley goes through a process called mashing, where the grains are steeped in hot water. This process causes the grains to release their sugars. Once this is done, brewers drain the liquid, which is now full of sugar, and use this liquid to make beer. The process goes on, but this is where we’ll leave it.

You see, at the stage, the mash (or spent grain) that the liquid has been drained from isn’t needed anymore. Many brewers will use the mash to feed livestock or simply throw it away, but mash can go on to serve another purpose.

Increasingly, bakers are getting a hold of mash and using it to flavour bread. Ben Devlin has been using spent grain in the form of mash to make sourdough. We asked him to show us how.

About Ben:
Ben has worked as a chef locally and overseas in Byron Bay, Brisbane and Copenhagen. He spent two years at Noma before returning to Australia to lead award-winning kitchens at Esquire (Brisbane) and Paper Daisy/Halcyon House in the Northern Rivers beachside town of Cabarita.

Ben was Queensland Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year in 2014 and has been named one of Australia’s chefs to watch by Restaurant Australia, Delicious Magazine, and Gourmet Traveler.

During his spare time at Esquire, Ben created Beerkary Bakery, a pop-up bakery offering matched beer and bread made from spent beer grain. He and partner Yen Trinh collaborated with breweries to use their spent grain in bread and pastries.

Spent Grain Loaf



80g starter
120g water
100g bakers flour
50g rye flour
50g wholemeal flour

Bread Dough

900g water
960g bakers flour
240g wholemeal flour
200g spent grain
30g salt
30g molasses
semolina (for dusting)


1. Feed the starter. Feed the starter six hours before you are ready to mix it into the bread dough. Mix the starter well in a container and store in a cool place at room temperature. We use a bit of rye flour with wholemeal flour because the rye ferments a bit better.

2. Mix the bread dough. Add the water into the mixing bowl then add the spent grain and ensure it is evenly dispersed. Add the remaining flours and mix by hand just until it is smooth and consistently hydrated. Cover and leave in a cool place at room temperature for 6-8 hours.

Spent Grain

3. Combine bread dough and starter. After the starter and bread dough have rested for six hours, add 300g of the starter to the bread dough. (Keep leftover starter for future loaves). Add salt and molasses and mix by hand until smooth. Rest for 45 minutes.

Spent Grain

4. Fold the dough then rest for another 45 minutes. Fold again and rest for another 45 minutes.

Spent Grain

5. Pre-shape at approximately 800g and rest for 25 minutes.

Spent Grain

6. Shape loaves depending on the style of mould you use. Ensure good surface tension being careful not to let the spent grains tear the exterior.

Spent Grain

7. Preheat the oven to 235°C steam bake. Dust the tops with semolina.

8. Score the loaves.

Spent Grain

9. Bake the bread at 220°C with steam bake/closed vent for 14 minutes. Change the oven to dry heat/open vent and continue to bake at 220°C for another 14 minutes.

Spent Grain

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