Barley Spent Grain: Sustainable, Symbiotic

Barley Spent Grain: Sustainable, Symbiotic

12th Jul 2021

We at Alaska Ruff value transparency. Because of this, we want you to understand more about what makes our dog treats special. With a core ingredient of our handmade dog treats being barley spent grain, you may be wondering what on earth it is.

Barley spent grain is the most abundant by-product of the beer brewing process—though it is much more than just a by-product. The production of beer begins with raw barley, the precursor to barley spent grain. During the brewing process, the raw barley is put through a procedure called enzymatic degradation. This procedure is what breaks down the barley, releasing the fermentable and non-fermentable carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, and other components. The result of enzymatic degradation is called wort: the substance that is later fermented by yeast.

Within wort lies the barley spent grain. Wort contains bits of insoluble grain that act as a natural filter; these bits are the barley spent grain. Rest assured, this does not mean it is harmful to your canine—in fact, it's the exact opposite.

Enzymatic degradation allows for a large-scale production of a multi-enzymatic system that helps break down and digest food naturally. In essence, enzymatic degradation promotes a chemical reaction that further refines the grain. This makes barley spent grain an incredibly healthy and safe to consume grain with its main health benefits coming from fiber, phenolic compounds, and protein.

The particular fibers found in barley spent grain act as a prebiotic that promotes the maintenance of gut health while aiding immune system modulation; modulation that greatly supports your dog’s overall health.

A healthy pup gut does many wonderful things like…

  • Promote digestion
  • Foster a healthy metabolism
  • Help shape their immune system
  • Help protect against pathogens
  • Improve overall health

As for the phenolic compounds within barley spent grain, well they also have brilliant health benefits. They contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, and antiatherogenic properties. In other words, the phenolic compounds in barley spent grain aid in the prevention of cancer, arterial issues, and chronic inflammatory conditions commonly found in dogs.

The proteins in barley spent grain, well they do something special. The proteins have an abundance of lysine, an essential amino acid. This building block for protein aids in the formation of collagen, as well as the absorption and retention of calcium—it helps keep your dog looking cute and staying strong.

All things considered, barley spent grain is a great base component that provides carbohydrates for energy levels, fiber, protein, digestive support, and more.

Sustainable, Symbiotic

There’s more to using barley spent grain than the health benefits; it’s actually a sustainable resource that can establish a symbiotic relationship between businesses. As you know by now, barley spent grain comes from the beer brewing process. This inherently means that barley spent grain is produced by breweries. With breweries being rather common, this means that the United States generates nearly 6 billion pounds of spent grain annually.

To put that number into perspective, there are an approximate 7,450 breweries residing within the United States—about 40 of those call Alaska their home. This means that, using ruff numbers, Alaska alone can generate up to 32 million pounds of barley spent grain annually. Narrowing it down to individual breweries, and you get around 800,000 lbs of barley spent grain annually. To say the least, that is a lot of spent grain.

With the apparent abundance of barley spent grain, many breweries run into issues when disposing of the by-product. Some throw as much away as they can, others burn the spent grain, and many of them actually look to sell the spent grain to local bakeries or farmers. This is where the symbiotic relationship comes into play. Rather than figuring out methods of disposing the by-product, we should be leaning into repurposing the spent grain.

Alaska Ruff purchases our barley spent grain from the Glacier Brewhouse. In doing so, we hope to both promote symbiotic business relationships between local companies and their local breweries, while also spreading awareness of the healthy nature of this often overlooked and sustainable by-product.