Seattle native chef David Hatfield recently returned to his home state to head up the kitchen at Library Bistro and Bookstore Bar. At his previous digs, Cafe 3456 in Bend, the chef followed a locavore, minimum-waste imperative. Now Hatfield is busy establishing those same practices in his new environs, including making breakfast granola using spent beer grain from nearby Pike Brewing Company.
These days a good number of ecominded chefs, ranchers, and farmers from around the country are buddying up with brewers and cashing in on their byproduct—the spent grain husks of barely, wheat, oats, and rye.
"Down in Bend," Hatfield says, "spent grains are like gold."
But being in the business of using every part of the beer buffalo is not just about environmental and economic advantages. There is an epicurean boon, too.
Down the street from the Library Bistro kitchen, Pike brewers hand over the spent beer grains that Hatfield uses to make his golden nuggets of breakfast granola. The blend: hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, honey, molasses, toasted oats, and the spent grains—comprising 25 percent of the mixture.
Hatfield and his crew toast the grains upon arrival. "Once the moisture is out, the grains are shelf-ready and good to go," he says. The chef prefers the grains of stouts and porters for their malted barely, chocolate-y and coffee-y flavor subtleties.
From Hatfield and his granola to the odd-but-resourceful conversion of spent grains into doggie beer bones to big-deal partnerships like the one between beer goliath Anheuser Busch and Seattle-based renewable chemical company Blue Marble Biomaterials, repurposing beer’s byproduct is becoming an increasingly big business. At least in some sectors.
"I’m surprised more bakers aren’t doing it," Hatfield says.
The chef, who currently sources bread products from the Essential Baking Company, recently invested in a new bread-baking oven and plans to use Pike Brewing’s spent grains in housemade loaves. The brewery uses its own spent grain to make the pretzels served at the pub.
For a man at the helm for a mere seven months, Hatfield has done an immense amount of work organizing and actualizing his farm-to-table ethos. His lamb comes out of Bend, from a husband and wife who happen to be longtime rancher friends. And his beef, bacon, and sausage don’t travel more than 300 miles from homestead to restaurant.
But, in comparing his days as chef in Bend to his new outpost here in Seattle, Hatfield says, "farm to table is tougher here."
Tougher hasn’t stopped him, however. His rooftop garden, perched atop the Alexis Hotel produces all of the kitchen’s herbs and edible flowers, and some vegetables, too. Beneath the restaurants’ floorboards, in a vast low-ceilinged basement, Hatfield has set up a growroom for starters—thyme, chives, nasturtium and more clover across the room, readying for the trip to the rooftop. Here in Hatfield’s world, farm to table becomes a matter of feet, not miles.
Try the spent grain breakfast granola at Library Bistro and Bookstore Bar Monday thru Friday from 7am to 10am and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 1pm.