How to Compost Spent Grains


Approximately 92 percent of brewing ingredients used in the manufacture of beer are wasted, according to the Zero Waste Research Institute. Most of this waste comes in the form of spent grains. And while the majority of home brewers discard these spent grains, they are still packed with nitrogen. One good solution for spent grains is to compost them. Because of their high nitrogen content, spent grains are considered an organic green product. When mixed with carbon-rich organic browns, they decompose into black loamy soil in a short period of time.

Step 1

Layer organic nitrogen filled green material such as spent grains, grass clippings, kitchen scraps and clover and carbon rich brown materials that include wood shavings and dead leaves in alternating layers in your compost bin. Your brown layers should be twice as thick as your green layers.

Step 2

Build your pile so that it is at least 3 feet square, but no more than 5 feet square.

Step 3

Wet the pile to activate the decomposition process. The pile should be just as wet as a wrung out sponge.

Step 4

Check the internal temperature of your compost by inserting the probe from a compost thermometer into the compost pile. The probe should extend into the center of the pile for an accurate reading. The pile's core temperature should be between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5

Stir your compost with a pitchfork whenever the temperature falls below 130 degrees. As you mix the compost you will notice that all the material that was at the center is now broken down into the texture of dirt. Shift new material to the center of the compost pile so that it will be broken down in the same way. Shift the dirt-textured compost so that it is located along the outer regions of the pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Organic brown material
  • Organic green matter
  • Garden hose
  • Pitchfork
  • Composting thermometer


  • Zero Waste Research Institute : Beer: Making Bread And Mushrooms
  • Food and Agrictultural Organization of the United Nations PDF: On Farm Composting Methods

Who Can Help

  • Chris O'Brian's Beer Activist Blog: Grains of possibility
Keywords: compost bin, organic green material, brown matter

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.