Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance.
For the month of April, the Weekly Digest is all about beer. Regular beer, creative beer, food made with beer and more. Check back every week this month for a different beer-related topic.
You heard me right when I said, “eat more beer.” And if you read last week’s Weekly Digest post (yay!) you’ll know what I’m talking about. (If you didn’t read last week’s post, I’ll forgive you… IF you drop everything and click here!)
Anyway, this week after work, I took the everyone’s favorite Green Line to Brookline to see another way spent grains are being “repurposed” and talk to the guy responsible for creating these absolutely delicious and sustainable snacks (two qualities I heart very much). I walk a few blocks up the road until I reach Cutty’s Sandwich Shop*. I knock on the door, as passersby give me “the look” because it’s after hours and the main restaurant is dark. “I reeeeeeeeeally hope I’m in the right place,” I mumbled.
But upon pressing my face to the glass, I see the kitchen lights bright and active. A tall, beanie-wearing bearded guy in jeans and a Brewer’s Crackers t-shirt spots me, let’s me in, and introduces himself as Kyle Fiasconaro. Yep. Right place. He immediately offers me a Spindrift soda (thus becoming my favorite person ever) and we head back to the kitchen to see where the magic happens.
Kyle is the founder, baker and seller of Brewer’s Crackers. These fantastic crackers are made with...you guessed it..spent grain from breweries.
What drew him to the beer leftovers? The idea came to him while working in a restaurant in Long Island attached to a brewery. Each night, he’d notice the massive amounts of spent grain being thrown out. Deciding that this was simply not cool, he asked to take some home and began experimenting with how to “reuse” the grain.
Trained at the French Culinary Institute of New York, this chef spent the next few years experimenting off the clock with spent grains in bread, cookies, granola bars and crackers. The challenge was that spent grains can be difficult to work with because the tough hull (aka husk) is still intact, although significantly softened from the brewing process. Kyle laughs as he recalls the failed granola bars experiment, “the grains would get seriously stuck in your teeth.” (Business idea: pair spent grain granola bars with complimentary floss.)
Crackers, however, did not present the same dental issue and ended up being the winning product. I can see why: they are made of simple ingredients, have an insanely satisfying crunch and are nature’s vessel for cheese. (You’d better brie-lieve it.)
While we talk, he’s hand-mixing the massive hunk of dough. Now that’s #dedication. (I’d have given up, thrown the dough against the wall and said “screw it”, or my hands would have fallen off from all that mixing. Or both.)
This batch will chill out for 24 hours to rise a bit (yes, even crackers need a lift). And tomorrow, Kyle will roll it out (again, by hand), cut it and bake it. The result will be 40 bags of crunchy heaven, featuring one of four flavors (he focuses on one flavor each week):
· Sesame Sea Salt (the best seller)
· Honey Graham (like a graham cracker but more sophisticated and less sweet)
· Spicy Peppercorn (legit spicy, not a poser, and my personal fav)
· Original (because everyone likes a good OG)
While you won’t find the crackers on grocery store shelves, there are breweries and cheese shops from Cambridge to Hopkinton that have them in stock, with more on the way. For a full list of locations you can pick up a bag (I’d recommend one of each), click here.
You can also follow Brewer’s Crackers on Instagram @BrewersCrackers to see where Kyle will be sampling his masterpieces next. I don’t want to end with a cheesy line, but one taste and you’ll be hooked.
*Although this story isn’t about Cutty’s, you should defs check them out.