Coffee Beer. French Toast. Quiche. Wins.

Spent grain might be magic, guys.

I know. I know. I’m SUPPOSED to be talking about homebrew. Since, you know, that was the basis of the giveaway. And, frankly, the homebrew was delicious. Our coffee amber was well-received (and I’m told it’s been entered in its first contest!), though the two bombers we shared were fascinatingly different. Both quite tasty, but one was more deeply akin to coffee than the other. We speculated that the coffee wasn’t properly mixed in at bottling time, but we’ll never know for sure.

On top of that, we tried a couple of bottles of homebrew from my friends Jason and Matt. Jason’s “Nightmare Stout” was delicious and deep. Matt’s “Damn Fine Cup of Coffee” was exceptional. It hit all the right notes of coffee and stout, without being huge and heavy. I loved it, a lot. I also loved the label, which he drew and designed himself.

I may have also opened a bottle of Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout… But unless you were there, you’ll never know for sure.

Ok. Ok. Enough about the beer. Beer’s delicious and all, but I’m telling you, SPENT GRAIN.

As I planned, I made bread and pie crust from spent grain. I used the grain I’d oven-dried from the second batch of amber ale (with coffee, eventually) Nancy and I made. It was ever so slightly “sour” smelling1 in the grain, but if it impacted the flavor of the finished bread, french toast or pie crust, the impact was minute.

The grainy flavor, however, and the color, were to die for. Full, chewy, nutty and brown. Oh, man. So, so, so good.

For the pie crust, I followed Spent Grain Chef’s recipe almost perfectly. I couldn’t resist swapping out half the water for vodka. This, frankly, was a complete mistake. I’m still pretty bad at pie crust, so I was hoping the vodka would save me from overworking the dough. Instead, it didn’t allow enough gluten to form, nor was there enough water to hold it together. I ended up overworking the dough trying to get it to stick together, rather than realizing I should add more water. (Bill pointed this out later.)

However, the amazing thing is? The crust was still delightful. Very tasty. I made pie crust cookies with it, and they were devoured. The nutty, slightly sweet crust made a fabulous compliment to the best quiche I’ve ever made. (Turns out having less filling than I think I need is the right choice.)

The baked french toast I made is the same one I always make, for the base. I decided to go for a different peach topping this time, because the uncooked booze of the original topping combined with several beers was probably not the best choice I could make for my guests. And, frankly, making a chunky, cooked down peach syrup ended up even tastier and got more peaches out of my freezer. All wins.

The best part, though, was the bread. Not only did it have a fabulous flavor, as discussed, it soaked up the custard mixture beautifully (if not totally fully) and there was substantially more lift and lightness to each piece, as well as the perfect egginess that makes the best french toast.

Even if I don’t make 100% of my bread with spent grain again, I’m never making french toast without spent grain bread again. Too tasty.

And, saving the best for last, the company was wonderful. Nancy, Matt, and Susan were all delightful company. Much like last time, the conversation varied wildly. We discussed Twitter spats, celebrities on Twitter, science, children, philosophy, cookies, beer, and so much more.

Thank you, guys. I hope the next one is just as successful as this one and the last one.

1 I’m aware “sour” isn’t a smell, just as “sweet” isn’t. However, we all know that sometimes that’s the word the brain supplies for what you’re smelling. So there.