Kettle to kitchen

Dayton duo craft beer-centric menu

By Kevin J. Gray and Hayley Fudge

Photo: Antipasta at Spent Grain

Beer and food pairing is old news. The new dining trend is using beer as an ingredient in dishes. Two local brothers, Tony and Drew Trick, have teamed up to open the first local restaurant with this concept as its driving goal. The establishment, dubbed Spent Grain Grill, opened Dec. 16 and offers counter service inside Warped Wing Brewing Company. Although several breweries in the area have kitchens (Lock 27, Fifth Street Brewpub, Hairless Hare, Carillon and Lucky Star), Spent Grain is an independent entity from the brewery. Patrons of the Oregon District will recognize both Tony and Drew—Tony has been a bartender all around the district. Drew was also an Oregon District bartending fixture before opening Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery several years ago.

This new venture, however, isn’t an extension of Lucky’s. Drew is a co-owner, but his role is mostly a consultative one. He’s using his experience at Lucky’s, where he used his kitchen as a test space for Tony and his crew to try out recipes and to learn to work together. Ultimately, Drew plans to fade into the background to let his brother shine. And this is appropriate because not only will Tony run the day-to-day operations, but he is also the brains behind the recipes.

These recipes are the biggest differentiator for Spent Grain Grill, putting it at the bleeding edge of beer and food cuisine. Nearly 90 percent of the dishes will involve beer in some shape or form (or often, in multiple shapes and forms). The establishment’s name itself comes from the use of spent brewing grains, a byproduct of the beer making process. Tony takes spent grains from the brewery, dries them using a dehydrator, then processes and mills them into flour for his bread products.

Countless hours of culinary research and development have gone into the creation of a menu that can fast track Dayton on the path to being a beer foodie’s paradise. “There’s been a lot of trial and error,” Tony says.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Tony and Drew for an exclusive preview of the menu before they opened. The first course was a plate of soft pretzels served with Ermal’s mustard. Tony uses 10 Ton Oatmeal Stout spent grains in the pretzels, giving them a dark, robust color. With the golden seeded mustard, the plate looks Bavarian in nature. The earthy, rich grain flour gives the pretzels a heft that is filling without being overwhelming.

Next came the antipasta, a mélange of olives, banana peppers, pepperoni, artichoke hearts and pesto, all tossed in an olive oil base. This is one of the few dishes not prepared with beer, but it is made to accompany a pint. Pair this with one of the brewery’s higher ABV IPAs.

Spent Grain offers several sandwich options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The meat for the pulled pork and loose meat sandwiches are both marinated in Ermal’s Belgian Style Cream Ale, which Tony likes for “its neutral flavor.” (Tony is working out a way to ensure that the cows that are fed the spent grains from the brewery are the same ones that end up in his sandwiches. There are some hurdles that prevent that from happening at the moment, but he is gaining momentum reaching this goal.)

Veg heads, no worries. The loose grain sandwich, piled full of spent grains, quinoa and black beans, is the kind of plant-based dish that’ll make even your most ardent of carnivore friends understand that sandwiches can be amazing sans flesh. The pickle and the mustard give the sandwich a bite that perfectly complements the grains.

Tacos and pizzas, perfect bar foods, also punctuate the menu. We sampled both the Pork Broccoli Rabe Pizza and the Veggie Pizza. Tony’s crust is absolutely wonderful—thin enough to be crispy, but with a delicious chewy center that lets the brewing grains shine. The grain flour mimics the heartiness of whole wheat, but is easier to work with so the pizza isn’t falling apart. The red pepper flakes on the rabe give the pizza a kick. The Veggie Pizza isn’t your ordinary, boring pizza full of canned mushrooms and sad, wilty veggies, but rather, a blend of olives, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, piled high over a pesto base and dotted with feta crumbles.

Astute readers will notice how well Tony has blended crossover flavors. Take the loose meat or loose grains, add seasoning, and you have the taco mix. The antipasta salad elements reunite (minus the meat) on the top of the veggie pizza. This was by careful design—the kitchen space is small (only marginally larger than a food truck), so Tony designed the menu with flavor optimization in mind. And yet another reason the team has been working together in Lucky’s kitchen since January—tight kitchens demand a tight-knit group that can work together.

Pleasing Dayton’s hungry hopheads with a creative, consistent menu, crafted from the daily deliveries of fresh meats and produce, is the grill’s first goal. Beyond that, don’t be surprised to see some special events in the future, such as beer pairing dinners and private event catering.

Spent Grain is located in Warped Wing Brewery, 26 Wyandot St. in Dayton. For more information, including Spent Grain’s full menu, please call 937.238.7389 or visit spentgraingrill.com.

 

Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at HayleyFudge@DaytonCityPaper.com.


Kevin J. Gray is Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geek. A firm believer in all things balanced, when Kevin isn’t drinking craft beer, he’s hiking or biking to keep his beer belly in optimal shape. Reach Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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