When Marley Rall first met her husband-to-be, a hobbyist home brewer, she knew almost nothing about beer. Four years, a wedding, and a career change later, Rall is carving out her own niche in the brewing industry.
It started when Rall noticed something about her husband’s home brewing process. She was shocked by the huge amount of by-product that went to waste after just a single batch of beer. A tenacious woman of many talents, Rall took a closer look and, after some detailed research into larger brewery operations, found much of the same. She also discovered that much of that waste, 85 percent on average, is spent grain that is discarded after its early role in the brewing life cycle.
Rall knew that that grain’s life was far from over. Building on her skills as an amateur home baker, she hatched an idea to bring the brewing process full circle. She met with local breweries to gauge interest and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Now Rall is the face of The Brewmaster’s Bakery, an innovative purveyor of sweet and savory snacks, granola, baked goods, and dog treats made with the spent grain from Seattle-area breweries.
“We had orders from three different breweries before we were even licensed,” Rall recounts, still incredulous, as we chat over crisp, hoppy pints at Reuben’s Brews. “It was a now-or-never situation.” With her husband’s help, Rall gutted the bottom floor of their new home, converted it into a commercial bakery kitchen, and got to work. The modest, bare-bones kitchen is where Rall spends countless hours processing spent grain, milling it into flour, testing new recipes, and producing her company’s ever-evolving line of products.
When she’s not in the kitchen, you will find Rall at Postdoc, Seapine, Cloudburst, or any one of the bakery’s 12 partnering breweries, picking up 5- to 10-gallon batches of spent grain and discussing new product ideas and flavor pairings with the brewers. In addition to the bakery’s flagship granolas—Spicy Ginger Pecan, Chocolate Coconut, White Chocolate Craisin, and Apricot Cashew—Rall is excited to launch the latest creation: Espress-O Yo’Self Granola, inspired by and infused with Postdoc Brewing’s robust coffee porter.
This summer, The Brewmaster’s Bakery will grow into a new storefront and taproom in Renton, with an expanded selection of spent-grain baked goods and 18 to 20 craft beers on draft to accompany the snacks. The bakery’s early allies—Postdoc, HiFi, Ghostfish, and Airways—will each get a permanent tap handle in the new taproom, a setup that will give small breweries a chance to test-run some of their more experimental beers while also featuring their mainstay brews. In turn, the breweries will offer a “taproom-only release” twice a year.
“My dad always said, ‘Don’t forget who took you to the dance,’ ” Rall recalls, laughing. She recognizes that the ongoing success of The Brewmaster’s Bakery and The Brewmaster’s Taproom hinges on giving back to the breweries that supported her from the beginning and were willing to take a risk.
In addition to offering an impressive tap list and spent-grain scones, bagels, focaccia, and 10-grain bread, the taproom will regularly host educational nights. Brewmasters will collaborate with local breweries for tap takeovers that teach patrons the essentials of beer tasting, such as how to identify unique flavor profiles and what foods might pair well with particular beer styles.
The Brewmaster’s Taproom will also be dog-friendly, with a full assortment of spent-grain dog treats available for the beer community’s four-legged friends. Rall, an avid dog lover, donates a portion of the proceeds from all dog-treat sales to local organization Summit Assistance Dogs to support service-dog training—yet another worthy cause she’s passionate about.
“There’s something so amazing about being a part of the brewing industry,” Rall says now, a year after getting her operation off the ground. Amid the excitement that surrounds the new storefront and taproom, Rall is perfectly content to expand the business slowly. She will remain the sole baker, continue to form alliances with local craft breweries, and be the face of The Brewmaster’s Bakery. As Seattle’s brewery scene grows and flourishes, there will only be more spent grain and more possibilities for Rall’s innovative bakery.