DC Brau, Pizza Paradiso brew up holiday help for those in need

WASHINGTON — Pizzeria Paradiso is known for its Neapolitan-style pizza and craft beer, and this month it’s combining the two with a brewer’s-grain crust, made from DC Brau’s spent grains.

The beer-turned-pizza project launched eight years ago when DC Brau co-founder and CEO Brandon Skall approached Pizzeria Paradiso about teaming up to use the grain that’s leftover from the brewing process to make bread for the D.C.-based nonprofit Bread for the City.

Paradiso agreed, and each year around Thanksgiving, the two businesses drop off about 200 loaves of fresh, warm bread to the organization, which provides food, clothing, medical care and social services to those in need.

But their efforts don’t stop there.

Throughout the holiday season, Pizzeria Paradiso continues to make use of DC Brau’s brewing byproduct, which otherwise is donated to a local farmer to mix into his livestock feed, by offering a special spent-grain crust. Proceeds from the pizza go directly to Bread for the City.

Ruth Gresser, owner of Pizzeria Paradiso, describes the brewer’s-grain crust as having a heartier texture and “a little more grainy of a flavor” than the traditional white-flour crust, and said it pairs great with a number of Paradiso’s signature pies, such as the Atomica (tomato sauce, salami, kalamata olives, hot pepper flakes and mozzarella) and the Bosco (tomato sauce, spinach, mozzarella, mushrooms and red onions).

“But mostly, it’s to repurpose something that is otherwise going in the trash, and it’s also just in support of a really good organization,” said Gresser, who estimates the pizzeria sells about 20 to 30 of the special crusts a night.

Grain is one of a handful of ingredients used in the beer-making process. And as Jeff Hancock, co-founder and head brewmaster DC Brau, explained, there’s value in its post-soak scraps.

“Once it goes through the mashing and the brewing process, there’s still a trace amount of nutrients left [in the grain]. You still have the barley husk, which is a great source of fiber,” Hancock said.

Craft breweries around the country have found innovative ways to repurpose the residual grains. Farmers and gardeners can use it to fertilize fields; others find it works as an alternative source of energy. But for DC Brau and Pizzeria Paradiso, giving local diners an opportunity to help feed the less fortunate makes sense — especially this time of year.

“It really just reminds everybody what the holiday season is about, and you get to come and enjoy pizza and beer while you’re participating,” DC Brau’s Skall said.

DC Brau and Pizzeria Paradiso’s spent-grain crust is available at all Pizzeria Paradiso locations through Dec. 24.

Pizzeria Paradiso is also running a “give a can, get a can” event, where diners who bring in a can of food for Martha’s Table get a free can of beer Dec. 16 at the Hyattsville location, Dec. 17 at the new Spring Valley location and Dec. 18 at the Dupont location.

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