I have been approached by a local commercial bakery recently. They have an very large amount of brownie crumbs (fine) and brownie scraps (chunks). What are your thoughts on being able to ferment and then distill this. Our distillery is not up and running yet but will be within the next year. We wanted to do some fermentation trails to see what will happen but will not be able to distill it yet. Crazy idea? or might this work for vodka or some other type of spirit?? I do not have an ingredient list yet but am assuming a typical brownie recipe of flour, chocolate, eggs, oil, baking powder or soda and of course lots of sugar, etc. I'm a newbie to distilling so please take it easy on me and thank you all for any input good, bad, or indifferent.
Recipe approvals aside, it sounds like an interesting experiment.
My first question isn't around whether or not you can ferment it, you'll be able to ferment it, the question is whether or not it will be worth your time once you've factored in the total cost. You'll need to understand the yield very well, and I'm not sold on whether or not it's economical, even if it's free.
Second issue is fat content, you are talking about a serious amount of fat. Generally this isn't an issue in the distillery, this may be an expensive issue when dealing with wastewater. Realistically, will you need grease traps to deal with the waste?
Third, what kind of volumes are you talking about there, 100 pounds a week? 1,000? Again, this is going to factor into whether or not we're talking about viable business or fun experiment.
I'd say at a minimum from a process perspective, heat, agitate, adjust pH, use both an Alpha Amylase and a Glucoamylase enzyme to try to break down additional fermentables from the carbohydrates. At that point you'll be able to run a few trials to determine the yield. I strongly suspect you will not be able to easily measure the gravity post "mashing", due to everything else in the mix.
Read up on the history of Kvas, Kvass, or Kwas Chlebowy for some insight into a potential process. This was common in Eastern Europe.
You may want to look into commercial enzymes such as beta glucanase, alpha amylase, etc, you'll get much higher yields from all of the flour in them.
Secondly, the point has been made, but discarding this won't be a piece of
cake brownie. You will need to compost it, in all likelihood...
Last, but not least, you will want to acidify the mash, after starch conversion, because they are likely slightly basic.
And pitch a decent amount of yeast. Many commercial brownies have potassium benzoate or sorbate, which are responsible for inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. A low pitch may end up in a stifled fermentation.
If you end up not using these, please have them send me the brownie scraps. I'd say I could eat 100 lbs/week.
I have just finished doing a similar (mainly for fun) experiment using some leftover bread and cooked potatoes from a big festival.
Boiled it all up then cooled and added malted rye, fermented and distilled several times with pot and packed column.
Ended up with some tasty "vodka", some have described it as "buttery". Don't know if the butter on the potatoes came right through the process.
Mixed the spent mash with rye mash and tmy sheep fought over it.
Yield? Not measured. Not economical on a small scale but it is a fun story of re-cycling.
If your operation ends up being anything like mine you will continue to be presented with "opportunities" like this going forward. In my humble opinion stuff like this usually just ends up being a distraction. I assume you have a business plan and a pretty good idea of what you need to accomplish in order to get up and running. Its better to be spending time and energy figuring out how to make the products that you want to make/fit your brand/match your business plan rather than responding to opportunities that other people present to you; particularly if your not even up and running yet. Just my $0.02
Sometimes, it's a good idea to segment a play budget and time allocation, because many of said presented opportunities can provide you with products that are novel and likely to gain attention. Weird stuff sells.
Go to a party and tell everyone you've got booze made from brownies. Watch what happens.