A Sustainable Snack With A Microbrew Twist
When it comes to beer—particularly that of the micro variety—my colleagues are devoted enthusiast. I, however, am the lone gal out. I’m all about the benefits of grain, but have never been as psyched about consuming them as my friends and colleagues at Oliver Russell. That is, until now that I’ve discovered ReGrained, a Bay Area startup that is making beer you can eat in the form of a snack bar created from brewers’ leftover grain. Not only is this new snack bar nutritious, it’s sustainable too. Innovation with a mission to do good? Now that’s a beer I can get excited about.
ReGrained founders Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz were undergraduate students at UCLA when it all started. They had an interest in craft beer but lacked the money (and valid ID’s) to purchase it. So they decided if they couldn’t buy the beer, they might as well make it themselves. What quickly caught them by surprise was the sheer amount of product they had left over after each batch.
“We didn’t have a compost bin, let alone any farm animals to feed out back of our frat house home-brewery,” the pair writes on their website. “So week after week, vats of oatmeal were tipped into the dumpster. The soaked malts smelled edible, reminiscent of bread, and as most homebrewers eventually discover, they were tasty too. An idea struck. Sure, we didn’t have farm animals, but we had plenty of the next best thing: hungry party animals.”
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ReGrained’s mission is simple. Reduce food waste made by brewing beer and turn it into an edible product for the masses. In the beginning, Kurzrock and Schwartz started using their leftover grain to bake bread, and the end product became popular on their campus. As demand increased, they transitioned from bread to granola bars, a less labor-intensive product that allowed them to serve more people and reuse more grain. That’s when ReGrained was born.
Today, the company partners with Bay Area breweries to turn their spent grain (or supergrain as they call it) into tasty granola bars. Reusing grain is especially helpful to urban brewers because cost to constantly haul away leftover grain can get pricey.
Once Kurzrock and Schwartz discovered that spent grain is not just leftover waste, but is actually quite nutritious, the magic happened. Stripped of its sugar in the brewing process, the grain retains a ton of fiber and protein—the perfect base for an afternoon snack. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Recently the pair raised $30,000 with more than 350 backers on Barnraiser, a crowdfunding site for food and farming communities. These new funds will help ReGrained develop new products and continue their sustainability mission.
Currently, the company is using capital they raised through crowdfunding and a current seed series toward researching compostable packaging to further develop their product into flour that can be used as an ingredient in other foods and baked goods.
I have to admit I was skeptical before biting into this bar. Most nutritional bars are too sweet for me, plus this one is made out of leftover beer which is not my first choice of ingredient. However, after my first bite of the Chocolate Coffee Stout, I knew I had found a bar (and a beer) that suited my tastes. A combination of espresso and chocolate, the semisweet snack bar reminded me of the exact flavors I am looking for on a long day of hiking. Any bite that makes me feel like I’m happy on a mountain is a bite I can enjoy.
As the company continues to grow, all I can say is if their future products are as good as their snack bars, we are all in for a treat. From their snack bars to their clever apparel—they have an "Eat Beer" t-shirt—you can find all their current products at their online store. As ReGrained states on their website, "cheers to having your beer...and eating it too." I'll raise my glass to that.
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