Whether it’s carbon neutral wine or beer made from urine, we’ve always got sustainability on our minds. So when we heard about a company, ReGrained, that transforms breweries’ used grain into snack bars, we were intrigued.
Making beer leaves behind a lot of waste. Once the sugars are extracted from the wheat (or whatever grain the beer is made from), the grain can’t be used to make beer again. This leftover “spent grain” troubled Dan Kurzrock, an economics student who founded ReGrained, a sustainable food production company that finds new, delicious ways to revamp spent grain from microbreweries in San Francisco.
“I realized that we had all of this grain and nothing to do with it. It’s not that brewers are wasteful. They’re not evil creatures who are squandering resources,” says Kurzrock. “There’s just no way to make beer without being left with this stuff.”
And though the used grain can’t be used for making beer, it still retains a lot of its nutritional properties. ReGrained’s first idea was to create a brewery-bakery and churn out homemade loaves. This vision eventually evolved into a snack bar, after realizing how long it actually takes to bake bread. Kurzrock told SF Weekly that they could make 200 bars in the same time it would take to make one loaf of bread. Sounds like a smart business switch – not to mention an increase in snackability.
ReGrained gets spent grain from five bay area breweries, and produces thousands of snack bars everyday in two flavors: Honey Cinnamon IPA, which features almonds, oats, and honey; and Coffee Chocolate Stout, made with semi-sweet Guittard chocolate. Sounds pretty darn tasty to us. The texture is reportedly similar to a chewy granola bar with grainy, slightly crunchy elements. Just to be clear, these bars don’t contain any actual alcohol – they’re actually pretty nutritious, since the recycled grain is low in sugar, and comparable in protein and fiber content to almonds and oatmeal, respectively.
Kurzrock isn’t alone in his concerns with beer waste. In 2016, a small brewery in New Jersey reduced production waste to nearly zero by donating 7,000 pounds of spent grain to farmers, to be used as feed for livestock. The animals enjoy the grain, since it gets sweetened in the production process, and brewers don’t have to send this waste to landfills. A baker in the Lehigh Valley uses up to 40 pounds of spent grain each month to add nutty flavor and rich texture to everything from pizza crust to “dragon bread.” And Florida-based Saltwater Brewery used leftover grain to create an edible six-pack ring, which are totally biodegradable.
It’s never been so easy to be green.