How one Bay Area company is reusing spent grain from breweries to create healthy and sustainable energy bars.
SAN FRANCISCO — It’s a busy night at Mission Cliffs rock climbing gym and the famished climbers are more than down to try some free granola bars. The consensus is good, the bars are tasty, nutritious too. It’s at first a side note they’re made out of beer.
But beer has a way of taking center stage, and it’s obvious these aren’t your typical granola bars. ReGrained is a small Bay Area company that’s repurposing the spent grain from breweries to create healthy and sustainable energy bars.
“We work with breweries here in San Francisco and we take grain that has already been used to make beer,” says Executive Grain Officer Dan Kurzrock. “They’ve taken the sugars, but what’s left behind is plant proteins, dietary fibers, and we take it into our bakery.”
Brewing has the potential to be a very wasteful craft. According the ReGrained website, only about 10 percent of beers ingredients end up in your glass. The rest is byproduct. Fortunately most large breweries have ways of dealing with their spent grain, most often sending it along to farms as feed. But for smaller, urban brewers, the task of dealing with spent grain can be daunting.
“We were homebrewers making beer every week and we were using lots of grain to do it,” says Dan. “It was kind’ve blowing my mind, we didn’t have anything to do with it.”
So now Dan and Co-Founder Jordan Schwartz have started building relations with local breweries and helping turn what could be a waste product into a valuable food source, not just feed for the cows or compost. And it’s not just about energy bars.
“We landed on granola bars as a good first product because we could make a reasonable amount of them by hand, package them by hand, and they’d stay fresh with a longer shelf life.”
But ReGrained aims to broaden the potential for spent grain into other foods. On their website they say “from granola bars to breads, cookies, cereals, chips, and more—we will develop delicious products that maximize the offerings of spent grain.”
They’ve now launched their first crowd-funding project on Barnraiser — a funding website focused on sustainable foods — and hope to raise enough to grow their business to the next level.
“We’ve been selling these at stores around the city for about a year,” says Dan. “Now we’ve figured out some things we want to change to scale, like get some new package that can go through an automated machine so we can grow, and grow sustainably.”
At the heart of the business, says Dan, is a passion for sustainability in what we consume. “Our whole model, from our products to our partners to our practices, strives for sustainability wherever possible.”
Visit their Barnraiser campaign to help ReGrained grow, and to learn more about the company.