American breweries create billions of pounds of waste every year—and one company wants you to eat it.
Other than correcting someone's pronunciation of a foreign word, there may not be a faster way to feel superior than eating a granola bar—and it works in so many situations. "No, I don't need those Takis," you'll say. "I'm eating a granola bar." Or "I was so slammed at work, I just ate a granola bar." But a San Francisco-based startup called ReGrained is taking that to a new level by making sustainable granola bars out of beer.
According to ReGrained, only about 10 percent of the ingredients used in the brewing process actually turn into beer. The rest of them—including leftover malt and other grains—accumulate as hundreds of pounds (or hundreds of tons at some large breweries) of waste. The majority of waste is used as feed for farm animals, but some craft brewers have found other sustainable uses for spent grain, including turning it into dog biscuits, as fertilizer for certain kinds of fungi, or using it to bake bread.
ReGrained has partnered with three San Francisco-area craft breweries (Magnolia Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Triple Voodoo Brewery) to collect some of those spent grains and to use them as the crucial ingredient in its line of beer-based granola bars. The company's slogan is "Eat Beer," and that's exactly what its Honey Almond IPA bar and Chocolate Coffee Stout bar allow its customers to do.
How did ReGrained's co-founder figure this out? By brewing beer in his UCLA dorm room, obviously. Dan Kurzrock told Forbes that every time he finished a batch of his homebrew, he had 15 to 20 pounds of spent grains to get rid of. "I was just blown away to see how much raw material we used to make five gallons of beer," Kurzrock said. "I had this moment of 'There has got to be a better way to do this.' I literally felt like I was dumping out these tubs of oatmeal."
Kurzrock and his classmate Jordan Schwarz started baking bread from those still-tasty waste products and, after learning how much work went into those loaves, that soon evolved into the ReGrained line of granola bars. The company is still growing and developing even more earth-friendly ideas, including compostable packaging and expanding into a line of cookie mixes.
A granola bar that tastes like beer and is ethically and sustainably sourced? Yeah, you can feel pretty superior about that.