After a successful $30,000 crowdfunding campaign, San Francisco startup, ReGrained, was recently able to realize a vision of transforming spent grain from a brewery waste product to the main ingredient for a pair of hearty granola bars.
Although many breweries have arrangements set up with local farms and composting companies to repurpose their spent grain, ReGrained has identified a unique opportunity. As many homebrewers have discovered, spent grain has what ReGrained calls “unique food qualities.” Even after all the nutrients have been extracted during the brewing process, spent grain has a distinctive, rich aroma and taste. Partnering with local breweries, ReGrained’s spent grain granola bars are a logical next step.
I went ahead and ordered one each of their two flavor offerings – the Honey Almond IPA Bar and the Chocolate Coffee Stout Bar. Chowing down on both, it really is a tale of two bars.
I started with the Honey Almond IPA Bar. The bar is notably soft but dense enough to avoid crumbling, which they note on their crowdfunding page was part of a reformulation based on customer feedback. The spent grain makes each bite incredibly hearty, with a rich “wort” kind of substance to it. It’s subtle on taste – a natural earthy vibe with subdued honey and a bit of sweetness from the almond.
Here’s my one complaint: there’s no real IPA or hop taste to speak of. It’s a tasty granola bar but it doesn’t particularly evoke “eating beer,” nonetheless a distinctive style like an IPA. I’d imagine this is in large part due to the necessity to appeal to the masses in its current form, but if you’re going to call it an “IPA” bar, there should be a passing hint of hop leaves or hop oil thrown in for the aroma or tiniest taste of an IPA. As a West Coast product, I automatically mentally prepare for any reference to IPA to be huge, bitter, and hoppy.
Where the Honey Almond IPA Bar falls a little short on “beer,” the Chocolate Coffee Stout Bar more than makes up the difference.
The big bold dark flavors are the yin to Honey Almond IPA’s yang. Semi-sweet cocoa takes the edge off the raw, edgy coffee. This is a good “start your day” granola bar, as the flavors grab you by the taste buds and perk you right up. The dark spent grain lends itself far more to beer in granola bar form. The grain, along with the oats, smooths out the consistency. On the whole, this bar is just as hearty as the IPA bar, but far more adventurous on flavor profile. I would absolutely consider grabbing a full box of these.
For a fledgling company with noble locally sourced, sustainable practices, I’m impressed with what ReGrained has accomplished thus far with their bars. But as they state, “From granola bars to breads, cookies, cereals, chips, and more-we will develop delicious products that maximize the offerings of spent grain.” That’s the part I’m most excited about – the future of spent grain. Godspeed, ReGrained.