1st November 2016
Guest post: ReGrained “Eat Your Beer”
This is a guest post by Dan Kurzrock, co-founder of ReGrained
ReGrained is Toast’s soulmate from across the pond, reducing waste from brewing beer by baking goods. We’re tackling food waste at the tap, while Toast are using the tap to tackle food waste. Together we’re challenging the status quo: saving the world can be simple, delicious and fun – drink your toast, eat your beer!
ReGrained got its start as underage, undergraduate homebrewers while students at UCLA. I was brewing beer almost every week with a buddy, approximately ⅓ of a keg at a time. A little background for the uninitiated: the first step in brewing beer is a lot like making oatmeal. You heat up some water and mix it in with a grain mixture. Next, you drain the sugary liquid from that water/grain mixture into a kettle where you boil, add hops, cool down, add yeast, then let ferment. So, to brew each batch, we would buy 15-30 pounds of grain (depending on how boozey the ale was to become). After draining the oatmealy mixture, we then were left with a big container full of grain. The stuff smelled and tasted good, and tossing it in the dumpster (we didn’t even have compost!) felt really wasteful. One of these brew days, a thought occurred to me–what if we could turn the yummy grain into food, which we could sell to friends, and then use the proceeds to brew more beer? I felt as if I had struck liquid gold: this could be a perpetual motion brewing/baking machine! Thus, “Brewin’ Bread” was born (a clever double-entendre because we were UCLA Bruins…get it??)
In these early days I enlisted the help of bread baking buddy (who now years later, we just hired full-time!) to help teach me to make bread and began cranking 15-20 loaves of bread per week. This was fulfilling and fun, and I figured after university I could open a closed loop brewery/bakery. However, I soon noticed that craft beer was booming all around us, and I realized that we may have stumbled into a concept with much more ambitious potential. This is when I partnered up with my co-founder and childhood friend Jordan who shared my passion for entrepreneurship, sustainability, food, and of course, beer.
The thought process went as follows: if we had trouble as urban homebrewers finding a home for our grain beyond the dump (where it would then break down into methane and contribute to global climate chaos), what were these emerging urban microbreweries doing? I had a hunch that farmers would find it less practical to schlep into the city to pick up the grain for feed when they had other more convenient options close by. A few interviews with some of these brewers confirmed this hunch. With ReGrained, I envisioned a business opportunity to simultaneously offer a solution for urban craft breweries to reduce the impact of their waste, while creating a sustainable source of nutrition for people.
This is, in short, the ReGrained concept, which we invite you to explore with us on our website and social. We’ve coined the term “food waste alchemy” for the practice, which is basically the realization of the circular economy and cradle-to-cradle thinking within our food system. ReGrained asks: how might we close a nutrient loop and enable our evolving urban ecosystem to do more with less? This is a vision shared by Toast. We both recognize that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and believe that the brewing industry can lead the food waste fight with fun. Afterall, beauty is in the eye of the beerholder.