Several years ago, to my great pleasure, my husband took up small batch beer brewing, providing a regular source of delicious home craft beer for me to cook with and drink.
The only downside of having a home brewer in the family (other than the kitchen being overtaken for a few hours every other month or so) is seeing just how much expended grains need to be dealt with. It's a LOT, even for a smaller batch - and while we had a compost pile to put them into, it still seemed like a lot of waste. Now, we've moved into an apartment and there is no compost pile to use - and the homebrewing has cut way down as a result.
We toyed a little with reusing the grains, as dog treats (but our dog does not need the amount of treats that come from even one batch), but we never thought to try using them for people food.
ReGrained did just that - they started out by using their homebrewed spent grains to make bread for their friends, and then went on to work with local craft breweries in the San Franscisco area to create tasty granola bars that are also sold in the San Francisco area as well as through their website.
I received a bar each of their two varieties to try out for review, and was very impressed that these bars come from something that can be a really serious waste issue - because breweries are otherwise left to either manage a compost heap (or mountain), which involves a balance of other materials to maintain or the grains wind up in a landfill somewhere.
Each ReGrained bar is about 4" long, wrapped in a completely compostable wrapper, and comes in at about 140 calories, making it just right for a snack full of fiber and quick energy.
It is important to point out that this isn't paleo, or gluten-free (it is after all, primarily focused on spent barley), and because they work with a number of local breweries, it may not be entirely organic either. Both bars also are listed as including soy and almonds. What sets it apart is that it is sustainable, and I do think the remaining ingredients are a vast improvement over the average grocery store granola bar, but if you have food preferences or limitations, do pay attention to the ingredients list.
|ReGrained Honey Almond IPA Bar|
The first one I tried was the Honey Almond IPA Bar - it was the one I was most hesitant about, because I find the extreme hopping of most IPAs to be unpleasant. But my husband pointed out that IPAs get most of their hoppiness after the grains have been removed, so this wouldn't include any actual hoppy notes - it this case, the name is primarily fanciful - honey and almond is what comes through.
As you can see, the bar is chock full of crunchy nuts and grains, held together by a somewhat gooey blend of syrups, so that the mouth feel is both chewy and gooey, as well as crunchy. I liked the taste just fine, and felt satiated after, so I think it makes for a good midafternoon snack. It also made me thirsty, so enjoy this with a nice glass of water or, you know, beer!
This one is definitely one I'd want to try again!
If you avoid alcohol, no worries - the expended grains are removed well before the brew has become alcoholic, so the bars are using simply cooked grains that have been toasted and ground. They never come near the beer-to-come.
As I mentioned earlier, ReGrained Bars are available in several venues in the San Francisco area, and are also available for purchase on their website in packs of 6, 12 or 24 for approximately $2.00 a bar.
Kudos to ReGrained for creatively thinking about how to deal with craft breweries expended grains. Should they ever expand their flavors, I'd love to see something on the citrusy side, similar to Blue Moon's Belgian Wheat. I'm sold on the idea that I should "Eat Beer".