It is a commonly held truth that beer is good. But what is less known is that the process of making beer uses a tremendous amount of resources. Two breweries opened somewhere in the U.S. yesterday, two more opened today, and two more will join them tomorrow. Yes, as many of us beer lovers know well by now, the craft brewing industry is booming. The problem, however, is that as the industry balloons, so too does its ecological footprint. The good news? This growing ecological footprint is enabling a huge opportunity to create a new source of nutrition and dramatically reduce food waste.
The fact is that our favorite food group (beer) and its historical paradigm is changing. It used to be that brewers would partner with farmers who would feed the grain to livestock or compost it. But, as more and more breweries migrate from rural areas into the heart of our cities, that brewer-farmer relationship is becoming less and less feasible. The result: hundreds of thousands of tons of healthy, edible beer grain is being thrown out each week across the U.S. On average, each microbrewery throws out about 2,000-3,000 lbs of edible beer grain each week. This “spent” grain is the end of an entire agricultural supply chain and is a “waste” product that each brewery must dispose of.
Here’s where ReGrained comes in: ReGrained partners with urban craft breweries to harvest their grain byproducts and transform them into delicious, value-added products. The company has already started in San Francisco by taking would-be-waste and making healthy snack bars. But, in order to address the problem at scale and to unlock all the latent nutrition going to waste, ReGrained is here to tap the OpenIDEO community’s help.
ReGrained has aspirations beyond the bar. It needs this community’s help co-creating strategies that help build consumer awareness and bring this dark horse byproduct—”spent” beer grain—to the kitchen cabinets of the world. From waste to superfood.
One idea the company could use help developing during the research and inspiration phase is a versatile milled version of the ingredient. This “Beer Flour” (working title) would enable the company to address beer’s waste problem at scale by introducing a novel, beneficial ingredient to be used in anything, from tortilla chips to pancakes. The challenge is that the craft brewing landscape and its supply chains are fragmented. That’s where you all come in.