When we started homebrewing beer as underage students at UCLA, we certainly did not predict it would lead to this.
Developing an obsession with the hobby would have been fairly easy to forecast:
1) We only had access to beer at parties, and that stuff didn’t taste so great.
2) Craft beer was interesting and exciting, but alas, we could not buy it.
3) We could simply buy everything needed to make delicious beer ourselves.
Here’s what caught us by surprise: with every batch of beer made, we were left with a crazy amount of “used” grain! We were only making 5 gallons of beer at a time, less than one the volume of a standard keg, but each brew day produced approximately cafeteria sized batch of oatmeal. We understood that the sugar from the grain was somehow being turned into fresh barleypop, but what about the grain? What the heck were we supposed to do with that stuff?? And there was a lot of it!!
We didn’t have a compost bin, let alone any farm animals to feed out back of our frathouse homebrewery. So, week after week, vats of oatmeal were tipped into the dumpster. The soaked malts smelled edible, reminiscent of bread, and as most homebrewers eventually discover, they were tasty too. An idea struck. Sure, we didn’t have farm animals, but we had plenty of the next best thing: hungry party animals.
So, we set out to bake a sort-of whole grain bread using the leftover grain. Surely, we thought, our friends would buy a few, and if we sold enough, next week we could brew for free. We could become the cure for cases of the common drunchies.
After a few months of baking a dozen or so loaves of bread per week between beer making (with some studying in between), a few things became apparent:1) People loved our idea. We even developed a contingent of regulars.
So, we decided to make a go at a broader business model. ReGrained would not just be a bakery, but more of a go-between the brewing industry and local food systems. It would be both a service provider and a manufacturer. Eventually, we would upcycle all of the grain from every urban brewery in the world!
First, we decided, we should start with a product. We liked the bread, but baking it was time consuming, labor intensive, and the shelf-life was short. We needed something more practical.
We put our heads (and appetites) together. Jordan’s crowded apartment kitchen became our startup’s “garage,” and we developed an evolving recipe of small batch granola bars. Like with the bread, we distributed these bars to a community of friends in order to get feedback and funnel each modest sale into the next round of ingredients. Batch after batch we baked until we had something that we believed could have some legs. We believed in our idea, and that if we kept at it, we could turn it into something meaningful.
ReGrained has since become a full-time pursuit, and we couldn’t be more excited. We are hard at work every day earnestly growing our bar line, as well as developing other applications for ReGrained grain. We appreciate how far we have been able to take the company from our cramped UCLA kitchen, but the best is truly yet to come. Cheers to you for being here with us, we literally cannot do this without your support.