BOERNE, Texas -- A local startup aimed at combating food waste is finding a niche in the Alamo City. Thanks to a unique partnership between a microbrewery and the startup company Grain4Grain, by-product made from beer is now being revamped into a kitchen staple.
- Patent-pending technology converts spent grain into flour
- Revamping the way by-product is put to use
- By-product does not contain alcohol
"Converting this spent grain into food for people is - just for me - it’s a higher use of it," said Jason Davis of Freetail Brewing. "Instead of sending it out to the farm where it’s going to be eaten by the hundreds of pounds by animals, and converted into a mere few pounds of food for people, it’s a more effective use of it."
Freetail Brewery is giving its beer by-product new life thanks to a local startup based out of Boerne. Inside the white walled food laboratory, patent-pending technology converts spent grain into flour and pancake mix.
"It’s basically really wet barely with all the carbs taken out. All that’s left is protein and fiber," said Yoni Medhin, co-founder of Grain4Grain. "We came up with a way to dry that and turn it to flour."
The idea first came about in 2016 when Medhin and his co-founder Matt Mechtly both left their jobs as petroleum engineers to venture into a new, but potentially lucrative, business upstart.
"It was that innovation that really set the step forward for us," said Medhin.
In October 2019, Grain4Grain found itself moving full steam ahead once a partnership developed between the small business and H-E-B.
"We’re able to mass produce spent grain at a scale that’s never been seen in North America," said Medhin.
For Freetail Brewery, this unique business partnership is the start of tradition in the making.
"I think the most exciting thing for us was that it was giving back to the community, and that it was 100 percent recycled product," said Tracey Bellavance of Freetail Brewery. "We weren’t having any waste."
Starting with barely, this new technology of revamping the way by-product is put to use, is transforming minds and bellies at store shelves.
"There’s a lot of waste and companies that are tackling waste, but what if they could dry it, turn it to a flour and then that flour has a lot more shelf stability," said Medhin. "You can now enable people to live healthier lives for decades. So that’s what we’re trying to think of. How do we use our tech and reposition ourselves to dry and up-cycle a variety of goods?"
And for those of you wondering, no, there's not any alcohol in the flour or pancake mix.