It all started when…
Going with OURgrain is a concept and a business started by a group of ambitious Johnson & Wales University students studying Culinary Nutrition & Food Science. The concept was presented initially at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) National 2017 Stir-it-Up Conference. During the conference, the team competed in the inaugural "Evolution of Food Waste Competition." The competition dictated a need to identify an industry waste byproduct, and then transform it into marketable food products. Each team prepared a written proposal to submit to the Research Chefs Association. The top three student groups were selected as finalists and prepared a 10-minute presentation followed by a Q&A, as well as a product tasting at the competition site. After heavy consideration, the group decided to use Brewers' Spent Grain (BSG).
BSG is a byproduct resulting from the beer brewing process. The beer crafting process begins with wheat, barley, and malt that are crushed and simmered into a mash. The water added at this time serves to extract sugar and carbs from the grain. The mash is then drained, and the remaining liquid is flavored and fermented. Successful brewing results in highly specialized flavors and a myriad of beer varieties from which to choose. You might be asking yourself, what happens to the grain strained out from the mash? Currently, the grain left in the mash tubs is either thrown away or sent out to feed livestock. The beer industry is so vast that it produces an enormous volume of BSG. For some perspective, Texas alone produced 50.8 million pounds of BSG in 2014.
As a team, we decided to fill the need for a solution and create a use for this product. Thus, the team was born. Through meticulous research, the team found that BSG provides a host of nutritional benefits. For example, it serves as added fiber or protein to any product in which it is used. Additionally, in the first phases of product testing, we discovered that the grain maintains the flavor of the brew, giving the products a mild yet unique aroma of wheat and malt. Enhanced flavor coupled with potential nutritive benefits inspired the concept of OURgrain - to take the grain from mash tubs and re-introduce it into different kinds of baked products.
The first product tested was the Hazelnut Doppio Scone (001). This delectable pastry was designed for early-rising and hard-working student, as well as anyone perpetually on the go looking for a convenient breakfast. This scone is packed with flavor, incorporating hazelnuts, espresso, an undertone of vanilla, and Brewers Spent Grain. These ingredients are packed with protein and fiber to maximize satiety while maintaining the delicious flavor of a sweet morning pastry.
After submitting a lengthy 20-page proposal, including market research, scale-up to 10,000 units and vigorous product optimization on the scone, we were invited by the RCA to compete in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The team rallied and chittered with excitement, but much to our dismay, an intense March snowstorm put a damper on our moods and our travel plans. This all too common occurrence in New England winters meant we had to book and rebook our flights mere hours before take off. Despite all odds, we beat the blizzard, and on three separate plans the team made it to San Juan where we presented the Hazelnut Doppio Scone and Brewers' Spent Grain concept to a panel of RCA judges and interested convention attendees. Through our strong presentation and excellent product, we took first place in the competition, with accolades on the versatility and exceptional taste that the BSG infused within our product.
At the end of that school year the team reconvened, with a few extra heads. We somehow had to discern a way to turn a poster and 10-minute presentation into a real-life business, dedicated to sustainability and delicious, healthful products.
Today, Going with OURgrain aims to help breweries utilize their BSG in ways that benefit their operation, the consumer, and the world around all of us. We have been working with breweries to develop products that they will sell out of their taprooms or storefronts, including chips, cookies, pretzels, breadsticks and much more. Currently, we are producing OURgrain's products out of the Hope and Main incubator kitchen in Warren, R.I.
This creative and ambitious team has big plans for the success of OURgrain and its continued growth. Look out for products near you!
against the other grain
What makes going with our grain a unique company is our ability to successfully and creatively use spent grain as an ingredient. As trained chefs, we are able to transform a nutritious, protein and fiber-packed energy source into a delicious staple that is useful in hundreds of recipes.