Thanks to Larissa Zimberoff for this:
For some people, beer is the perfect end to a workday. For Bertha Jimenez, it’s the start of a new way to eliminate food waste.
Breweries throw out millions of pounds of used grain every day that could have other uses. While some is repurposed as animal feed, compostable products or heating fuel, little has been exploited for its value as food.
But Ms. Jimenez, 35, has created a small start-up, Rise Products, that converts the grain into a flour that is finding its way into sustainable bakeries and kitchens in New York and as far away as Italy.
The potential for recycling beer waste first came into the cross hairs of Ms. Jimenez, an immigrant from Ecuador, while she was working toward her doctorate in 2015 at the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University. Intent on finding ways to reduce industrial waste, she started a side project with like-minded friends — most of them also immigrants — and craft beer provided an easy target: Everyone loved it, but it had issues.
Ms. Jimenez lives in Brooklyn, which at last count had 20 craft breweries that are tossing out grain. Ms. Jimenez and Ashwin Gopi, a classmate and a founder of Rise, began asking around for samples so they could figure out how best to reuse them.
Mr. Gopi called Jeff Lyons, who was then the brewer at Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. “They told me they were trying to reduce waste,” said Mr. Lyons, who quickly agreed to supply some grain — three Tupperware containers’ worth, all the students could carry. “The grain still has nutritional value, and all we were doing was throwing it out.”
Brewing relies on grains, typically malted barley, which are first soaked in hot water. This step releases sugars that are crucial to the later production of alcohol. Once those sugars are released into the liquid, the grain is discarded.
Knowing that barley was healthful, Mr. Gopi, Ms. Jimenez and a third founder, Jessica Aguirre, nibbled it plain. Spent grains look and taste like brown rice, without the heft. They stirred the stuff into porridge, and baked it into cookies and cakes. But when they took the dried grain to bakers to gauge their interest, they were met with shrugs.
Finally, Peter Endriss, an owner of the Brooklyn bakery Runner & Stone, suggested they make flour. “It seemed like such a logical repurposing of spent beer grains,” he said.
Today, the Rise Products team makes its flour in a commercial kitchen in Long Island City, Queens. The grains are dried in an oven, then ground, milled and sifted into a fine flour — all by hand, which is why it costs $8 a pound wholesale, and $16 retail. The price will drop, the partners say, when they raise more money, move to a bigger space and automate the process.
But because of the growing interest in reducing waste, many chefs and bakers are already eager to work with what the team is calling its “Super Flour.”…
Read the whole article here.