One of St. Petersburg’s largest craft breweries is feeding the hungry by getting double-duty out of a byproduct of its brewing process.
3 Daughters Brewing is working with the Food Bank at St. Pete Free Clinic on the initiative, which involves recycling the grain used to make beer, said 3 Daughters co-owner Leigh Harting.
“It’s long been a goal of ours to use that grain to give back to the community,” Harting said. “This is a great way of giving back.”
Brewing beer requires four ingredients: water, yeast, multigrains and hops.
“We run the water over the grain, to take the sugar out of the grain, and that becomes alcohol,” she said. “We had the grains that went through the brewing process tested at University of Florida and there’s still enough protein in the grains to use them for cattle feed. We sell the used grains to farmers and the money we get from that is all donated to St. Pete Free Clinic.”
For the last several months, checks have been showing up that represent the sale of grain by 3 Daughters, said Beth Houghton, executive director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.
“It’s not a one-time thing but a near annuity that they’ve created,” Houghton said.
The Free Clinic Food Bank gets a lot of its stock from in-kind donations, coming from big companies such as Publix and Walmart, as well as from individual farmers and truckers and items given in food drives.
“But there are certain categories of foods we couldn’t get any other way, that are really high nutrition and are what our clients want and can use, such as eggs, milk and cheese,” Houghton said. “That’s one example where we would write a check for food that hits all the buttons.”
The food bank also will spend cash to buy a truckload of produce.
“A couple months worth of spent grain can buy us a truckload of produce,” Houghton said.
Within the last couple of months, 3 Daughters added a new dimension to its collaboration to with the Free Clinic. Leigh and Mike Harting, her husband and 3 Daughters co-owner, are both veterans of the restaurant industry, so they tapped their connections at US Foods (NYSE: USFD), one of the country’s largest food distributors, to sell products to the Food Bank at cost.
The Free Clinic Food Bank is the largest emergency food distributor in Pinellas County. It distributes food free of charge to 65 partner agencies, including food pantries, shelters, community kitchens and child care programs.
The Hartings have helped the St. Petersburg Free Clinic in several ways over the years, including in-kind donations and financial contributions, and Mike Harting now sits on the organization’s board of directors, Houghton said.
“In the time he’s been here, we’ve gone from 3.5 million pounds of food to 7.6 million pounds of food recovered from Publix and Walmart and farmers and truckers with produce. That’s been made possible by many donors, and Mike has been part of that strategic discussion on our board,” Houghton said.
“We do plenty of other charity work, but being able to use a byproduct of something we manufacture and take the proceeds and feed the community — I find that super cool,” Leigh Harting said. “It checks all the boxes: sustainability, giving back to the community and reducing waste.”
3 Daughters Brewing, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in December, is the largest brewery in St. Petersburg and second-largest in the Tampa Bay area, behind Cigar City Brewing, according to Tampa Bay Business Journal research.
3 Daughters made the Inc. 5000 list for the first time in 2018, placing No. 1,934 with $4.5 million in 2017 revenue, and 232 percent revenue growth over three years.