Hyper-Local Partnerships: Whole Foods Breaks Bread With Funky Buddha Brewery

David McAndrew started baking in England, where he’s originally from, at 16 years old. Three years later, at the age of 19, he moved to the U.S. Now, he is the facility team leader at Whole Foods Market Bakehouse.

“I started with a company that Whole Foods Market acquired, then moved to Florida and took over running their bakehouse” says McAndrew.

The bakehouse McAndrew speaks of produces products — breads, croissants, danish, muffin batters, cookies, and cake blanks — for the 24 Whole Foods stores in Florida. But McAndrew was itching to make a specialty bread product that required one ingredient out of reach.

“I’ve been wanting to make a Spent Grain Sourdough for a few years, but never had the right facility to do it,” says McAndrew.

Spent grain sourdough is made with spent beer grains, a byproduct of the brewing process that usually gets discarded. “So once we moved into our new baking facility, I contacted John [Linn, brand director] at Funky Buddha Brewery to discuss their spent grain and collaborate in making a bread together.”

John agreed, and McAndrew started working on the formula.

“We brought him by the brewery and kind of showed him our process and how we were doing everything, and thought it would be a good idea to try out making this…sourdough bread with spent grain from our Floridian hefeweizen,” says Linn.

Funky Buddha’s Floridian Hefeweizen is the brewery’s best-selling beer, and accounts for about 50 percent of the beer made, Linn says. “We make it all the time, so we have a lot of the grain available, and it also does really well in Whole Foods Market.”

The timing was perfect.

“We’ve been talking with Whole Foods about ways to collaborate and work closer together on a number of levels, so this just seemed like a great fit for us,” says Linn.

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Spent grain from Funky Buddha Brewery

Spent grain from Funky Buddha Brewery

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Spent grain sourdough fresh out of the oven

Spent grain sourdough fresh out of the oven

Funky Buddha has done a lot of collaborations with restaurants and establishments that carry their beer. “We do them when they feel right and organic,” he says. “And being that Whole Foods has this amazing bakehouse facility, which is right down the road from the brewery, it feels hyper-local to us, even though it’s a national chain.”

Outside of Whole Foods, the spent grain sourdough can be found in Funky Buddha’s own facility, as well. The brewery recently expanded beyond its production facility and taproom, and added in its own kitchen, bringing in Chef Jeff Vincent of Fort Lauderdale’s The Atlantic Hotel & Spa.

“We always had food trucks out of the brewery, but we never had any of our own,” says Linn of the food offerings.

Now, guests can order food from Funky Buddha’s Craft Food Counter & Kitchen, which opened on November 11th, 2015, including a beer cheese soup, which comes in a Floridian spent grain sourdough bread bowl.

So, how are customers taking to the new product offering?

“Customer feedback on the bread has been great,” says McAndrew. “We’ve got emails from customers saying how much they love it. Funky Buddha has got a lot of positive feedback on the bread. They have almost a cult following that loves their beer and now is loving the bread, too.”

To get more specific on the sentiment, Whole Foods Market sold about 10,000 loaves of the spent grain sourdough bread in six weeks. It’s currently only sold in the state of Florida but plans for expansion will be considered depending on demand in other markets, says McAndrew.

In this “On Foodable Side Dish” episode, McAndrew takes viewers inside the bakehouse’s bread mixing room, where all of the bread production for Whole Foods Market takes place. From adding in the ingredients to each step in the bread-making process, get an up-close look at the production process of Whole Foods’ Funky Buddha Spent Grain Sourdough.