Here's a Brand-New Meaning for Steak and Brew! Fred Grant Says His Beer-Fed Beef Is Best, Bar None!
Beer? Right, beer. Fred's 1,800 steers knock back 30,000 gallons of suds a year—and not just any suds, but Heineken and Budweiser. "I will tell you they drink draft, but I won't tell you how much they drink or when they get it," warns Fred, who fears meat-industry spies. And well he might. At a time when U.S. beef consumption has dropped in six years from 68.4 pounds per person to 56.1 pounds, Grant's marble-and-glass Brae Beef butcher shop is thriving in the swank Stamford, Conn. Town Center. In this the first year of operation, Grant's beeftique anticipates $5 million in sales (his tenderloin costs $16.45 a pound). Brae Beef is, in fact, lean, juicy and tender. His credo: "We believe in feeding cattle untainted food to get untainted meat."
Born and raised in Stamford, Fred, 43, was first smitten by bovines while visiting his grandfather's farm in northern Michigan. Nevertheless, he grew up to be a banker in Manhattan until, in 1976, he traded his gray flannel for overalls and returned with co-partner wife Anne to childish things. A massage instructor had put him on a chemical-free diet, and he thought to do the same for livestock, applying what little he could glean of the Japanese Kobe method of cattle raising. "The Japanese won't tell you a thing—if anything, they'll mislead you—but I knew the Kobe beef were fed beer," he says. "I started by force-feeding them from a bottle. We lost some cattle experimenting with just the right amount." The cattle are no longer force-fed but Grant won't reveal how they get their malt. "Let's just say that cattle don't take naturally to beer. It's an acquired taste," he says. He also claims his customers have experienced some striking, beef-induced cures: "One woman had terrible rashes. And she started eating Brae Beef. After a few weeks she said, 'Wow! No more rash! I don't need my vitamins today!' She now has a shell steak a day instead." Another round, beeftender!