By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff
With all of the concentration required in order to execute proper disc golf shots (“Am I reaching back far enough? What line am I trying to hit? How’s the footing on this hillside?”), a rumble in the stomach is the last thing anyone needs to worry about.
Have no fear. Bearded Brothers is here.
Started as a simple idea in October 2010 by non-brothers (more on that later) Chris Herbert and Caleb Simpson, Bearded Brothers produces energy bars that are 100 percent organic, vegan, and gluten-free. From its origins in kitchen experimentation to full production that now finds the bars available in 23 states, Herbert said the motivation for building the company was necessity.
“Bearded Brothers was born from two guys wanting to make energy bars that tasted great and had solid nutrition,” he said. “Initially, Caleb and I made our own bars for personal use, as healthy eating was a top priority to both of us. Caleb being an amazing climber, runner and cyclist, and myself being an avid disc golfer, traveler and outdoorsman, we realized how hard it was to find an energy bar that, one, tasted good and, two, wasn’t full of crap.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find one that met both criteria,” Herbert continued. “So we made our own.”
The Austin, Texas-based duo began by creating eight different flavors of their product, which was then pared down to today’s four offerings via a public taste testing party. They also put a great deal of effort into researching the packaging – which features a resealable, newly-compostable wrapper – and, of course, the name of the company.
However, it wasn’t as easy as the moniker would indicate.
“When we first started thinking of names for the company, we weren’t called Bearded Brothers,” Herbert said. “Caleb and I had some ideas for names, but nothing that stuck in people’s minds and differentiated us from the competition. “
When Simpson married Herbert’s wife’s sister in November 2010, though, inspiration finally hit.
“It was our helpful and creative wives who each came up with the idea of ‘Bearded Brothers,’ but on separate instances without talking with each other about it,” Herbert said. “Right then, we knew it was meant to be.”
After dialing in the brand with help from artist Will Bryant, the Brothers launched the product in March 2011 at the famed South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals with four flavors in tow – Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla, Colossal Coconut Mango, Fabulous Ginger Peach, and Mighty Maca Chocolate.
Herbert and Simpson then started to grow the brand by reaching out to athletes in the sports they love, which brought them to disc golf. Herbert started playing back in 2009 and, like many others, he said he was instantly hooked.
“After playing ball golf for 10-plus years, the concept of drivers, mids, and putters to birdie, par, and bogey was easy to grasp,” Herbert said. “I love competition and in recent years have have tended to lean more toward individual sports and challenging myself to beat my own personal bests. And it is no small thing to mention the ease of hopping on a free course and the overall low cost of playing disc golf, which made my bank account – and wife – happy, too.”
As part of Bearded Brothers’ marketing, the company now sponsors professional disc golfers Will Schusterick, Paige Pierce, and Eric McCabe, in addition to sponsoring this year’s MrDiscGolf Tour and other local events.
And while admitting that the price of the bars – a 4-pack costs $13.96 – might not initially appeal to the greater disc golf community that appreciates the low cost of the sport, Herbert said many players have embraced the product.
“Pitching this to the community hasn’t been too tough because the taste has been what gets them hooked, which anyone can appreciate,” Herbert said. “Sometimes the price-point is a little tough to sell to the disc golf crowd, but once you explain the organic ingredients used and their benefits, it becomes worth it for the way it makes them feel versus the effects of the junk-filled and pseudo-healthy snacks. I also think disc golfers love the aspect of the resealable package and the fact that it’s produced from a small business company that loves and supports disc golf.”
Schusterick agreed and said having a healthy alternative on the course is good for his game.
“It’s a pretty big thing to have to be energized out on the course,” he said. “After you’ve played four rounds of golf and you have nine holes left, it’s always good to have something to munch on. With them being gluten-free and sugar-free and all-natural, it’s the good kind of energy. It’s not something that’s like a sugar rush.”
Since he knows the bars can be used on the course by players, Herbert always keeps some on hand when he goes out for his twice-weekly rounds.
“If you play a round of disc golf with me, I usually give out bars within the group, or if I witness an ace on the course, I’ll give that player a bar too,” Herbert said. “I have also been known to give a bar or two to groups who let me play through. To me, it’s all about grassroots marketing and getting the product into the hands of people.”
And those people have spoken in terms of the company’s most popular offering, as the Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla outsells all other flavors two to one, Herbert said.
Schusterick pegged the Colossal Coconut Mango as his flavor of choice, and also said he has received positive reviews from those he has shared the bars with.
“I think people love them,” Schusterick said. “If you’re a fan of all-natural type stuff, it’s definitely the thing to try.”
And while Bearded Brothers has made a name for itself with these energy bars, Herbert said there is more in store for the company’s future, including other kinds of healthy snacks.
It’s all a part of bringing more nutritious options to the masses.
“I think people are becoming more aware of how much food affects their abilities on the course, in training, and in everyday life,” Herbert said. “Food is fuel and should be respected and treated with the utmost importance.”
Video about Bearded Brothers:
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.