Mighty Squirrel Is Making Beer with Five Grams of Protein Per Bottle

The startup started selling its products in June.

Mighty Squirrel

Mighty Squirrel’s beer and taps. Photo provided to bostonmagazine.com

Step away from the protein powder, and grab a…beer?

Like many entrepreneurs before them, Henry Manice and Naveen Pawar, then both product managers at a spinal implant company, got their big idea over a couple beers. The two were getting their usual post-tennis drinks in 2010 when they came up with the concept of a great tasting beer with more protein.

“We didn’t talk about our idea to anyone except pretty much our parents for a year and a half,” Manice says. The two began using the code word “squirrel” for “protein” so they could talk about their idea in public, and the name stuck.

Five years, a $15 home brewing kit, and many late nights later, Mighty Squirrel beer hit the market in June. And though each bottle contains five grams of protein, the founders are still focused on the beer. “For us, the beer is, first and foremost, a flavorful and refreshing drink,” Manice says.

Mighty Squirrel is especially unique given that many brewers actively try to remove protein—found naturally in barley—from their brews, since it can make beer smell, taste, and look unappealing. “If you’re from the beer industry, [protein is] like, the devil of beer,” Manice says. “You’re always removing them.”

The duo found a way to make it work with the help of other brewing experts. “We found a way to remove the natural protein, and added hydrolyzed whey back to the beer,” Manice explains. The final recipe contains German lager yeast, Magnum and Hallertau hops, and malted barley, and is free of rice, corn, enzymes, and sugars.

As of now, Mighty Squirrel comes in two varieties, Mighty Squirrel Light, and Mighty Squirrel Original, which are available at Quality Mart on Massachusetts Avenue, Wine Emporium on Tremont Street, and Miracle of Science in Cambridge. The beers, which are produced at Von Trapp Brewery in Vermont, are comparable in calories to classics like Budweiser and Sam Adams, but far exceed their one and two grams of protein, respectively.

In addition to developing its token product, Mighty Squirrel is organizing 5K “pub runs” around the city, with a new location each week. Manice says that the company is also using the market’s first beer tap that is printed with nutritional information.

“Beer, traditionally, hasn’t been that transparent about nutrition facts,” Manice says. “So a lot of people are really excited about this.”