Molson Coors Enters the Barley Milk Race with Golden Wing

The beer giant joins AB InBev and others in turning grain into wholesome plant milk

Photo: Courtesy Golden Wing

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UPDATE: MAY 11, 2022 – Molson Coors, one of the largest beer brewing companies on the planet, is getting into milk. While milk might seem like a wholesome pivot for a brand you might have last seen at a frat party or rowdy hockey game, they’re not the only beer brand to add plant milk to their product line. Last year, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced it, too, was getting into making barley milk from spent brewing grain.

Where AB InBev’s presence on store shelves right now is mostly in the form of their investment in start-up Take Two, Molson Coors has got the route of launching their own in-house barley milk brand, Golden Wing. Unlike Take Two’s product, which upcycles spent grain after the brewing process, Golden Wing uses new grains sourced specifically for the product.

Golden Wing is launching this month in Sprouts and Whole Foods ‘dairy’ cases across the country and available for direct order online. The milk touts a short ingredient list – water, barley, malt, sunflower extract, calcium carbonate, salt, and shiitake mushroom extract – and a statement from the company describes it as having a “a malty sweetness reminiscent of milk leftover in a bowl of cereal.”

DECEMBER 13, 2021 – Anheuser-Busch InBev – the beverage conglomerate that owns brands including Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Goose Island, Golden Road, Peroni, and dozens of others – is considered the largest brewing company in the world. Which means they’ve got a lot of spent gain on their hands – and a whole lot of knowledge about fermentation. At a recent investor meeting, AB InBev execs announced plans to put those resources to use, developing plant-based protein products for a variety of applications

As Food & Wine reports, the corporation has been working with and funding a startup called EverGrain which purports to have “developed the technology to extract proteins and fibers from our saved grains, and create nutritionally rich ingredients.” EverGrain has already started selling those ingredients for use by other companies in protein shakes, barley milk, and other products, and expects to expand dramatically with the opening of a new, dedicated processing facility in March of 2022.

Looking further into the future, AB InBev’s internal business incubator program, ZX Ventures, is also backing a company called BioBrew which – while currently “still in exploratory spaces” – has designs to use biotech and fermentation knowledge and infrastructure from the brewing giant to create new protein products to serve global demand.

“You can ferment any type of protein. So we started more milk-related products, but, you know, the opportunities are huge,” ZX Ventures head Bernardo Novick told investors. “The application of biotechnology to food and beverage is expected to be a massive opportunity in the next 10 to 20 years. And the market for alternative fermented protein alone is estimated to reach $22 billion by 2035.”

While the corporation’s immediate focus is on profit, CEO Michel Doukeris attempted to also position the plant-protein initiatives in a context of social responsibility, noting that he sees “an opportunity to combine our brewing infrastructure and expertise with biotech advancements to help address increasing global food and sustainability challenges.”

RELATED: An Oregon Startup Is Turning Brewery Waste Into Plant-Based Milk

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