With a successful Kickstarter campaign underway, Canvas plans to turn beer waste into a healthy, non-alcoholic beverage.

Mike Pomranz
August 30, 2017

If you've ever made your own beer, the idea of drinking the leftovers from the brewing process probably sounds pretty unappealing. (Actually, it probably sounds pretty unappealing even if you know nothing about brewing.) However, in an effort to reduce waste, innovative thinkers have been finding ways to turn these "spent grains"—essentially the parts of barley that aren't used in fermentation—into something useful. That's included everything from nutrients for yeast to snacks for humans. And now, a successful Kickstarter campaign plans to turn this beer byproduct into a drink all its own: barley milk.

Canvas Barley Milk bills itself as "the first sustainable, plant-based beverage made from 'Saved Grain'" with a dream "to bring better nutrition to everyone." By combining "spent grain isolate" with other ingredients, Canvas promises to offer a beverage with "balanced nourishment for a health-conscious lifestyle," including "dietary fiber, complete plant protein and medium-chain fatty acids," all with no dairy, no refined sugars and no artificial ingredients (and just so there's no confusion, no alcohol). The final plant-based milk product comes in five flavors: Original, Cocoa, Cold Brew Latte, Matcha, and Turmeric Chai. But all this isn't to say the brand isn't serious about reducing waste: According to co-founder Sarah Pool, around half of each bottle is made from spent grain.

The idea of turning these spent grains, which the brewing industry creates by the billions globally every year, into some sort of super beverage is certainly intriguing, and the Kickstarter community has responded. With just a couple days left to go in their campaign, the team behind Canvas has already nearly doubled their goal of $25,000 with the support of over 450 backers. Through the crowdfunding site, a case of the beverage can currently be bought for $39—or $3.25 per 12-ounce bottle (at savings Canvas says will be 45 percent off the suggested retail price). However, if you'd rather pay retail prices, Pool says Canvas will hopefully be on shelves soon. "We are launching in select retail outlets in 2017 as we continue to ramp up the spent grain processing technology, with expansion into major national retailers in 2018," she told Food & Wine via email.

And Kickstarter success aside, Canvas has other big time support as well. The independent start-up is backed by ZX Ventures, the incubator and investment arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev. That partnership has given the barley milk brand some very helpful resources. "We've worked with AB's food scientists and engineers to develop a proprietary process for saving spent grain, and are currently utilizing spent grain from AB's breweries to make Canvas," Pool told us. As America's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch certainly produces plenty of spent grains; it's certainly cool to think they could start going to more innovative uses.