There's a New Plant-Based Milk In Town and It Comes From... Coors?

It's probably better than pouring beer on your cereal.

Golden Wing Barley Milk
Photo: Courtesy of Molson Coors

Though non-dairy alternatives like soy milk have been around for quite some time, the mainstream growth of plant-based eating has also aided a plant-based milk boom. Starbucks offers four non-dairy alternatives to milk; Dunkin' now has three. And brands like Oatly have seen their profile grow significantly. Meanwhile, part of the excitement around plant-based everything is the touted environmental benefits as companies look to improve their sustainability.

At the junction of these movements is plant-based barley milk. For years, breweries have known about the option of turning their used barley — a.k.a. "spent grains" — into non-dairy milk. And now, the idea is picking up steam. Last year, Budweiser producer AB InBev discussed the potential of using barley waste to make, among other things, a milk alternative. And now, Coors Light and Miller Lite maker Molson Coors has brought a barley milk to market.

Golden Wing Barley Milk — which beyond being available on the brand's website is also rolling out at Sprouts locations in California and Whole Foods stores in Southern California — is "a non-alcohol plant-based milk that will sit in the dairy aisle." And as for flavor, Molson Coors describes Golden Wing — which is made only from water, barley, sunflower oil, pink Himalayan salt, and shiitake mushroom extract — as offering "a malty sweetness reminiscent of milk leftover in a bowl of cereal," resulting in a taste that is "natural without being overly sweet or astringent."

"The plant-based milk category is growing rapidly, and it's largely fueled by innovation," Brian Schmidt, marketing manager for non-alcohol products at Molson Coors, said in a company blog post. "We know beer, and because of that we know barley… With our background and expertise, we believe this will be the next major evolution in the plant-based milk category."

The brand also boasts that, compared to two-percent milk, Golden Wing has 60 percent less sugar, 50 percent more calcium, and twice as much Vitamin D at a similar level of calories.

"Golden Wing drinkers are consumers who care about what they put into their bodies," Schmidt continued. They care enough about the planet to know dairy's harmful impact, and they're confident enough to know what they want to drink."

However, despite all the positive marketing talk, Molson Coors says they are taking a "phased rollout approach" with the brand to make sure interest exists. Even Schmidt admitted it wasn't a slam dunk, but explained that, "Early feedback from retailers and consumers shows that Golden Wing has strong potential."

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