Will Barley Milk Be the Next Big Non-Dairy Bev?

If you’ve always wanted the okay to drink beer for breakfast, this may be the next best thing. Coors has begun using the same barley it uses in its beer to create a plant-based milk. Is it alcoholic? No. Is it a super cool sustainable alternative to just dumping spent grain and drinking dairy milk instead? Sure seems that way. 

The milk is called Golden Wing, and it’s available in stores now. So what exactly is Golden Wing made of? It’s a lot like most non-dairy milks, which are made by taking the thing that goes before the “milk” in the name (almond, oat, soy, etc.) and soaking it in water for a while before either squeezing it to get all the milk out or grinding it then squeezing it to get all the milk out. The company has said that in addition to barley and water, Golden Wing also contains sunflower oil, pink Himalayan salt, and shiitake mushroom extract, all of which supposedly combine to give the milk “a malty sweetness reminiscent of milk leftover in a bowl of cereal […] without being overly sweet or astringent.” Interesting. Now I really want to try this. Mushrooms? In milk? Sounds kind of gross, but is it really? Is it any grosser than milk coming out of a cow boob? This addition of mushroom reminds me of NotMilk, which uses pineapple and cabbage to achieve a milk-like flavor and somehow ended up tasting like milk with a hint of piña colada and zero detectable hints of cabbage. These fake milk development people truly do think of the darndest things.

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Golden Wing also purports to have “60% less sugar, 50% more calcium and twice as much Vitamin D” than 2% milk, making it both healthy and sustainable. The company thinks that this barley milk could be the future of plant-based milk, but just to play it safe, they are releasing it gradually to make sure people will actually drink the stuff. In the spirit of the gradual rollout, Golden Wing can only be found in Sprouts grocery stores in California, as well as Whole Foods locations in SoCal as of right now.

If I had a Sprouts nearby, I would definitely pick up a bottle of this and give it a try. I see it as kind of a fun game to test out different fake milks (the Sporked team has put oat and almond milks through the tasting gauntlet) and see which ones are good and which ones have wacky characteristics that don’t necessarily make them bad, but definitely differentiate them from the real deal. I’m excited find out if there’s a huge difference between barley milk and regular milk—or if the difference is barley noticeable.

About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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