In an effort to find a different use for spent grain — a byproduct of the beer brewing process – Anheuser-Busch InBev, via its ZX Ventures ‘global disruptive growth group,’ has backed a non-alcoholic beverage startup hoping to turn leftover malt into a drinkable product.
For years, brewers around the world have sold or donated their spent grain to farmers for use as animal feed. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which produces a majority of its beer products at 12 large-scale U.S. breweries, has, over the last century, repurposed its spent grains by selling it to farms across the country.
Now A-B, the world’s largest beer company, is hoping that a proprietary fermentation process, developed internally, can transform at least some of the nearly 8 billion pounds of spent grain produced across the beer industry each year into an isolate that will be used in a new line of plant-based barley beverages called “Canvas.”
In an interview with Brewbound, Canvas co-founder and CEO Sarah Pool said the process A-B has developed will enable Canvas to refine leftover protein and fiber, and upcycle spent grain into “saved grain,” as the company is calling it.
Pool described the product, which is set to hit the market this fall and will retail for $4.99 per bottle, as “holistic, all-encompassing nourishment” with a strong sustainability message.
“The idea of Canvas is simple, but powerful – it’s about finding the good in everything, and that often it’s the things that are cast aside that can have the biggest impact,” Pool said via a press release.
According to the company’s website, the products will contain as much as 13 grams of dietary fiber and 10 grams of protein per 12 oz. bottle. Approximately 50 percent of the product is made using spent grain isolate, and it is blended with cashew milk, coconut milk and ingredients such as chicory root, chai spice, cocoa powder and sea salt to provide flavor.
“We’ve been working obsessively to create the most nourishing, tasty, and convenient plant-based beverage we’ve ever tried,” Pool said via the release. “The beverage is a new frontier in sustainable nourishment, and we could not be more excited to introduce it to our growing community.”
Canvas beverages are pasteurized, require refrigeration and will have a 90-day shelf life, Pool added.
To get the product into retailers’ hands, Pool said she will look to leverage A-B’s network of beer distributors in certain U.S. markets, adding that a lack of “infinite cold chain capabilities” would require the company to sign distribution agreements with various natural products wholesalers.
“We are excited to get it out there and do it with the right partners,” she said. “We are going to have to go outside of A-B’s distribution in certain ways, but they are also our biggest partner.”
To generate “awareness and energy” for the new product, Canvas launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on August 1 that has already secured more than $40,000 from 378 backers. The company had an initial goal of raising $25,000, which Pool said would support an initial production run.
After the company secures its first retail placements, Canvas will be “looking at a much bigger scale in 2018,” Pool told Brewbound.
Editor’s note: Additional information about the ZX-backed Canvas beverage is available on BevNET.com, Brewbound’s sister website. BevNET assistant editor Martín Caballero contributed to this report.