• Upcycled Food Association

Reimagining Spent Grain: The Barleymilk Revolution

Oftentimes, when we think or hear about food waste, the intricacies of how deeply rooted the problem really is are often overlooked. Society focuses mainly on the food going bad at grocery stores, in restaurants, and in our own refrigerators. And let’s face it, food waste from these sources is a huge problem! What is talked about far less is the food waste generated in the process of creating many of the things we enjoy in daily life. For example, that beer you had last night at happy hour, have you ever wondered what happens to spent brewers’ grain after it’s used to make beer? Wonder no longer!

Every year, billions of pounds of spent grain from beer brewing go to waste with most being fed to livestock and the rest sadly ending up in landfills, even though spent grain can be upcycled into a delicious, nourishing, everyday food ingredient. During beer production, only the sugars in the grain are used, which leaves the rest of the grain -- including plant protein, fiber, and other nutrients -- completely intact.

It's this barley -- that still has life and nourishment -- that is transformed and upcycled into rejuvenated barley: the delicious, nutrient-rich, low-carbon, plant-based protein source we use to make Take Two Barleymilk.

Image Credit: Take Two Foods

Three years ago, the problem of spent grain waste is what brought our co-founders, Sarah Pool and Matt Olsofsky, together. Their early work on the technology to save the spent grain and turn it into food -- carried out alongside a team of world-class entrepreneurs, food scientists, and sustainability experts -- is what led to the creation of Take Two Foods and our first product to hit grocery stores shelves: Take Two Barleymilk. Our Barleymilk is currently the only plant-based milk using an upcycled ingredient.

Sarah and Matt prioritized alternative milk as the first product in what will someday be an entire line of rejuvenated barley-based products because, from a sustainability standpoint, the opportunity to utilize (reduce) food waste while providing an alternative to industrialized dairy is a powerful combination with high impact potential. By creating delicious, nourishing, functional, and affordable plant-based milk using upcycled spent grain, Take Two is tackling food waste, dependence on animals for food, and greenhouse gas emissions. And by keeping nutrition in the food supply chain longer, we are championing resources and contributing to a circular economy.

Image Credit: Take Two Foods

Not only is Take Two the most sustainable plant-based milk choice, our Barleymilk also raises the bar when it comes to taste, nutrition, and performance in the kitchen. Take Two is available in four delicious flavors -- Original (Unsweetened), Vanilla, Chocolate, and Chef’s Bend -- and contains at least 5g of complete protein per serving, 50% more calcium than traditional dairy, and good fats from sunflower and coconut oils. Plus, it has significantly less sugar than both traditional dairy milk and leading-brand plant-based milks. Take Two’s creamy, smooth, and rich texture makes it the ideal (and healthy) alternative for coffee, smoothies, cooking, and even just casual sipping.

Take Two is more than our name. It’s our purpose: to create second chances for our health and the planet. We give a second life to spent grain because people deserve delicious, nourishing food, and because the planet deserves better too.

You can follow us online at @taketwofoods, and find our Barleymilk at and in retail locations up and down the West Coast.

Author Bios:

Breyn Hibbs: Breyn is devoted to the work of creating vibrant communities filled with possibility and promise. Breyn currently lives in Portland and works as the Head of Sustainability and Field Marketing for Take Two Foods. Her background is in women's health, education, recovery, and leadership; trauma healing through embodiment, breathwork, yoga, and mindfulness; and community building. She is so excited to be contributing her skills to Take Two's work to help catalyze the shift to a sustainable food system and create a plant-rich future.

Melissa Fears: Melissa found her passion early on in storytelling using journalism, PR, social media, photography and marketing to further amplify brands who are dedicated to making a change to better the planet and its communities. She currently resides in Portland and works as the Marketing and Brand Manager for Take Two Foods. After originally starting out her career in journalism she has worked in marketing for the last 8+ years helping sustainable CPG brands and a focus in food and beverage. She looks forward to helping continue spread awareness of Take Two Foods, upcycling and the brand mission to create better food, a better planet and a better future for all.