When it came to launching our first dairy free nitro cold brew, here at RISE Brewing Co. we spent a long time deciding which alternative milk to use. We tried a huge selection of non-dairy milks, from soy to sesame to almond and cashew.
Once we tried oat milk, however, the choice became an easy one. Oat milk’s creaminess and natural sweetness made it the perfect addition to our nitro cold brew coffee. Now we use organic oat milk in a variety of our nitro cold brew beverages, and we love it so much we decided to sell it by the carton as well.
Here, we will answer a few questions about this delicious milk, including its health and sustainability credentials, how it compares to other alternative milks, and why it works so well with our nitro cold brews.
What is oat milk?
Let’s start at the beginning. Oat milk is a dairy-free plant milk derived from oats, produced by extracting the plant material with water. The oats, either rolled or steel-cut, are soaked, blended and then strained to separate the oats from the milk. This can be done at home with a cheesecloth, or in commercial facilities where oat milk is produced in huge quantities to satisfy the overwhelming consumer demand.
Unlike some alternative milks, which date back hundreds of years, oat milk is a relatively new phenomenon. It was invented in Sweden in the 1990s and has slowly gained popularity over the past three decades. It is only in the past few years, however, that oat milk’s popularity has really exploded. A worldwide market estimated at $1.6 billion in 2018 is forecast to reach $41 billion by 2025. This is because more people are looking to oat milk to replace dairy with a healthy and sustainable alternative.
Is your oat milk organic?
Yes! All the oat milk we use is certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture. This means that it is grown to exacting standards, including the promotion of ecological balance; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.
Is oat milk healthy?
Oat milk boasts many health benefits. Oat milk has fewer calories than cow’s milk or soy milk, and because it is naturally sweet it needs less sugar added than other alternative milks. Oat milk also contains plenty of vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and double the fiber of cow’s milk. Oat milk also doesn’t contain any saturated fats or cholesterol, and is a low sodium food.
Of course the way oat milk is processed, and whether and how much it is fortified, will make a big difference in its nutritional makeup. At RISE Brewing Co., our oat milk contains just four ingredients: organic oats, organic sunflowers, water and salt. No added gums or binders, just goodness.
Is oat milk vegan?
Why yes! In fact, oat milk’s vegan cred is one of the main reasons for its recent huge popularity growth. Health conscious and environmentally conscientious individuals have turned away from dairy more and more over the past few years. Instead, they have turned to oat milk, which offers a lower carbon footprint and healthier alternative to dairy.
Those who are lactose intolerant are another group who have benefited from the increase in popularity of alternative milks. Oat milk makes an effective substitute for milk due to its texture and mild flavor. Although cereal, cooking, and baking are some uses for oat milk, the main reason for its rise to prominence is coffee. Oat milk allows vegans to drink lattes that taste as close to the original as possible.
Is oat milk gluten free?
This one is a bit trickier. Another great thing about oats is that they are naturally gluten free. However, when choosing your preferred oat milk brand it is always good to check the label. Oats are often grown near wheat, and some commercial oat milks are processed in facilities that also handle wheat products. The risk for cross-contamination from wheat products to oat milk is therefore high.
For those who suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, it is worth checking the label to see if the oat milk is certified gluten free.
How much sugar is in oat milk?
Oats are naturally sweet, which makes them stand out in the world of alternative milks. Because of this natural sweetness, oat milk doesn’t need as much sugar added to it in processing.
You might see on the nutritional information label that oat milk has some “added sugar”. This sugar occurs naturally during the process of producing oat milk, when complex carbohydrates break down into simple carbohydrates. The vast majority of oat milk brands don’t add sugar to their products, and RISE Brewing Co. is no different. While our oat milk contains 8g added sugar, this is due to the process of making the oat milk, and is still lower than the equivalent cow’s milk.
Is oat milk good for the environment?
When it comes to environmental impact, oat milk is just about the best milk alternative out there. Of course, any alternative milk is better for the environment than dairy. Producing a glass of dairy milk causes three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk.
How does oat milk compare? For one thing, there are no methane emissions from oat milk production, methane gas being a potent greenhouse gas much more destructive than carbon dioxide. Speaking of which, oat milk’s carbon dioxide emissions are also lower than most alternative milks, and critically it also uses less water.
Water use is a major issue with alternative milks, and oat milk is top tier in this regard as well. Almond milk, for example, uses over six times the water to produce compared to oat.
Oat milk’s main competitor in the sustainability stakes is soy, which also uses little water and results in similarly low carbon emissions. Soy, however, is frequently grown in extensive monocultures on land that was once rainforest. Our oats, meanwhile, are organically grown which adds another layer of sustainability to the equation.
What can oat milk be used for?
Oat milk has a huge range of applications. It can easily be swapped into recipes that require milk, for example. Its mild taste and low sugar content makes it an excellent baking ingredient. Oat milk also makes delicious ice cream and milkshakes, and has a long shelf life when stored correctly.
Oat milk added to cereal—especially muesli or oatmeal—adds a complementary flavor to your breakfast. Oat milk really is a versatile and collaborative beverage. But of course, its most famous and greatest collaboration is with coffee.
Why does oat milk pair so well with coffee?
For decades, coffee lovers who, for whatever reason, couldn’t consume dairy were left with few alternatives. The rise of oat milk in the coffee world, therefore, has been a blessing for vegan and other dairy free coffee lovers.
Oat milk’s mild flavor is its main weapon in the non-dairy coffee collaboration wars. Many alternative milks overpower the coffee, imparting their distinct flavors onto the beverage. Oat milk, however, blends beautifully with coffee without dominating it.
Oat milk is also naturally sweet and creamy, making it the perfect companion to all sorts of coffee drinks. Its creaminess makes it easy to steam and replicate traditional coffee and milk drinks. Oat milk works well as a creamer, in lattes and cappuccinos, and of course in nitro cold brew.
At RISE Brewing Co. we chose oat milk for our nitro cold brew in part for its creaminess and natural sweetness. We tried a huge range of alternative milks before finally settling on oat. We wanted our oat milk lattes and oat milk mochas to have that natural sweetness and creaminess.