Solid Beer

by Lucy Sutton
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People often refer to beer as “liquid bread,” but BRU Co., Davis, CA, reverses the expression. The brainchild of Christian D’Souza, BRUBAR energy bars are primarily sweetened with all-natural barley malt for a beer-inspired pick-me-up.

“I was eating an energy bar while driving to the homebrew supply store when I realized that the flavors of energy bars have some overlap with the flavors of craft beer,” said Mr. D’Souza, product development, co-founder of BRU and a longtime home brewer of craft beer. “I knew that barley malt is sometimes used as an ingredient in energy bars, but none had a focus on barley malt.”

Along with James Radkins, who manages operations and logistics, Mr. D’Souza founded BRU Co. in 2010. Striving to achieve a clean ingredient label, the pair opted for a simple formulation for a bar that is vegan, whole-grain, dairy-free, wheat-free and soy-free, with no refined sugar or trans fat. The entire ingredient label for the Original Malt flavor reads, “Malt extract, rolled oats, dates, almonds, coconut, olive oil, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon.” Its Cherry Almond counterpart substitutes almond extract for vanilla and adds cherries.

“This combination provides a more consistent energy release: sugar from the dates first, then the barley malt takes over, with the rolled oats triggering last,” Mr. D’Souza said. “We’re also hearing feedback that vegan athletes prefer bars without soy products, which are very common in other bars.”

The bars do not taste like beer, Mr. D’Souza explained, because the ingredients are not fermented. “But home brewers usually recognize a similar taste as when brewing wort [unfermented beer],” he said.

Marketed under the tagline “Simple Tastes Better,” BRUBARs retain their moisture because of the amount of barley malt, which is less sweet than other sweeteners, in the formula.

“Dates are naturally high in sugar, and barley does contain gluten, so these first flavors are not for everyone,” Mr. D’Souza said. “We are working on a gluten-free version at the moment and will release it as soon as possible — hopefully early next year.”

BRUBARs are available on the company website at, as well as in retailers in California and Washington state, for a suggested price of $2 per 56-g bar. The company expects to release two new flavors — Apricot and Oatmeal Raisin — this summer or fall.

“We are so pleased with the response so far, and we are so excited to keep the momentum going,” Mr. D’Souza said. “We think we have created something special, and we are having a great time sharing it.”