Read the full story at Vinepair.
The road from Milwaukee, Wis., to Ithaca, N.Y., is awash in the runny, proteinaceous by-product of the yogurt-making process known as whey. Or at least it was for Sam Alcaine, who worked on novel fermentations in the research and development department of Molson Coors (then known as MillerCoors) in the early aughts before migrating east and eventually taking an associate professor gig in Cornell University’s food science department. “Serendipitously, when I started up here, my focus was on dairy,” he tells VinePair in a recent phone interview. New York produces more milk than all but four other states, and more yogurt than 49. The result is a billion-dollar business that churns out hundreds of millions of pounds of acidic, milk-adjacent whey, which for various environmental reasons is not the sort of thing you can simply dump down the drain. Modern problems require modern solutions, and Alcaine had just that. “Looking at it with my brewer’s hat, I’m like ‘Hey, there’s a lot of sugar in here. We can convert that into alcohol.”