Toast Ale Combats Food Waste by Brewing with Surplus Bread

There’s no denying we love any excuse to crack open a cold beer and cheers to a good cause. So when you combine two good causes into one brew? That’s a reason to have a second round. Toast Ale is putting waste bread back into the bottle all for the sake of sustainability and supporting charity – Toast Ale, we love you already.

In case you haven’t been reading your food news, one-third of the world’s food supply is wasted. A majority of that is due to food loss – throwing out scraps, leftovers, rotten food, etc. – and one of the biggest culprits is bread. That’s why activist and founder Tristram Stuart – who spent 15 years battling food waste – decided it fix the problem by brewing a craft beer with surplus bread loaves.

This is their mission, in their own words:

“To fix this situation, we need to follow the food waste hierarchy. It begins with reducing overproduction and then redistributing surplus to food charities. If food isn’t suitable for human consumption, it should be fed to animals.

As a last resort it can be used for composting or anaerobic digestion, but these are inefficient conversions of the resources used to produce food.”

Bread has an extremely short shelf life. Consumers often buy more than they eat, and stores often supply more than they sell, especially in America. If you’ve ever worked in a bakery or retailer with fresh bread, you’ve experienced first-hand the future of those unsold loaves. With demand not meeting supplies, a portion goes to the dump. Stuart takes those day-old, stale loaves that are on their way to the landfill and tosses them into the mash tun – those unwanted sandwich ends, too.

Beer is essentially liquid bread. It was Stuarts introduction into the concept of fermenting bread during the creation of Brussels Beer Project’s Babylone – a bread bitter based on a 7,000 year old tradition of fermenting bread – that got his gears turning. Bread into beer? Bingo.

Finding a thirst quenching answer to combat food waste, Toast Pale Ale, a truly great beer, was born. Stuart partnered with London’s Hackney Brewery to achieve this bready pale ale with a one-third malt bill of surplus loaves. Together with Hackney’s director Jon Swain and some tips from Brussels Beer Project, they were able to figure out the brewing process of taking surplus bread and preparing it for the mash.

The trick for this new beer was breaking up the toasted bread into small pieces then adding rice hulls to prevent the mash from sticking. The result was a craft ale that could combat the global issue of food waste. It’s safe to say Toast is the best thing since sliced bread.

The flavor profile of Toast certainly doesn’t disappoint either. The American Pale Ale brewed with leftover bread has a rich malty taste that taste like, well, toast. While a pale ale was chosen as the first brew due to its mass appeal, Toast has since expanded its bottle list and availability – they fittingly launched in the United States this past Independence Day.

Their beer line-up now includes bread inspired brews like Much Kneaded Craft Lager 4.5%, Bloomin’ Lovely Session IPA 5%, Top Lager (Special Edition) 5%, and Purebread Pale Ale 5%. There is also an ongoing list of collaborations like “Bread Pudding” Amber Ale with Wiper and True and White Toast Weissbier with Essex Street Brewery.

And the proceeds of these sustainably acclaimed beers? That all goes to charity. Toast donates 100 percent – yes, 100 percent – of its proceeds to a charity dedicated to ending food waste called Feedback. Stuart just so happens to also be the founder of this charity – that’s a smart, dedicated activist making a significant impact.

Composting, re-growing food, reducing scraps, these are all excellent ideas in the fight against food waste. But beer? Now that just sounds a little bit better.

Now brewing with New York’s The Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, Toast is calling upon other breweries to join the rev-ALE-ution. They are also looking to collaborate with any brewery interested in fighting food waste.

If you are a brewery interested in working with Toast, head on over to their website for more information. If you’re a homebrewer, here’s the clone recipe. You should note, different breads result in different flavors, so choose your malt carefully. You’ll still need a good portion of malt in your grist otherwise your mash will have a hard time converting starch into sugar.

For those of you that do brew Toast, let us know all about it, and quite possibly give us a taste.

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