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Beer brewed with surplus bread

British beer brand "Toast Ale" use bread that otherwise will be thrown away

Photo of Shengmin
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  • Founder's story & Motivation

Tristram Stuart, an international award-winning author, speaker, campaigner, and expert on the environmental and social impacts of food production. He created Toast Ale in 2015. All profits go to Feedback, the charity Tristram founded, which aims to put a stop to food waste.

Tristram was inspired by the Brussels Beer Project, who created Babylone with bread that would otherwise be wasted based on an ancient Babylonian recipe – making beer out of bread is an “innovation” that may be as old as bread itself!

  • Why is bread wasted?

Bread is wasted throughout the supply chain.  Bakeries often have extra loaves at the end of the day as demand is affected by many factors, including the weather.  Artisan bakers put their hearts into baking and hate to see it go to waste so most do manage their stock carefully.  Supermarkets dispose of bread that is past the sell-by date, even though it is usually still perfectly edible.  Sandwich manufacturers have to discard the crust end of loaves because, whilst they taste just as good, consumers find them less attractive. Have you ever noticed that sandwiches you buy in a shop never use the end pieces? Consumers also waste vast quantities in our homes – we need to get better at freezing bread and using stale bread innovatively in the kitchen.

  • Why Beer?

Beer stores the delicious and nutritious calories bread provides, if the bread cannot be eaten in time, in a way that is still tasty, while also having a much longer shelf life. We want to keep all of the bread’s calories in the human food supply chain. Beer allows us to do that, placing it very high in the hierarchy of ways to manage surplus food – what we call the “food waste hierarchy”

  • How it made?

This method of using surplus bread also takes priority over using the surplus bread for Toast Ale. When sourcing bread from sandwich makers, delis, and bakeries, Toast Ale always first discuss whether the bread could be given to food redistribution charities instead. Only when this is not possible do they take the bread to make into beer. The surplus bread hierarchy is 1) reduce, 2) redistribute, 3) brew

Toast Ale combine breadcrumbs with malted barley, oat husks, Bramling Cross and Chinook hops, yeast and water. Bread is packed with carbohydrates, which are broken down to sugar by amylase, then yeast converts the sugar to alcohol.

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What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Surplus food in different culture can be turned into different products, e.g. consider rice in Asia. According to the "food waste hierarchy", there's a priority to keep surplus food in human food supply chain.

Tell us about your work experience:

I work as a design researcher in a food innovation company in Shanghai. We are currently working on a project related to food waste :)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Thank you Shengmin for highlighting an unusual use for food waste. I am wondering if there could be a link to these research posts:

What do you think? Do you think is possible to use these other sources of food as feedstock for the beer?

Photo of Shengmin

Hi Kate, it's great that you mentioned the "ugly" veggie/fruit problem.
These veggie and fruit might not be an ingredient for beer but they could make up a cider I guess :D
Otherwise, they can be turn into jam, chutney or fruit jerky as some start-ups already doing it.
Check out this post:
and this company called Snact who make fruit jerky out of surplus fruit

Photo of Toast Ale

Hi @InnovKate Other sources of food can be added to beer to give it interesting flavours. For example The Real Junk Food Project recently collaborated on a brew that uses overripe pears. For the feedstock for Toast, bread replaces 1/3 of the malted barley that would otherwise be used to brew beer. There is a huge amount wasted every day - 44% of all bread produced - so we are focusing on saving the humble loaf.

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