One major global problem is the massive amount of food that’s being wasted every single day, but one ambitious company from the UK has a great and delicious plan to tackle that issue: turn leftover bread and other food waste into beer.
Toast Ale brews beer for local bars and pubs and also has commercial bottles for sale in stores. One-third of the ingredients that they would normally use to brew ale is made from leftover bread.
It’s a perfect way to help deal with food waste, and customers aren’t complaining about the taste of the beer either.
“In the UK, 44 percent of all bread is wasted,” Louisa Ziane, who works as the company’s chief brand and finance officer, said to PRI. “So we take surplus bread from bakeries and sandwich makers, and we replace a third of the barley that would otherwise have been used to brew, upcycling bread that would have otherwise been wasted.”
After the bread is collected, it undergoes a special procedure to make sure that the sugars present in the bread can then turn into alcohol via chemical processes. This greatly reduces the amount of barley needed in the mix.
A local pub in central London used their small brewery to make and distribute the beer, and the pub also actively encourages people and visitors to participate in the brewing process.
“We got a lesson in brewing as well as a lesson in using the bread for it,” customer Michael Mulcahy told. “Today, we get to taste what came out of it.”
The creators of this bread beer wanted to make a statement.
They’re using the Toast Ale beers to raise awareness about the global and severe issue of food waste. Even though brewing beer with bread isn’t new at all, Toast is one of the first companies who has done a great job at marketing it and wants to deal with food waste effectively.
“Beer is a really fun medium to engage people on what is globally a very important problem,” Louisa told.
The start-up was launched two years ago and is not yet profitable, but the company is planning to donate their future profits to the Feedback charity that deals with food waste. One of the founders of that charity organization was also responsible for getting this beer off the ground.
At the moment, Toast is collaborating with a number of local and larger bakeries and catering services to receive their food waste and surplus bread, but they also encourage local brewing initiatives. According to the website, the company has already saved more than 25,000 pounds of bread.
“We recognize that there are bakeries up and down the country who are left with surplus bread at the end of the day, and there are also over 2,000 breweries in the UK, so Toast is playing matchmaker with these local bakeries and breweries.”
A lot of bread still goes to waste, because the shelf life is very limited.
“It’s not the easiest product to move on to someone else,” Tara Griffin from The Flour Station told. “A lot of homeless shelters look for cans or packaged food that is easier to keep for a longer period.”
“There is so much bread being wasted that we don’t need to take it away from people who could eat it, and our priority is to get it to people,” Louisa added.
So how does the brewing process work?
All kinds of bread with fairly neutral and non-exotic flavors are accepted and are a great substitute for malted barley. The bread is then torn into smaller pieces and mixed with the rest of the barley and hot water.
Due to the fermentation process, the crusts are strained off and won’t form any issues. The rest of the bread simply dissolves into the mix and it turns into a mash.
Brewing the bread mix is a little bit harder than regular beer, however, as stirring requires a lot more physical force.
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“It floats on top and it makes it really difficult [to stir],” one of the brewers told. “It’s really hard work. So instead of mashing in about half an hour, it takes you an hour and a half to mash, and it’s quite a lot of effort.”
If you want to try the recipe yourself, you can find an online instruction guide on the company’s website for in-home brewing.
Toast Ale is expanding around the world and the beer is currently available in the UK, Iceland, Brazil, and South Africa. You can also find their beers in shops and restaurants in New York City.
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