Tristram Stuart launched Toast Ale in January this year with the somewhat unusual aim of reducing global food waste.
We’ll let Louisa Ziane from Toast Ale explain:
“ Toast is taking a slice out of the bread mountain. Across the whole food chain, 44% of all bread is wasted. There's so much surplus that even food charities can't use it all and so it ends up being wasted. Supermarkets and bakeries overproduce because people expect fully-stocked shelves and as it’s relatively low-cost to produce, surplus makes more commercial sense than selling out. There are also the parts of the loaf that no-one wants. What do you think happens to the heel end of loaves when pre-packaged sandwiches are made for retail shelves?”
That’s a great question. In the case of this week’s beer the discarded bread ‘ends’ are donated by a major sandwich producer. These are used as part of the brewing process and replace a third of the malted barley that would normally go into the brew. For all you keen home brewer types Toast have even included the recipe on their website so you can make your own version. Nice.
The result is a lovely, very drinkable pale ale with the wheat (from the toast) noticeably adding to both the body and the smell of the beer. There’s something that reminds us of a Belgium style blonde ale in this beer.
Toast Ale are probably best described as a brewing company, working with experienced brewers to bring their great idea to life. The beers are currently brewed by Hambleton Ales in Yorkshire having already collaborated with the likes of St Austell Brewery in Cornwall and Wiper and True in Bristol (amongst others). In each of these collaborations they’ve sourced surplus loaves from bakeries close to the brewery.
“ Beer is a great fit with our mission to prove that the solution to food waste is delicious. A lot of it gets drunk every year, so we hope to use meaningful quantities of surplus bread. Upstream, we replace one-third of the virgin grain that would have been grown specially to produce beer. Downstream, our spent grain goes to animal feed to reduce the need to grow grain just to feed animals. It's also a long life product, preserving calories from bread through the process of fermentation, so won’t itself be wasted.”
If a beer that tastes fab and reduces food waste isn’t enough, the profits from the sale of Toast Ale go to Feedback who are an environmental organisation campaigning to end food waste at every level of the food system. Ultimately Toast hope that they will be put out of business by eliminating bread waste. Now there’s an interesting business model!
Toast’s “message in a bottle” is simple: by drinking this beer, you get to enjoy bread that would have ordinarily been wasted and donate to Feedback's campaigning work at the same time.
You can find out more about Toast Ale here. You can also follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook. We’d also encourage you all to watch Tristram Stuart’s TED talk and find out more about the work of Feedback.