When I was in London 2 weeks ago for a trend seminar, I met the people behind the brand new Toast ale beer, the first UK-produced beer made from discarded crusts and unsold loaves. We got talking and tasting so it only seemed fair to report back on this exceptional project.
Toast Ale beer, made entirely from surplus bread that would otherwise by thrown away by bakeries, delicatessens and supermarkets is the brainchild of Tristram Stuart – who has linked up with Hackney Brewery to produce the new ale. Stuart hopes Toast ale beer will help to offset the 24m slices of bread currently thrown away every day by UK households. According to official UK figures, every year about 15m tonnes of food is wasted. At home and in the commercial sector bread is the most wasted food item. “Tackling the global issue of food waste has taken me all over the world,” says Stuart. “We hope to eventually put ourselves out of business. The day there’s no waste bread is the day Toast Ale can no longer exist.”
This attitude and great vision does not stay unnoticed: Stuart has been named at the World Economic Forum in Davos as one of 30 leaders to inspire ambition and mobilise action to reduce food loss and waste globally.
Toast ale beer is made when surplus bread is sliced and mashed to make breadcrumbs, then toasted and brewed with malted barley, hops and yeast to make a quality pale ale with a distinctive taste. The toasted bread adds caramel notes that balance the bitter hops, and gives a malty taste similar to amber ales. I’m not a huge beer drinker (for me beer is reserved for much festivals, rock concertes and theme related chef diners), but I was quite fond of the mild bitter taste, the result of many different flavors & ingredients from artisan breads and the ’toasting proces’.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the company is open-sourcing the recipe for Toast ale in a bid to get everyone involved in eliminating bread waste by brewing delicious beer. The idea is to catalyse a home-brewing community of zero-bread-waste households. Also commercial breweries are free to use the recipe or adapt it to make their version of Toast ale, preferably in collaboration with Toast. To make this project even more perfect: all profits go to the charity project Feedback, who aims to halve food waste by 2030.
Toast ale beer is available to buy at £3 a bottle and is available from craft ale retailers, pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK.
Let’s all raise a Toast to all the home-brewer do-gooders across the world and help tackle the problem of food waste!
If you’re interested to collaborate with the Toast ale beer project, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More about Tristram Stuart ‘s vision and drive on the food waste battle in this TED talk of 2012.