We discussed with Toast Ale last week, a great company launched by Tristram Stuart in January 2016.
Tristram is also the founder of Feedback which aims to put a stop to food waste. They decided to share some information about their London beer with us!
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At Toast Ale, we believe that doing good shouldn't mean going without. Globally, one-third of all food is wasted despite the massive amounts of energy, water and land that goes into producing it. We're trashing the planet to grow food that no-one eats! But the solution is simple and thoroughly enjoyable: we just need to eat (or drink) the food we are producing.
We're 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?
Well now they are used to make beer. We work with a major sandwich producer who donates the discarded heels to our brewery partner. We're nomadic brewers, working with experienced brewers - currently Hambleton Ales in Yorkshire - to produce our bottled Pale Ale. We've also done a number of collaboration brews with St Austell Brewery in Cornwall, Wiper and True and King Street Brewhouse in Bristol and Essex Street Brewery in London. For those collaborations we've sourced surplus loaves from bakeries close to the brewery.
The brewing process is pretty much the same as with any beer, except we use bread to replace one-third of the malted barley that would usually go into the brew. The carbohydrates in the bread are converted into simple sugars by the amylase in the barley, then the yeast converts the sugars to alcohol. Our recipe is published on our website (here) so homebrewers can use up their own leftover bread.
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 can 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.
But the main reason we chose beer as a solution to food waste is because it's fun. There's too much bland negatively in discussions about sustainability - that we need to reduce or stop doing something to make a difference. We've offering a way that you can do your bit without changing your life. Our 'message in a bottle' is simple: by drinking Toast, you attribute value to bread that would have been wasted, and donate to Feedback's campaigning work to make our food system work for people and planet.
There's a camaraderie that comes with challenging the status quo, finding a better way and fuelling positive change. Join the rev-ale-ution!