How can you turn bread into beer?

Toast Ale is the brainwave of food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart, who brought the Belgian idea of using leftover bread in brewing back to Britain and starting sourcing left-over loaves.

The beer’s profits get funnelled into Feedback, a food waste distribution project.

“We want them to put us out of business,” says Julie Prebble, the Toaster at Toast ale. “When we have eliminated food surplus then we won’t need to make Toast ale.”

So how does it work?

While there’s around a slice of bread in every bottle, you won’t see crumbs floating around inside. The leftover bread goes into the mash tun and replaces a third of the barley needed to make beer — so as well as saving food waste it’s also cutting down on the barley the brewery uses.

“We we send the spent grain and bread off as animal feed, so we’re not taking it away from the animals. It’s just being used several times over which is much better,” explains Prebble.

Toast doesn’t just use your standard sliced white either. Bagels, sourdough, wholegrain…it’s all gone in.

“We haven’t determined which bread is better yet. As long as it doesn’t have seeds or fruit or olives in and it’s fresh. That’s all we need. The flavour is driven out by the hops and barley, so it’s more of a resource and uses up something that would be thrown away otherwise,” says Prebble.

In just over a year this small independent brand has made over 26,000 litres of beer, (partnered with Hambleton in Yorkshire) but they’re not shy about breaking bread with anyone.

“We started with Hackney Brewery but they couldn’t keep up with demand,” says Prebble. “Hambleton have decades of experience and don’t mind us chucking bread in their mash tun. We’ve also collaborated with St Austell and a couple of brew pubs and helped them find local bread to brew with.”

Toast has a lot of different ideas about to rise this year. The brand’s launching in the States, collaborating with a brewery in Iceland and building a franchise so beer masters around the world can make Toast with bread that’s local to them. Pita IPA anyone?

“We are helping to solve the problem of food waste, raising awareness of the issue but the drinks industry and each consumer needs to take part,” says Prebble. “But we have to taste great, or we won’t survive…thank goodness it tastes delicious.”

To read more about other breweries trying to do more to save the world click here or join pebble for our weekly newsletter with all things sustainable and super delicious.

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