Leftover bread? Make beer!

Posted on 02 August 2017.

In the UK, Tristram Stuart, a food waste activist and founder of the start-up company Toast Ale, has an unusual way with waste bread – he makes beer with unsold bread and the crusts thrown away by sandwich makers.

Bread is one of the most wasted foods. In the United Kingdom, for example, 44% of the production ends up in the garbage, which represents almost 900,000 tons of bread a year and about 24 million slices a day. Far too much for Tristram Stuart’s liking – he’s the food waste campaigner who was behind Feeding the 5,000 and founded the start-up Toast Ale. The Brit has found an original way of combating wasted bread: make beer from unsold bread and the crusts thrown away by sandwich makers.


Beer from leftover bread... Tristram Stuart’s amazing rev-ALE-ution.

Surplus and unsold bread

44% of bread produced in the UK ends up in the garbage. But almost half of that is before it even reaches our homes or restaurants. Sandwich factories discard the heel and first slice of every loaf – that’s 17% of the loaf – because we don’t buy sandwiches made with crusts. A single sandwich factory discards 13,000 slices of fresh bread every day. And bakeries and retailers dispose of day-old loaves because it’s relatively cheap to produce and consumers expect abundant supplies of day-fresh bread.
Some of this surplus fresh bread is collected by food charities that redistribute it to people in need. Toast Ale recovers waste from factories and small bakers.

More bread and less malt

The process of brewing beer with bread is not that different from making beer traditionally. Malt, hops, yeast and water - the same ingredients. Bread can replace about one third of the malt usually used. It uses a resource that would otherwise have been wasted and saves another one.
Toast Ale aims to deploy this practice worldwide by sharing the recipe for its beer and collaborating with other breweries (in the UK, but also in the United States and South Africa) where it is adapted to local conditions and traditions.
Tristram Stuart wants a true "rev-ale-ution" ("ale" refers to high-fermentation beers). A revolution that is part of a global movement to combat food waste and shows, like Feeding the 5,000 and other initiatives such as Disco Soup, how creative, ingenious and upbeat responses to this problem can really be.