We all have eaten sandwiches and let’s admit, it’s an evolutionary concept! A wholesome meal, having ingredients from all the 5 basic groups (if prepared wisely). But, the only thing we really don’t find so appetizing about a loaf of bread is obviously the crust (ends of the loaf). It’s chewy, hard and has no flavor of a normal bread slice. Therefore, we often leave the crust while preparing or eating a sandwich. As a result, ultimately it goes into the trash bin as it’s waste for us, isn’t it?
Cheers to TOAST ALE – Bread To Beer on creating a beer out of what we considered “waste”!
The Big Picture | Bread To Beer
Let us look at a bigger picture; in a country like the UK, about 9,00,000 tonnes of bread which is about 24 million slices is wasted every day. Just imagine! That’s actually enough to feed about 26 million people when talking in terms of calories. Wastage occurs at various levels; at the farm (grain wastage), at the manufacturing factories, during the supply chain and ultimately in restaurants and our households. Generally, sandwich makers discard the heel end of the loaves and sometimes the first slice also, therefore leading to wastage of 17% of a loaf. That’s just one loaf. All of this waste ends up in the landfills or composting pits.
According to a life cycle analysis by Tesco– the only supermarket in the UK who are transparent about their food waste statistics revealed that 34%-44% of the bread produced in the UK is wasted before it even reaches the households. Bread being just like a pixel in the global food waste picture, 1/3 of the total food produced (1.3 billion tonnes per year)– gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems.
Food production has caused the biggest impact on the environment. It requires a lot of land and water resources to grow food. Calculating the land use footprint of just the food that is “never eaten” is 1.4 billion hectares, 28% of the world’s agricultural land area and the water footprint is 250 cubic km.
Toast Ale to the rescue
Tristram Stuart launched Toast Ale project in the UK in 2016 and is currently selling three varieties: a lager called Much Kneaded; Bloomin’ Lovely, a session IPA; and Purebread, a pale ale. They use discarded uneaten bread to produce beer and hence contribute their support in fighting against food wastage, especially bread wastage in Britain. Tristram Stuart along with his team of 8 more people have set out to tackle the global issue of food issue. And they one day hope to put themselves out of business. The day when there is no bread wastage, we won’t be needing Toast Ale no more.
They are sold at price of £3
Tristram was inspired by the concept of making beer from the bread that’s waste when he visited Brussels Beer Project in Belgium. There he discovered a beer called Babylone, which is based on a 7,000-year-old practice of making beer from fermented bread.
He remembers thinking: “That is a killer of an idea because I know bread was being wasted all over the world in industrial quantities while it is still absolutely fresh. I know that there is a distributed global network of craft brewers with whom there is a culture of collaboration, talent, real openness, and interest in cracking problems.”
After he returned to the UK, he shared and described the idea to Rob Wilson who is currently the chief toaster. He instantly got clicked with the idea of brewing beer from unused bread. He says, “It combined everything that I am personally interested in and curious about and passionate about.”
The Man behind the Beer | Bread To Beer
Tristram Stuart is an international award-winning author, campaigner, speaker, and expert on the environmental and social impact of food waste. He is also the founder of Feedback– an environmental organization that works towards ending food waste at every level of the food system.
He has authored 3 books out of which “The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarians and Discovery of India ” was a great success. Also been awarded quite a few times for his contributions and has presented a TEDx talk entitled “The Global Food Waste Scandal.”He is a Freegan, basically, a person who in reaction to food wastage problem procures items from trash or waste that are perfect and fit for consumption.
How it’s made
Fresh, surplus or waste bread is obtained from local bakeries, sandwich shops which is no use to them. These shops find it economic to give it away for bread brewing rather than disposing it off to landfills and composting pits.
SLICE, DRY, AND CRUSH THE BREAD:
The surplus bread is sliced and dried in an oven at 90 ºC for 1 hr. Upon drying it is coarsely crushed.
Bread To Beer
The bread used substitutes a particular amount of malted barley required for making the beer. Hence, the barley grains are steeped in 15.7L of water at 67ºC, covered and left for 60 minutes. The naturally occurring enzymes in malt help in breaking down the starch into simple sugars.
SPARGE AND LAUTER
The liquid is drained from the bottom of the mash tun (steeping vessel). This process is known as lautering and simultaneously the grains are being washed with water at 78ºC to extract out additional sugars (sparging). Sparging is continued until we reach a volume of about 25L.
BOIL AND HOPS
The wort is brought to a boil. 5g of German Hallertau Tradition hops is added immediately after 90 minutes. These provide Toast its lip-smacking bitter taste. They also help balance out the caramel notes from the bread and the papaya and mango notes from the aroma hops which are added at a later stage.
A few more ingredients are added at particular time intervals to enhance the color and flavor.
COOL, FERMENT AND CONDITION
The wort is cooled to 20ºC. On cooling, yeast is added into the wort. It is then left for fermentation by maintaining the wort temperature around 18ºC for 7 days. After an interval of 5 days, hops are added to add flavors of fresh mango, passion fruit, and kiwi.
The beer is siphoned into the sterile bottles primed carbonation. The bottles are then sealed and kept in a cool, dark place (around 12ºC) for 2 weeks. This process helps in the secondary fermentation process and allows the beer to develop some fizz and condition properly.
Impact and Future | Bread To Beer
The profits earned by Toast Ale go directly to Feedback. Since its operations, it has managed to save 11 tons of bread from becoming trash. In 2017, they expanded into the USA where its director ascertains that Toast Ale will be saving 907 kgs of bread in a month from New York City alone, which makes about 12 tons a year.
We certainly need more projects, more people and more effort in order to combat the massive food waste problems which is growing at a much faster rate than ever expected. So let us come together, join our hands and contribute our shares!