A number of breweries in northern England are making a craft beer, Toast Ale, by substituting part of the malt it would otherwise have used with leftover bread. The beer was conceptualized to make use of discarded bread in an effort to fight food waste: in Britain, 44% of the bread produced ends up in the garbage. Toast Ale is also being brewed in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town.
The beer is the brainchild of Tristram Stuart, founder of anti-food waste organization Feedback. For Toast, Stuart works with brewery partners throughout the UK. “We work with established breweries to create our unique beer. There are now a lot of breweries across the UK – about 1,700 at the last count – but they’re not all running at full capacity,” according to a post on the Toast Ale website. “When they’re not brewing their own beer, either the equipment sits unused while the brewers keep a watchful eye on the fermenting tanks, or they brew for others. We’re all about minimizing our footprint and using space, time and expertise that would otherwise be wasted, so we’re taking full advantage of the slack in the system.”
The newest brewing partner is Wold Top Brewery, which uses discarded bread from a nearby sandwich factory. Wold Top has used nearly 10 metric tons of bread to produce more than 300,000 beers, according to the Inquirer. Profits are donated to Feedback; any grains left after brewing are fed to livestock.
Craft brewers the world over have sought to reduce their environmental footprint by engaging in a variety of sustainability initiatives. A handful of breweries in Denver have begun making beer using recycled water, while Deschutes Brewery in Oregon is building an on-site water treatment facility to treat its wastewater. And Carlsberg Group has set a goal of reducing water usage at its breweries by 50% by 2030 by leveraging “technological breakthroughs at brewery level” as well as collaborations with partners in high-risk catchment areas to ensure long-term water availability.