A toast to making the most of our waste

The UK's first bread-to-beer project uses fresh surplus bread. Pic: Toast Ale

The UK’s first bread-to-beer project uses fresh surplus bread. Pic: Toast Ale

The UK’s first bread-to-beer project Toast Ale has launched in Hackney, using unsold bread and unwanted crusts which have been turned into ale, in a unique link up between a local brewery and the anti-food waste charity Feedback.

The scheme is the brainchild of Tristram Stuart, founder of Feedback which has been campaigning now for seven years and has the ambition to halve food waste by 2025.

Britons waste about 15 million tonnes of food every year, with bakery products top of the list. Nearly half of bread in the UK (44 per cent) gets thrown away every year.

“It was at the Brussels Beer Project where I first found out about this innovative brewing process that turns a colossal global problem into a delicious, drinkable solution,” said Stuart.

Director of Hackney Brewery Jon Swain takes up the story: “After speaking to the Belgium guys, Tristram suggested that we could do something similar in the UK to produce a beer that would help reduce food waste. Helped by their expertise of using bread and beer, we designed the recipe that we could make here.”

Director Jon Swain in front of Hackney Brewery. Pic: B. L.

While the brewery provides the production know-how, Feedback came up with a plan for how to save the fresh surplus bread from cafes, delis and other sandwich manufacturers.

Researcher Andrew Schein told eastlondonlines: “From the beginning, we wanted a beer that was not only doing good for the world, but also tasted great; the exciting thing is we got that, even on the first batch.”

All profits go to Feedback. Being involved in community initiatives is part of Hackney Brewery’s mission, so it was “a match made in heaven”, according to Schein.

There are plans for Toast Ale to go nationwide eventually, he added. “We think there’s no reason why every craft brewery can’t be doing what we’re doing here. It’s a beer that tastes and does good while being really exciting to consumers.”

Celebrity fans already include food waste champions such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Toast Ale gained numerous new followers on social media after Swain appeared in a TV show on Channel4 on Friday.

Toast is available to buy at ToastAle.com since January 22. The number of stockists is growing every day as craft ale retailers, pubs, bars and restaurants join the bread-to-beer ale movement.

Our reporter went to check it out:


Leave a Reply