Questions & Answers

Who is behind Toast Ale?

Tristram Stuart, an international award-winning author, speaker, campaigner, and expert on the environmental and social impacts of food production. He created Toast Ale in 2015. All profits go to Feedback, the charity Tristram founded, which aims to put a stop to food waste. Tristram was inspired by the Brussels Beer Project, who created Babylone with bread that would otherwise be wasted based on an ancient Babylonian recipe – making beer out of bread is an “innovation” that may be as old as bread itself.

What is Feedback?

Feedback has been leading a global movement against food waste, working with governments, businesses and civil society at a national and international level to catalyse change in social attitudes and demonstrate innovative solutions to tackle food waste. Its campaigns have expanded since 2009 and are now under five banners: Feeding the 5000, Gleaning Network, The Pig Idea, Stop Dumping, and the FSE Network. Feedback is the charity that governs these campaigns, as well as its wider work influencing public attitudes and government and business policies on food waste. The organisation has the ambition to halve food waste by 2025.

Why is bread wasted?

Bread is wasted throughout the supply chain.  Bakeries often have extra loaves at the end of the day as demand is affected by many factors, including the weather.  Artisan bakers put their hearts into baking and hate to see it go to waste so most do manage their stock carefully.  Supermarkets dispose of bread that is past the sell-by date, even though it is usually still perfectly edible.  Sandwich manufacturers have to discard the crust end of loaves because, whilst they taste just as good, consumers find them less attractive. Have you ever noticed that sandwiches you buy in a shop never use the end pieces? Consumers also waste vast quantities in our homes – we need to get better at freezing bread and using stale bread innovatively in the kitchen.

How big a problem is bread waste?

Nearly half (44%) of bread produced in the UK is thrown away along the supply chain. This doesn’t include bread that is redirected to food charities as that stays in our food chain and so is not classified as waste.

Households alone throw away 24 million slices of bread, enough to lift 26 million people out of malnutrition.

Avoidable bakery waste in UK households (WRAP, 2008):
– 895,583 tonnes wasted per year
– Calories would have lifted 26,469,617 people out of malnutrition (based on ashortfall in calories in the dietary intake of the world’s malnourished, called the ‘depth of hunger’, of 250kcal/person/day – FAO).
– Land to grow the food: 87,767 ha
– Emissions from producing the food: 752,290 CO2e

Toast Ale uses a slice of surplus bread in every bottle.

Is that typical of other foods, too?

1.3 billion tons of the food produced for human consumption is wasted every year – about 1/3 of humanity’s total food supply. In the UK, we waste about 15 million tons of food, with bread being the worst offender.

What is the environmental impact of food waste?

It’s massive! Food waste, not bread specifically, accounts for 3.3Gt CO2e (the 3rd top emitter after USA and China!), has a blue water footprint of 250 km3 (3 times the volume of Lake Geneva) and a land use footprint of 1.4bn hectares (28% of worlds agricultural land area)

What is the “food waste hierarchy”?

The food waste hierarchy shows the various ways to use surplus food while also attaching levels of environmental preference to these choices. The food waste hierarchy shows that the best thing to do with food is generally to eat it! Food production is very water-, CO2-, and energy-intensive, so it should always be a priority to keep it in our food supply chain. Second-best is to feed the surplus to livestock. Indeed, the spent grains from brewing beer are not normally fit for human consumption, but they make great animal feed. Hackney Brewery gives its spent grains to horses on a local farm. Only if there are no alternative markets should food makers look to send the food to composters or anaerobic digesters. (And, certainly, there is no need for anyone to send surplus food to landfills).

What about reducing the amount of bread waste in the first place?

This is our first priority. We give 100% of our profits to Feedback, a food waste campaigning organisation working to end food waste at all levels of the food supply chain. “We hope to put ourselves out of business,” Toast Ale Founder Tristram Stuart has noted. “The day there’s no waste bread is the day Toast Ale can no longer exist.”

What about giving surplus bread to people in need?

This method of using surplus bread also takes priority over using the surplus bread for Toast Ale. When we source bread from sandwich makers, delis, and bakeries, we always first discuss whether the bread could be given to food redistribution charities instead. Only when this is not possible do we take the bread to make into beer. Our surplus bread hierarchy is 1) reduce, 2) redistribute, 3) brew.

Why can’t food redistribution charities take the bread that we use?

Food redistribution charities do heroic work. As one example, in 2014, Fareshare rescued almost 8,000 tonnes of food, providing 16.6 million meals to people who needed them. These charities face a range of constraints in scaling up. Most pressing is how to store food that is perishable. Often there is more surplus food, especially perishable food, than these charities can manage. They need increased administrative and cold chain capacity as much as they need more surplus food.

What about giving the bread to livestock?

Giving to livestock comes lower down the food waste hierarchy than keeping it in our own food supply chain.  However we enthusiastically support Feedback’s work under The Pig Idea to encourage surplus food’s use as livestock feed. Under current EU law, food that may have been in contact with animal products – including bread from sandwich makers that use meat – cannot be used for livestock feed.

Why beer?

Beer stores the delicious and nutritious calories bread provides, if the bread cannot be eaten in time, in a way that is still tasty, while also having a much longer shelf life. We want to keep all of the bread’s calories in the human food supply chain. Beer allows us to do that, placing it very high in the hierarchy of ways to manage surplus food – what we call the “food waste hierarchy”

How do you make Toast Ale?

We combine surplus fresh bread with malted barley, oat husks, hops, yeast and water. Bread is packed with carbohydrates, which are broken down to sugar by amylase in the barley, then yeast converts the sugar to alcohol. We have published our recipe on our blog.

Can I make Toast ale?

We’ve published a bread beer recipe for home brewers so everyone can use up their leftover bread. Find the recipe here

If you’re a brewery, we’d love to collaborate. Drop us an email at hello@toastale.com

What ingredients are used?

We use malted barley (pale malt, CaraMalt, and Munich Malt), oat husks, bread, water, hops (Hallertau, Centennial, Cascade,  Bramling Cross) and yeast.

Is Toast Ale suitable for vegetarians?

Like most beers on the market, isinglass is used in the brewing process for stabilisation.

Where can I buy Toast?

You can buy Toast at our online shop  or from one of our stockists.

What is the future for Toast Ale?

We want to partner with food waste activists, craft brewers and local sources of bread waste around the world to make Toast ale. We hope to reduce waste, raise awareness and raise funds for local food waste activism and Feedback. Contact us if you want to be part of a global brewing food waste rev-ale-ution!