One-third of all food is lost or wasted. With this knowledge, Tristram Stuart founded UK-based Toast in January 2016, using an abundance of bread to brew beer and reduce food waste. The company, which aims to create a “global food waste rev-ALE-ution” began contracting brews with Elmsford-based Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in 2017, using bread from Bread Alone Bakery, which has retail locations throughout the Hudson Valley.
Bread is at the top of the list of most wasted household foods in the US, according Toast. “[Working with Toast] is a great natural fit because Bread Alone has a deep commitment to sustainability,” says Nels Leader, vice president of Bread Alone. “We at the bakery have very lean and efficient production. In a given day, we might produce about 25,000 pounds of bread, so even if we are able to eliminate our extra dough and finished product to less than one percent, it’s still a fair amount of bread.”
The brew process requires, on average, 800 pounds of leftover bread. In the weeks leading up to the brew date, Bread Alone sets aside the surplus at its wholesale store in Kingston. The leftover cubed bread is delivered to Captain Lawrence every few months.
The process is the same as standard brewing except that bread replaces one third of the grain. “Bread is combined with malted barley in hot water and the naturally occurring enzymes in the malt turn the starches into simple sugars. Yeast converts the sugar to alcohol and hops are added to give bittering flavors and aroma, and to help to preserve the beer,” according to Toast.
“I have a lot of admiration for Toast and what they are doing. They are solving a real, fundamental problem in the food business, which is that a lot of food is thrown out after a lot of work has gone into making it,” Leader says. “They’re tackling what is an important reality of the food industry, and we need more people like the folks at Toast to tackle this challenge.” Captain Lawrence founder Scott Vaccaro agrees, “We love the idea and the mission [to reduce food waste], and we’re happy to help them complete their mission.”
Toast Ale can be found at Whole Foods and FoodKick, among other locations.