How Do We Curb Bread Waste? Beer Could Be One Solution

Toast Ale uses surplus bread to brew up beer, and you’ll be able to drink it this summer.

All of the beer’s proceeds will go to charities that are working to end food waste. Photo courtesy of Toast Ale.

A third of fresh bread goes to waste in the U.S., and some people are out to change that by taking what can’t be used by food banks and turning it into beer.

The Toast Ale project started a year and a half ago in the U.K., when Tristram Stuart of Feedback Global was on a trip to Belgium, where he tasted a bread-based beer and realized surplus loaves could have a new life in bottles and cans. He teamed up with a brewery in London to develop their recipe for an English Pale Ale. Now Madeline Holtzman, a student in NYU’s Food Studies program, is bringing the beer Stateside with a crowd-funding campaign for the operation that will give 100 percent of its proceeds to charities that are working to end food waste.

“Bread is the one thing that no one has known what to do with,” says Holtzman, who’s been working out of Chelsea Craft Brewing in the Bronx. “There is surplus bread in every corner,” she says. When she first heard of the Toast Ale project, she was blown away by how scalable the concept is—versus things like bread pudding or croutons—and became fascinated. Now she’s just brewed the first U.S. pilot batch and has tweaked the recipe to create an American Pale Ale, which is expected to be on shelves this July 4th.

“The vision for the U.S. specifically is that we’ll start with New York. We want to nail production and distribution here, then expand more regionally in the northeast, says Holtzman. “The down-the-road goal is that we’ll partner with existing nonprofits in other parts of the U.S. to share the recipe, branding, and knowledge—all the know-how—to produce regional versions of Toast, and the profits will be retained regionally to support whatever food-waste projects that those nonprofits are doing.” We can all drink to that.

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Alicia is the associate editor of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn.