Old Bread Brewed Into Game-Changing Beer

Surplus bread is used for some of the grains in Toast Ale. (Photo: Toast Ale)

Toast Ale has jumped the pond.

Toast was launched two years ago in the U.K. by Tristram Stuart, an expert on the environmental and social impacts of food waste. His mission was to create a great beer with salvaged leftover organic bread — and he succeeded, creating the company's flagship American pale ale.

Stuart founded Toast as a way to to raise awareness about food waste. Karen Kuhn, head of business development at Toast Ale USA, says he also wanted to create income for Feedback, an environmental organization started by Stuart that focuses on ending food waste at every level of the food system around the globe.

When Toast launched, it had the support and endorsement of chef and author Jamie Oliver, and the beer quickly gained popularity in the U.K. The company is currently working with Chelsea Craft Brewing Company in the Bronx to brew Toast Ale here in the States.

How they get from bread to beer

Toast Ale, mash
In this photo from Toast's U.K. operations, bread is added to the grain mash to create beer. (Photo: Toast Ale)

Toast partners with Bread Alone Bakery, which has locations throughout the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains. They've been baking organic bread since 1983.

"Bread Alone is a family-owned bakery that makes amazing, artisanal bread at scale," says Kuhn. "They are super conscious about where their waste goes."

Bread Alone donates surplus bread to soup kitchens, and what doesn't get donated there goes to livestock feed or is composted.

"What we get [at Toast] is a portion that would go to compost," says Kuhn. Currently, Toast Ale USA is brewing in 30-barrel batches. Bread Alone is still composting plenty of bread waste that can be used for beer as Toast expands.

"Grains serve to provide the carbs and sugars crucial in the fermentation process," said Kuhn. "Bread ends up being 30 percent of the grain bill in Toast." The other 70 percent is malted barley.

Where you can find Toast


Right now, Toast is licensed to distribute in New York City and Long Island. It's frequently served at events at one of the nation's busiest convention centers, the Javits Center, through in-house caterer Centerplate.

"The Javits Center has a ton of events that are aligned with Toast," says Kuhn.

Paul Pettas, communications director at Centerplate, feels the same.

"Guests love it, and it's brewed right here in New York City," Pettas says. "That it fits in with Centerplate's core values of adding interesting local brands, innovative products, and partners that benefit the community — in this case diverting food waste — make it huge win."

The beer is also available in New York at Whole Foods.

While the beer is also available at other retailers and some prestigious restaurant's like Dan Barber's Blue Hill and Tom Colicchio's Craft, it's the demos at Whole Foods that are helping spread the company's message about food waste to people who may not know the severity of the problem.

"We get to talk to folks on the front line," said Kuhn. "Unfortunately food waste is an issue that is not widely talked about. We get to facilitate conversations over fun, every day beer."