Beer comes in tens of thousands of flavors derived from thousands of ingredients to suit every preference, dietary restriction, occasion, and even every form of environmental impact (think food waste).
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Here are four beer companies that are being creative and responsibly looking at the best food-waste-free ways possible to develop their product.
Before we get to the beer genius behind ReGrained’s Supergrain+ bars, to fully appreciate why this highly creative Certified B Corporation is as amazing as they are, understand that ReGrained follows the “Food Waste Alchemy” way of thinking.
According to ReGrained, Food Waste Alchemy is a form of upcycling that they see as the “realization of the circle economy and cradle-to-cradle thinking for nutrition.” They further explain this as seeking “opportunities for edible outputs to become inputs (read: ingredients) for more edible outputs.”
So let’s tie that into how they make edible beer out of would-be waste.
Grains make beer. To change a grain such as barley into a tasty brew you have to create a “brew-ready malt.” To do this, grains need to soak in a nice hot water bath so they can create enzymes that transform starches and proteins into fermentable sugar, which then feeds the yeast that, in turn, creates alcohol.
As the brewing process comes to completion most companies would see a final product (beer) and a waste product (grains). This is where ReGrained’s vision and imagination steps in to make a big food-waste difference.
At ReGrained their name says it all. Seeing the potential for something new in the post-beer waste, ReGrained transforms the leftover grain into an “Upcycled Prebiotic Supergrain.” According to ReGrained, “Brewing beer processes the sugar out of the grain. This gives [them] optimal access to protein, fiber, and a whole bunch of micronutrients that [they] upcycle into SuperGrain+.” They also state that, “ReGrained SuperGrain+ is a great source of prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber supports gut health by providing food for the probiotic bacteria that live in your gut.”
What do you get when you combine a seriously philanthropic company with a major dedication to reducing a big food-waste contributor? The answer is Toast Ale. This certified B Corp is changing the face of wasted bread as we know it.
According to Toast Ale, bread is Britain’s most wasted food. It makes sense since this perishable food gets tossed out when it gets stale, moldy, soggy, or even if it doesn’t look right (think restaurants and grocery stores). Bread food waste doesn’t begin with the final product either. Bread can become food waste throughout its entire production, from harvest to bakery. So how is Toast Ale breathing life back into bad bread? It all comes from the past.
Beer is really old, and Toast Ale is paying homage to this fact by brewing their beer the way it was brewed roughly 7,000 years ago. This is what inspired Tristram Stewart, Toast Ale’s founder. Karen Kuhn, Head of Business Development for Toast Ale in the United States, notes that, after tasting a bread-made beer, Stewart realized they could “divert a lot of bread from landfills, and at the same time start a conversation about food waste.”
This is what inspired him to partner with London’s Hackney Brewery to create Toast Ale’s first beer. What made this first beer so special was that one-third of the grain used to make it came from would-be food waste from local bakeries.
Since that first beer, Toast Ale has grown to distribute their bread beer across the United Kingdom and through major suppliers like Whole Foods, and FoodKick in the United States. In the past three years, Toast Ale has turned 142,305 slices of bread into 12,097 gallons of beer.
If their commitment to ending food waste wasn’t impressive enough, Toast Ale donates 100 percent of all profits to Stewart’s non-profit, FeedBack Global, an organization focused on a circular food system which uses fewer resources to produce food while greatly reducing food waste. That is something we can all raise a glass to!
Been A Slice
Toast Ale isn’t the only brewer taking advantage of otherwise discarded bread to make their beer And why not? There is plenty of bread waste to go around (unfortunately). Meet Been A Slice, the brewer that is doing everything they can to create tasty beers “Brought Back from the Bread!”
What is unique about Been A Slice is that they are more than just a brewer. This serious food waste conscious repurposer is working through amazing partnerships to not only brew but also do a huge amount of Canadian good while they’re at it. Here is the who and what behind the other organizations they work with:
Second Harvest Food rescue
Global thought leader fighting waste and hunger as the second-largest food rescuer in Canada.
Common Good Beer Company
A brewery/contract brewery that works to ensure we all stay stronger together.
Bob’s Your Uncle
An advertising agency for thoughtful food, beverage, and lifestyle brands.
Prairie Boy Bread
A baker focused on bringing people closer to agriculture, food, sharing, and knowledge.
My Brother Darryl
Self-proclaimed digital baristas meeting all development needs.
Canada’s top OOH (Out-Of-Home) advertising company.
When you combine these versatile partnerships, nearly out-of-date bread, hops, and good clean water, you get what makes Been A Slice so great. They brew the beer, distribute it, and give the proceeds to Second Harvest. This ensures that food waste and hunger issues continue to be managed and addresses with a big reach. According to a release mentioned by Forbes, “Second Harvest has rescued more than 127 million pounds of edible food – mostly protein, dairy and produce – bound for landfills since it was established in 1985.”
Check out our Rubicon Town Haul podcast episode with Toast Ale’s Louisa Ziane.
Though its name might focus on the smallest part of the bread-to-beer equation, Crumbs Brewing is a big picture organization when it comes to eliminating food waste while bolstering the local economy. They do this by focusing on doing good before focusing on their bottom line—and it seems like they are having a lot of fun in the process.
Crumbs Brewing has partnered with a local bakery to create a full palette of bread-waste-inspired beers. From the loaves they acquire from Chalk Hills Bakery, Crumbs creates bread-specific beer such as their Sourdough Pale Ale, Rye Ruby Ale, and Bloomin’ Amber Lager. They figure that fighting food waste should be as tasty as possible (we agree).
The Crumbs process of brewing is an interesting one. Simply adding bread into a mix isn’t enough to make a beer. While it seems like the bread would be used for the yeast in brewing, it actually replaces a large portion of the malts used in Crumbs’ batches (just about one quarter).
These breadcrumbs are critical in the process because of the form of starch they contribute. Without that starch, there would be no breakdown into sugar, no fermentation, and no beer!
Crumbs is very proud to be a local brewer—a love that is summed up by “Head Crumber,” Morgan Arnell. “I’ve lived and raised a family in Reigate for the last 12 years,” said Arnell. “I love our community and the variety of local artisan food and drink on our doorstep.
I’ve always enjoyed Chalk Hills bread and it’s great that Crumbs Brewing will mean less of their delicious product will go to waste. Crumbs Amber is just the beginning, there are so many great artisan products going to waste every day that we would love to repurpose into new pleasures!”
Editor’s note: References made to businesses/companies in this post are not meant to convey affiliation or endorsement of Rubicon by those companies in any way.
Want to learn more about how to reduce food waste? Click here!