New York City is providing leftover bread to the brewer.
toast ale recycled beer
Credit: © Toast Ale Ltd

Every effort to fight the massive global food waste problem is important, but turning this potential waste into beer may be the most fun. We’ve seen plenty of examples of this trend in recent years: The Brussels Beer Projects makes beer out of excess bread loaves its collects from local markets; England’s Northern Monk Brewery released a farmhouse ale made from overripe pears and stale pastries; even Mario Batali and Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione whipped up a delicious brew using unsellable produce from Eataly Chicago. Last year, London-based anti-food waste advocate Tristram Stuart joined in on the fun, launching Toast Ale— beers made from surplus bread. The ongoing project has proven to be so popular in his native UK that he’s brought this unique beer brand to the United States, hoping to fight food waste across the pond as well.

Toast Ale made its American-brewed debut this past weekend where it was sampled, fittingly, at a screening of the documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste at the Tribeca Film Festival. This initial test batch was brewed in March at Chelsea Craft Brewing Company in New York City (formerly in Manhattan, now in the Bronx). The resulting beer, an American Pale Ale, was made in part from 250 pounds of leftover sliced sandwich bread from Aladdin Bakers in Brooklyn.

From here, Toast hopes to continue to put a dent in what the brand says is the “over 1/3 of fresh bread in the U.S. [that] goes straight from oven to landfill.” The brand wants to have full-scale production up-and-running at the Chelsea Brewery by July 4 to fill an order from Whole Foods and begin supplying bars and restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens starting this summer. To help with that goal, Toast has launched in Indiegogo campaign hoping to raise $35,000, with backers able to get perks like t-shirts, beer glasses, waste-fighting food baskets and tickets to the Toast Can Release Party.

Stuart told the New York Times that a crowdfunding campaign is beneficial because Toast has yet to turn a profit; however, assuming it does (and he thinks it should starting this year) all profits will go to Feedback, his non-profit that, of course, fights food waste. That means every Toasted Ale bought will be doing double duty to fight the food waste problem—salvaging bread and raising money, not to mention raising awareness as well. As if you need an excuse to have another beer.