This British Retail Giant Is Turning Sandwiches Into Beer
Plus five more ways brewers are turning food waste into new brews.
All efforts to reduce food waste are beneficial in their own right, but some are definitely more fun than others… like turning food waste into beer. A number of brands and brewers have found ways to repurpose leftovers that would have ended up in a landfill into something you can use to liven up your weekend. And now, one of the U.K.’s best-known retailers is getting in on the trend: Marks & Spencer (a bit like a Macy’s with food or a slightly more upmarket Target) has teamed up with the British brewery Adnams to create a line of beer made from the discarded bread crusts from the retailer’s sandwiches.
The Adnams Used Our Loaf line of beers made with Marks & Spencer’s bread waste is being sold, fittingly, exclusively at Marks & Spencer in three varieties: Triple English Hop Southwold Pale Ale, Early Grey Pale Ale, and Raspberry Fruit Beer. According to the brewery, the first batch used over three-quarters of a ton of surplus bread that was then mixed with three times as much barley, meaning that each beer is about a quarter salvaged bread waste.
And Marks & Spencer and Adnams’ sustainability efforts don’t end once the beer is done brewing. The companies say that all the spent grains leftover after the brewing process are then sent to farms to be used as animal feed, meaning none of the grains are ever completely disposed of.
Interestingly, the Adnams and Marks & Spencer’s team specifically stated that they were “inspired by the brilliant work by Toast Ale,” which is one of the early pioneers of the food waste-to-beer movement. Here is a list of some of the best-known names in that group…
- Toast Ale: Probably the biggest name in the no-waste beer game, Toast—which sources local excess bread destined for the trash—is now available on both sides of the pond and is sold in a range of styles from lager to IPA.
- Brussels Beer Project Babylone: First launched in 2015, Babylone (a 7-percent ABV “Bread Bitter”) was a trailblazer, billing itself as the “first beer brewed with recycled bread.”
- Dogfish Head WasteNot: An early high-profile food waste beer, WasteNot was a collaboration with Eataly Chicago, utilizing unsellable produce like overripe tomatoes, rotten grapefruit, ugli fruit, stale bread and Demerara sugar to create a beer in the “pruno” (aka “prison wine”) style.
- Northern Monk Wasted: This Leeds, England-based brewer made Wasted—a pear farmhouse ale billed as the “world’s first zero waste beer”—from overripe pears and stale croissants and brioche destined to be discarded.
- 412 Food Rescue Loaf: In 2016, this Pittsburgh charity got into the beer game with the release of Loaf by saving 200 leftover loaves of bread from a local bakery and putting them in the hands of a nearby brewery.