By Larraine Roulston:
As food waste is rapidly becoming a moral issue, creative solutions are emerging. Sending surplus bread to a brewery to make beer is how Leftovers Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Calgary, Alberta, is dealing with its excess sourdough bread donations.
This charitable organization rescues perishable foods from restaurants, grocers and bakeries for distribution to shelters and social agencies. Lourdes Juan, founder of the Leftovers Foundation, began seeing a surplus of the sourdough bread that several homeless clients were unable to eat due to dental issues. She recalled learning about a U.K. brewery that was creating beer from toasted bread.“I think we have to be creative in how we repurpose food,” said Juan. “The idea of bread beer came about. I thought, ‘Let’s put it out to the very vibrant micro-brewery community of Calgary to see if anyone had an appetite for it.’ ”
Juan discovered local microbrewery, Cold Golden Beverage Company. As this brewery was already experimenting with cucumbers and the fruity candy Skittles in creating some of its brews, she wondered if they would find her leftover sourdough bread appealing. They did and, in addition, the company offered to return some of the profits to Leftovers Foundation.
Cold Garden’s Jenn Chandler explains the process of one of the brewery’s popular yet “weird”creations they named Cakeface: “It is an ale, but it has a ton of vanilla in it. It’s meant to taste like a vanilla birthday cake, so it already has a lot of caramel flavour, a lot of toasted flavours. We think when we add the sourdough or the toasted milk back into grain, it will really pull out the flavour of that bread.” She added, “I think it’s pretty cool. Bread is made out of grain, which is obviously the same ingredient that beer is made out of. So to be able to recycle and create different flavours and reuse ingredients is interesting.”
“They say beer is liquid bread,” said Aviv Fried, owner of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, one of Leftovers Foundation donors. Fried loves the concept of reducing food waste as well … in particular, his specialty breads. “We all share the same resources. Our leftovers can be used to do other stuff.” As Sidewalk Citizen Bakery uses a local heritage wheat, he hopes that its sweetness will come out in the beer.
Cold Garden is a company that is in full support of food reuse and recycling. From its brewing process, it already was offering some of its spent grain to a nearby restaurant and bakery, which, in turn, is used to bake loaves of bread. As well, some of the brewery’s leftover mash is donated to farmers for livestock feed.
Chandler chuckled, “It’s like the circle of bread life.”