UK brewer unites beer and bread in one of the world’s great pairings

Foamy pint glass of beer surrounded by pretzels
Image: Roman Larin / EyeEm (Getty Images)

Some things seem ordained by God himself. Chocolate and pretzels. Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. My ongoing feud with the Walgreens pharmacist who seems skeptical of my asthma. (Screw you, Matthew!) Now, thanks to a recent spotlight in the Independent Tribune, we’re aware of one London-based brewer who is taking advantage of the most natural pairing in the world: bread and beer.

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According to the Tribune, Toast Ale uses upcycled bread (approximately one slice per pint) to replace a third of the malted barley typically used in beer production. That lowers the brewery’s emissions and reduces demand for land, water, and energy. The process also saves surplus bread from the landfill and celebrates the yeasty efforts of local bakers. According to Toast’s website, the brewery uses the unwanted heel end of loaves that are baked for supermarket sandwiches, hustling bread from nearby bakeries and sandwich makers.

Chief Operating Officer Louisa Ziane explained in the article that the bread-brewing technique is nothing new; in fact, it’s based on an age-old brewing method with roots in Mesopotamia. “The ancient Babylonians used to create a divine drink that was made by fermenting bread,” Ziane said. “It wasn’t beer as we know it today—it was probably more like an alcoholic porridge—but the principal idea of fermenting a grain in order to preserve the nutrients and create this additional intoxicating effect was the very origin of brewing.”

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Although the brewery collaborates with brewers all over the world, its core operations are based in London. Toast’s website explains that, while the brewery does ship brews all over the UK, it doesn’t export its beers given the environmental impact of worldwide shipping. If you’re intrigued by this holy pairing, you can join the brewery’s Homebrew Club to score its at-home bread beer recipe.

Staff writer @ The Takeout. Pork shoulder princess @ Chicago.

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