We drive to meet Vanesa in Audi's new Q2 compact SUV, ideal for the busy city streets. Parked up outside, we explore the microbrewery, which is among the first places in Britain to brew beer using waste fresh bread. It does this by following a recipe created by Toast Ale, a company seeking to eradicate bread waste through beer. It estimates that some 24 million slices of bread are thrown away each year in the UK.
Each bottle of Toast Ale, available online at alesbymail.co.uk or on tap in selected microbreweries, contains the equivalent of a slice of bread. 'The concept is simple,' explains Rob Wilson from Toast Ale. 'Brew a brilliant beer from bread that would otherwise go to waste – so very directly tackling food waste, while also communicating an important message about food waste to consumers.' More than this, profits from the beer business go to fund Feedback, a charity fighting global food waste. 'There's about a million tonnes of bread that is wasted each year worldwide,' adds Rob, 'and about a billion tonnes of food waste is created each year.'
By drinking Toast Ale you're helping to raise awareness of the problem – and to solve it. Having made 60,000 bottles of beer in the past year, the company's aim is 500,000 bottles next year, stopping half a million slices of bread going to landfill. Besides ambitions to be in a supermarket near you soon, Toast Ale is also launching in the US and Iceland in 2017. 'We're going to need to sell millions of bottles to eradicate bread waste,' says Rob.
Back at her brewery, Vanesa Le Blas is contemplating her third brew of Toast Ale. 'I want to make different versions of Toast,' she says. 'I think the next one is going to be brown Toast – a porter made with bread.'
Written by Alec Marsh. Photographs by Fred MacGregor.