Pale & Interesting
Brewing beer while helping to fight food waste are not two of the most obvious bedfellows, but that’s exactly what Dalston-based Toast Ale does, using fresh, surplus bread to create a delicious, caramelly brew. We speak to Rob Wilson, the company’s chief toaster, on marrying up two of his biggest passions
“I would describe my job not just as a win win, but a win, win, win, win. Firstly, we are producing a really great beer. When you’re creating a really brilliant product that everyone loves that’s awesome. Secondly, we are directly tackling food waste, a really significant problem of our time, by using the crusts of loaves that sandwich manufacturers automatically throw away. Thirdly, we are helping to raise awareness of the issue of food waste, by getting people sitting around in a bar with their mates with a beer in front of them that’s provoking conversation. Fourthly, all our profits are ploughed into an amazing charity called Feedback that is trying to tackle food waste at a systemic level. No wonder I love my job. I’m always boring my friends senseless, going on about how much I love it.
“I guess my interest in food waste was first sparked as a child (my love of beer came a little later). I grew up in Kent, where my dad and granddad were in the fruit and vegetable business. I saw first hand what a bonkers industry it is, with half the apples in the orchard left to rot because of being the wrong shape or size. I went on to work in an advisory capacity for sustainable food brand Rubies in the Rubble and FoodCycle that uses surplus food to create meals for vulnerable people. So when the idea for Toast was being bandied about 18 months back, I knew I had to be involved.
“We’ve had an incredible first few years and 2018 is already absolutely crazy. We’ve just launched a big crowd funding campaign to raise cash to develop two new beers, and we’re developing the brand internationally. In fact, we’ve just had our first brew in Iceland. We’re franchising the recipe and the concept so that the beer can be brewed and distributed in other countries. All being well it will be South Africa next, followed shortly afterwards by New York. Oh, did I mention how much I love my job!”