Turning bread into beer and beer into bread – using kiwi innovation to reduce food waste.

Turning bread into beer and beer into bread – using kiwi innovation to reduce food waste.

Donald Shepherd is a man on a mission. His mission to upcycle food which would otherwise be wasted and turn it into artisan food and drink.

Several years ago whilst living the UK Donald became aware of the huge amount of bread that is wasted every year. Supermarkets only sell day old bread and at the end of every night there are always loaves left unsold. In some cases there is so much bread left unsold that even food rescue groups are unable to take it and redistribute it quickly enough. Whilst this unsold bread can end up in stock feed, Donald was determined to feed people first and wondered if there was an opportunity to upcycle the bread.

Donald had heard about a craft beer called Toast Ale which used bread that would have otherwise gone to waste to make beer.

Making beer requires a process called ‘malting’ a grain (often barley), which means soaking it, so it germinates, then gently cooking it. The malted barley is then mashed to extract the protein, sugar and nutrients, leaving behind the mashed grains –  often called ‘spent grain’ as it’s been used.

Approximately one-quarter of the malted barley can be replaced with rescued fresh bread when brewing beer. Bread is packed with carbohydrates, which are broken down to simple sugars in the barley. Add hops for aroma and bitterness, and to help preserve the beer, then yeast converts the sugars to alcohol during fermentation.

Returning to New Zealand Donald recruited the help of some passionate experts including; Mike Sutherland from Sawmill Brewery, Andrew Fearnside from Wild Wheat Bakery and  Chef Ben Bayly to make this happen. A year of experimenting and tasting has seen the launch of Citizen Beer which is made from rescued bread.

Donald and the team at Citizen were also intrigued by the potential uses from the leftover spent grains from brewing. They have been able to repurpose the spent grains, into a highly nutritious spent-grain flour. It’s high in fibre, protein and antioxidants, not to mention rather malty in flavour. So Citizen can turn waste bread into beer, and their spent grains from beer brewing can be turned back into bread!

“At Citizen we’re as serious about creating delicious food and drink as we are about reducing food waste.  The spent grains add a caramelly flavour to our sourdough bread, and I can assure you we took the beer tasting very seriously as well.” says Donald. “We believe in valuing and respecting food and the work and effort that has gone into producing it. So where some see waste we saw an opportunity.”  Using surplus bread to brew beer also saves energy, water and reduces carbon emissions and they hope to be carbon neutral by 2022.

Reaction from the public so far has been positive with five months stock of beer sold in about two weeks through Farro.

Purchase bread from Farro  and the Wild Wheat Stores in Auckland. Buy the beer from Farro and selected New World, Pak n Save, Four Square and Liquorland stores throughout NZ from August onwards.