Wait! Don't toss that bread! Let's make beer

In an effort to reduce landfill waste — and also brew a tasty beverage — a Vancouver Island project is using old bread to make beer.

Cowichan brewery creates a pale ale with landfill-destined bread

Small Block Brewery is using stale, donated bread to brew a successful beer. (John Stewart)

In an effort to reduce landfill waste, and also brew tasty beverages, a southern Vancouver Island project is using old bread to make beer.

"Doesn't really matter which continent you're on, there's a huge amount of bread being overproduced, and a lot of it ends up in a landfill," said John Stewart of Refresh Cowichan, a project of the Cowichan Green Community Society based in Duncan, B.C.

The non-profit organization focuses on environmental sustainability in the Cowichan Valley region and project members are always trying to find ways to cut down on waste, said Stewart.

The local food bank was receiving huge donations of bread, said Stewart, too much to distribute to hungry people before it went stale.

"It goes down smooth. And even though it's a pale ale, it doesn't have an overly hoppy flavour," says Refresh Cowichan member John Stewart. (John Stewart)

So Refresh Cowichan decided to give it to Small Block Brewery in Duncan. There, enzymes in the beer-making process convert starch in the bread into simple sugars which react with yeast to — ultimately — create ale.

"It's definitely been a popular item there. They've already sold over half a thousand litres in under a month," said Stewart.

Refresh Cowichan participants spend their days sorting through excess food from grocery stores, finding anything that can be donated to hungry people. They've now paired with a local bakery as well, allowing them to use their excess bread for the initiative.

The old bread is frozen and delivered to Small Block whenever they need it. Stewart said the process produces a unique flavour, complete with a rich brown colouring.

"It goes down smooth. And even though it's a pale ale, it doesn't have an overly hoppy flavour."

With files from All Points West