From bread to beer, how a Calgary charity deals with extra dough
Leftovers Foundation gives surplus bread to brewery, which will craft new brew
Calgary-based Leftovers Foundation is dealing with a surplus of donated bread, so it's found a local brewery that plans to add it to a new, bread-based brew and return some of the profits to the charity.
Lourdes Juan is grateful for all of the donated food her foundation receives, but there's a bit of a problem with some of the sourdough bread it receives from local bakeries.
Some homeless clients can't eat it because of dental issues, so Juan came up with an idea after hearing about a brewery in the U.K. that was turning toasted bread into beer.
"Their clients couldn't actually bite into the bread because of myriad dental health issues, so it's just a tough product to donate," Juan said.
"The idea of bread beer came about," she said. "I thought, let's put it out to the very vibrant microbrewery community of Calgary to see if anyone had an appetite for it."
Juan recently received a bag of lightly toasted bread from one of the donors, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery in the East Village. She then dropped it off at Cold Garden brewery in Inglewood. The brewery plans to add the bread to one its most popular and "weird" brews, dubbed Cake Face.
"It is an ale, but it has a ton of vanilla in it. It's meant to taste like a vanilla birthday cake, so it already has a lot of caramel flavour, a lot of toasted flavours. We think when we add the sourdough or the toasted malt back into grain, it will really pull out the flavour of that bread," said Cold Garden's Jenn Chandler.
The brewery already adds cucumbers and Skittles, a brand of fruit-flavoured candie, to some of its brews. So, why not sourdough bread?
"I think it's pretty cool. Bread is made out of grain, which is obviously the same ingredient that beer is made out of. So to be able to recycle and create different flavours and reuse ingredients is interesting," Chandler said.
Chandler said Cold Garden finds the idea of food reuse and recycling very appealing. The brewery already donates some of its spent grain from the brewing process to a local restaurant and bakery, which use it to bake bread. Some of the mash is used as feed for local livestock.
"It's like the circle of bread life," she said, laughing.
"They say beer is liquid bread," said Aviv Fried, the owner of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.
He also loves the idea of trying to reduce food waste — particularly his specialty loaves of bread.
"I hate wasting bread so much, it's just killing me," said Fried. "We all share in the same resources. Our leftovers can be used to do other stuff.".
Fried said they use local flours, one of which is a heritage wheat that he said has a little sweetness to it.
"I'm hoping that that will come out in the beer," said Fried.
Juan founded the Leftovers Foundation in 2012. She "rescues" perishable food from restaurants, cafes, bakeries and grocery stores and donates the food to local shelters and other agencies. The foundation recently received charitable status.
It's not known exactly when the new beer will be ready, but Chandler hopes it'll be sometime between Christmas and New Year. They're aiming for 20 kegs with this inaugural batch, which will be available at its Inglewood location and possibly a few "one-off" restaurants and bars in the city.
Juan said a portion of the sales from the beer will be donated to her foundation.
"I think we have to be creative in how we repurpose food," said Juan.
"It's a great way for us to diversify our income as a non-profit organization and make sure we have a sustainable financial model," she said.