From bread to beer, how a Calgary charity deals with extra dough

Calgary-based Leftovers Foundation is dealing with a surplus of donated bread and has found a local brewery that will add it to a new, bread-based brew and return some of the sales to the charity.

Leftovers Foundation gives surplus bread to brewery, which will craft new brew

Sourdough bread from a Calgary bakery is being donated to a local brewery, which will craft a new bread-based beer. Some of the profits will be returned to the Leftovers Foundation, which distributes surplus food to shelters and other agencies. (Colin Hall/CBC)

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."

Lourdes Juan is the founder of the Leftovers Foundation, a charity that rescues food from various locations and donates it to local shelters and social agencies. (Colin Hall/CBC)

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?

Jenn Chandler takes care of sales and events for Cold Garden brewery in Inglewood. The brewery is going to add bread to one of its Cake Face beer. The beer should be ready before the end of the year. (Colin Hall/CBC)

"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.

Liquid bread

"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.

Aviv Fried is the owner of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, which is one of the donors to the Leftovers Foundation. (Colin Hall/CBC)

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.


Bryan Labby

Enterprise reporter

Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.