If your Twitter timeline is anything like mine then you can’t have escaped the launch of Toast Ale, a beer brewed with surplus bread by Hackney Brewery. With all profits going to Feedback, an environmental organisation that campaigns to end food waste, it’s a worthy cause. While beer and bread have much in common (grain, yeast and the fermentation process), I wondered how the two would work as a pairing, so yesterday I donned my apron, blew the dust from my recipe book and turned Absolute 80s up to 11. I always attempt to achieve the maximum return for the minimum effort, so naturally my go-to bread recipe is a simple one. To make it you’ll need the following:

  • 500 grams strong bread flour (I used stoneground wholemeal)
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sachet (7  grams) fast-action yeast
  • 7 grams fine sea-salt

To begin, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and create a well. Mix the oil and honey with the water then pour it into the bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Bring it together with your hands and knead for five minutes before placing in an oiled loaf tin and covering with clingfilm, then leave to prove for an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 180° (fan) and once the dough has proved, bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped (there’s no “knocking back” which makes for a rather dense bread that I actually like).

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Once my loaf had cooled, I sliced it and popped two rounds into the toaster, and selected my chosen toppings: honey on one, and M&S Brewer’s Paste on the other – you can see where I’m going with this, right? It was time to open the beer, which poured a deep straw colour with a distinctive caramel aroma. It was sweet to the taste, which accentuated the sweetness of the Brewers’s Paste while acting as a foil for its tangy spiciness. Success. I then moved on to the slice adorned with honey; despite fearing the combination would be overly sweet, it worked, with the sweetness of the beer and bread complementing each other and the bitterness from the hops providing balance and restraint. Toast Ale isn’t a beer I’d typically drink, but in this context it was an absolute joy, and given the worthy cause, had the added bonus of assuaging any guilt I may feel about my lack of social activism. As I said – maximum benefit for the minimum effort…

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I was sent four bottles of Toast Ale by the PR company Freuds, and don’t feel it affected my attitude towards the beer or the initiative. 

Sour power - an interview with Rudi Ghequire from Rodenbach Brewery
Small but perfectly formed - The London Beer House