Bread and beer are almost the same things. They are both the result of mixing grains with water and getting some yeast to consume the sugar that comes from the mixing process. In exchange for a small amount of sugar, bakers yeast gives the baker some carbon dioxide which makes the bread light and airy and very palatable. This light, airy bread has one limitation; it goes stale quickly, and its deliciousness is replaced with a dull dryness within a couple of days, this means there is a lot of wasted bread in the world. The smell of freshly baked bread is one of life’s great joys, it is the scent of impending satisfaction. On the day we arrived to put our first brew on in a Longford Industrial estate back in 2014 we discovered that our nearest neighbour was a large bakery called Panelto foods and the scent of impending satisfaction wafted all around us…
Brewers are much more generous than their baking colleagues and provide their yeasts with an abundance of sugars. The yeast returns the favour by giving us back carbon dioxide and alcohol, making our products long-lasting and delicious. Also, brewers do not fully utilise every part of the grain, bakers do. Brewers are left with a waste product called brewers spent grains.
Towards the end of 2019, we were approached by Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) with an idea. IMR are a government-sponsored initiative that supports the Irish Manufacturing Sector to adopt cutting edge technologies to retain a competitive edge in a globalised environment. One of their big passions is the circular economy which is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste. This is a hot topic everywhere as countries attempt to reduce the negative impact of the way we do things on the planet. IMRs idea was for us to trial using Paneltos waste bread in our beer recipes. Bread is rich in starch, and brewing is the process of turning starch into an abundance of sugars for our yeast so that it can make beer for us. This idea makes a lot of sense on paper. Then Panelto had an idea. Our spent grain has a lot of stuff in it that we don’t use, but they do. Maybe they could make bread from our spent grain, the spent grain which is partially made from their waste bread? If all of that can be done, we would have a closed loop with all kinds of benefits for us and our neighbours in terms of cost base reductions, waste reduction and increased sustainability. A recent Irish Times article on this process can be found here.
We have conducted several trail brews over recent months, and results have been more than positive. We have trialled different breads in different brews and assessed the results for taste and efficiency. This is a very exciting and challenging project for us; we are about halfway through the journey, and it’s throwing up new possibilities all the time. Watch this space for more news; our next milestone is a big one. Beer made from bread!