Turning bread into beer to tackle food waste and child food poverty pint by pint

Thursday, 28 November 2019

A team of student entrepreneurs from The University of Nottingham are using their loaf to transform surplus fresh bread into beer to tackle food waste and child food poverty one pint at a time. 

Every day, a staggering one million unsold loaves of bread are thrown away in the UK, while an estimated 38 per cent of children in Nottingham are living in poverty. 

The Bread Brew’d Project will work with local brewing companies to upcycle leftover loaves donated by supermarkets, bakeries and local businesses into a range of tasty craft ales that will be sold in pubs around Nottingham, with all profits being ploughed back into initiatives promoting good health and wellbeing for city children. 

And their first beer, Bakers Pale Ale, which has been developed in collaboration with the Magpie Brewery will be unveiled at a special launch party at The Crafty Crow on Friar Lane in Nottingham on Friday 29 November from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Every day across the UK vast amounts of surplus food essentially ends up in the bin, while many children are still going to school on an empty stomach. We want to harness the power of craft beer to not only tackle food waste but to target child food poverty. We are particularly passionate about that because we believe this issue lies at the heart of social mobility – children who don’t have enough to eat find it difficult to concentrate in the classroom, which can hold them back in their studies and prevent them from fulfilling their true potential.
Andrei Smirnov, The Bread Brew'd Project

Andrei and his Bread Brew’d Project co-founder Hamish Barguss-Smith are part of the not-for-profit, student-led organisation Enactus Nottingham, based at the university, which works to transform the lives of people in need through the power of business. It does this by setting up social enterprises that provide employment and their by-product does both social and environmental good. 

Andrei and Hamish were previously involved in Nottingham’s first social supermarket Foodprint in Sneinton, launched by Nottingham Enactus in 2017, which takes surplus food which would otherwise go to waste from supermarkets and sells it at a greatly reduced price, giving people access to affordable, nutritious food. 

Hamish is studying business management, while Andrei is a human geography student, meaning the pair have just the right mix of skills for the project which has both environmental and social sustainability at its heart. 

Earlier this year, the Nottingham Enactus team was crowned Enactus UK Champions and it was in September while representing the UK in the Enactus World Cup in Silicon Valley, that the pair hit on the idea of their innovative brewing project after speaking to the Canadian team about a similar venture. 

Andrei added: “They were using surplus bread in brewing to reduce food waste which we found fascinating, but we decided if we were to give it a go we wanted to take it a step further and use the profits to support initiatives reducing child food poverty in the city.” 

The pair decided to join forces with Magpie Brewery as the company’s commitment to sustainability chimed with the ethos of their initiative – the brewery recycles water to wash its casks, provides waste malt to feed local farms, composts its hops to feed its home-grown hops and only uses green energy to power its brewkit. 

Beer is an excellent way of preserving the calorific content of bread and significantly extending its life. It replaces 40 per cent of the malt typically used – reducing agricultural impact and CO2 emissions – and helps hop utilisation. 

Following its launch on Friday night, their Bakers Pale Ale will also be sold at a number of other pubs including in the region including Nottingham’s Crafty Crow, Kean’s Head, Barrel Drop, Six Barrel Drafthouse and Doctor’s Orders, Smithfield in Derby, The Poppy & Pint in West Bridgford, The Lion at Basford and Mooch on University Park Campus. 

We are proud to be the first brewery to kick-start the project, as we also care passionately about food waste.It’s been a real challenge for our brewer, Sam, to incorporate bread into the brew, but he’s done an amazing job and we are really excited for the launch on Friday. Almost half the barrels have been pre-sold already, so everyone is clearly loving the concept and what a great way of helping to tackle child poverty – I’ll drink to that!
Gary Ashworth, Sales Manager at Magpie Brewery

The profits will be ploughed into an initiative run by Foodprint to support school breakfast clubs in Nottingham and there are plans in place to partner with Hucknall’s award-winning micro-brewery Lincoln Green in December. 

Tickets for Friday night’s launch, which also features a pub quiz, can be bought on the door or in advance via the project’s Facebook page   

Story credits

More information is available from Andrei Smirnov at the Bread Brew’d Project by email at

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