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Why throw out old bread out when you could turn it into beer? That’s the thinking behind Loaf, a new fundraiser meant to address the issue of rampant food waste.

Created by 412 Food Rescue co-founder Leah Lizarondo, Loaf combines her passion for food recovery with the brewing skills of Scott Smith, owner of the East End Brewing Company.

“We have a lot of wasted bread, to the point where, even though we work with 200 nonprofits, they can’t take all the bread we gather on a daily basis,” says Lizarondo, whose organization gets bread from bakeries and grocery stores all over Allegheny County. “We decided that we would put it to good use by turning it into beer.”

She and Smith are working to turn unsellable loaves from the Squirrel Hill-based bakery Five Points Artisan Bakeshop into tasty brews that they can then sell and revert the profits back to 412 Food Rescue’s operations.

Smith has experimented with making beer from bread before and explains that the process has a long tradition in Russia. “Making beer from bread is something that’s been happening for centuries on a household basis,” says Smith. “But beer is maybe a generous term for what was being produced in that sense. It was more of a barely fermented liquid.”

Many variables are at play in determining how the Loaf beer will taste, he says, including what kind of yeast they use and what kind of bread they receive from Five Points. He and his team will need to mix in traditional brewing grains so the starch in the bread can convert to sugar that they can then ferment.

“There will be notes of bread to it, but it’s going to resemble beer more,” says Smith, adding that it will be on the lighter side in terms of body.

Scott Smith of East End Brewing Company. Photo by Brian Cohen.

The brewing process will take 14 to 21 days, depending on how well everything works out. Once done, the batch will be split into 200 shares, each one containing four growlers of beer. The shares will then sell for a $100 each through a link on 412 Food Rescue’s website.

Lizarondo believes Loaf could show people the potential of giving new life to unwanted food.

“It’s a great advocacy tool, while at the same time being a very functional tool because we are saving bread from going to landfills,” says Lizarondo.

Depending on the project’s success, she and Smith could see Loaf continuing and expanding to include other area bakeries.

“This is our dip into the pool to see what the interest level is,” says Smith.

While details on Loaf’s official launch are still scant, Smith and Lizarondo are shooting for sometime in November. Check back for updates.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...