Babylone is the name of a beer created by Brussels Beer Project that is brewed with bread that would otherwise be thrown away.
The innovative craft brewery in Brussels, which produces around 20 beers each year, is the brain child of Sébastien Morvan and Olivier de Brauwere.
They have created the first beer of its kind using unsold bread that would otherwise go to waste. The beer takes us “back to the future” as the brewery says and is the perfect example of how to move from words to action when it comes to tackling the issue of food waste.
Now, after interest from Jamie Oliver who featured the beer on his programme on Channel 4, the recipe of the Brussels based micro-brewery is also being made in London.
The two co-founders of the Brussels craft brewery were recently invited to London for the launch of Toast Ale, a beer that is based on Babylone’s recipe. The beer in London is brewed by Hackney Brewery and Tristram Stuart. The latter, a food waste activist, is the project leader. The London beer is endorsed by Jamie Oliver who first discovered the Brussels based beer when it was launched last year.
Morvan told Food and Wine Gazette that the beer was created as a way to tackle the issue of food waste. It came after Brussels based activist Ron Renaerts had told them that a study he had carried out had shown that bread in Brussels accounted for nearly 20 per cent of all food that was thrown away. “We were in a discussion with Renaerts about sustainability and after learning this we decided to take it forward by trying to create a beer as they used to make in the olden days in Babylon, Mesopotamia.”
The beer which has been in production for nearly a year is made thanks to the co-operation of a local association Groot Eiland which helps them to procure the unsold bread.
“The idea was to try and use bread as an integral ingredient of the beer as they used to do in the past. Unfortunately, bread is a huge problem when it comes to waste. Unsold bread accounts for the largest percentage of food that goes to waste. Every bakery, supermarket and household generates such waste,” Morvan said.
It took the micro-brewery a year to create the recipe for this “bread beer”. “We first needed to find the technique to be able to use the bread, find the right quantity that we needed to use and then create the recipe. We recruited a brewing specialist to help us with the recipe,”
Morvan told Food and Wine Gazette that this remains a niche beer. “Since we started making the beer a year ago, we have used 8 to 10 tonnes of bread which would otherwise have been thrown away.”
Asked if it is possible to completely eliminate bread from going to waste he said this was close to impossible but it was important to start slowly. “It still remains a small fraction of food waste but after the launch in London and a similar launch in France, we hope that at some point there is a beer like this in every city,” Morvan said.
Babylone was also presented at the Milan Expo last year. It is a niche beer with its own ‘character’ and is one that has enabled the brewery to reduce the amount of barley used in the brewing process.
The two co-founders recently won the title of ‘Bruxellois” of the year.
Don’t miss our interview with Sébastien Morvan, one of the founders of Brussels Beer Project in the coming days.