Brewerkz and Baker & Cook have teamed up to launch a new beer and sourdough bread made from recycled materials from each firm.
“Even before the pandemic, sustainability was always on our radar. I’ve been very interested in overseas craft breweries doing sourdough upcycling, but I haven’t found anyone in Singapore that focuses on this. When the Brewerkz expressed interest in expanding their portfolio of sustainable products and approached us, it was perfect.”Dean Brettschneider, founder of Baker & Cook, said FoodNavigator-Asia.
According to Tan Wee Tuck, co-owner and CEO of Brewerkz, the plan was to create a sustainable beer with surplus bread while also finding a partner to use the company’s stills, called NEWGrain+, for food products.
While food upcycling has “been happening for a long time” in Germany and is gaining popularity in the US and Europe, Brettschneider believes it’s still a relatively niche sector in Asia and collaboration is key to making it mainstream.
“In a sense, it doesn’t cost us anything to thresh, and it doesn’t cost us Brewerkz our leaven. The collaboration allows us to use each other’s by-products, which would otherwise be recyclable materials waiting to be noticed. By combining two reasonably strong brands, there will be a lot more attention (on them).” he added.
Brettschneider sees Singapore as an ideal market for the launch, as local consumers are naturally more open to new and foreign foods due to the country’s multiculturalism.
“We have to start somewhere.” I think Singapore is not as niche as other South East Asia (SEA) markets. I’m sure other countries will be looking at what we’re doing, especially in SEA. With the explosion of coffee shops and craft breweries in the region, small businesses need to work together to follow in our footsteps.
“If it can be done on this small island, it can be done in places like Indonesia, Jakarta or Bangkok, where there are a number of artisans and smaller producers who want to do something about food waste.” Brettschneider shared.
On the same note, Tan said there is “a huge amount of work” to be done in terms of upcycling.
“F&B producers have not started seriously on food waste and upcycling. Sometimes we need to lead consumers (in offering more sustainable products) and not wait for consumers to lead us. Upcycled food will be a major trend in the next few years. There is too much food loss and waste around the world. If we can focus on plastic bags, we can definitely work on food upcycling.”
Earthbrew Sourdough Pale Ale is brewed with excess sourdough bread from Baker & Cook, and NEWGrain+ Sourdough is made using a brewer’s malt from Brewerkz.
It took several rounds of trial and error before the companies finalized the products. In particular, the amount of mash in the sourdough was increased from 10% to 20% and finally to 30% during the research and development process.
“We wanted people to get some fiber content out of it. What you see today has a lot of fiber in it and is not too dry with a crunchy texture. We have a whole range of breads, but consumers are realizing that NEWGrain+ sourdough is not just a nicely flavored loaf of bread.
“People who care about food waste collect it and love what we do. Plus, they get more functional benefits than, say, a cinnamon raisin loaf.”Brettschneider explained.
Tan shared this sentiment, adding that sustainability is becoming an important differentiator as many products on the market taste good and are competitively priced.
The beer is available in 330ml cans and on draft at Brewerkz and Baker & Cook Dempsey restaurants, while the brew is sold at Baker & Cook stores and on its website, as well as delivery platforms.
Both companies hope to incorporate the products into their permanent portfolio and expand distribution channels over time.
Baker & Cook plans to add NEWGrain+ Sourdough to its range of sliced breads, which have been sold in supermarkets and e-commerce platforms such as RedMart for several years.
“We are working on stocking it FairPrice and Cold Storage over the next three or four months so it can reach more people outside of our bakeries. I believe they will be quite happy (to have us) because if anyone cares about food waste, it should be the supermarket.” Brettschneider said.