In short: nothing like Mighty White, a lot like beer.
Toast Ale — which launched this week — is made by Hackney Brewery, with much of the usual barley malt replaced with toasted, crumbed bread sourced from local bakeries, delis and factories.
Why bread? These slices would otherwise get thrown away; 24 million slices of bread go to waste in the UK ever year. Tristram Stuart — the brains behind the brew, and founder of food waste charity Feedback — hopes his beer will dramatically reduce this shocking stat.
Bread beer is not a new concept — Stuart himself was inspired by a brewery making it in Belgium — but the notion of using waste bread (it's still fresh by the way) on such a huge scale is admirable, and something that we hope takes off in a big way.
Seasoned beer drinkers, however, will have one thing on their minds, and that's whether or not Toast tastes any good. We cracked open a couple of bottles to find out.
Though it sells itself as a real ale, Toast is inspired by a Belgian recipe, and there's a slight spiciness to it, which we like. It's packed with four types of hop; Hallertau (which lends it a bitter, almost toast-y taste) Cascade, Centennial, and Bramling Cross. But this is not your punchy hopped-to-the-gills craft brew — the hops are quite subtle, with a light body that one of our drinkers really went for, even though they're not big on beer.
The overriding flavour we got from Toast was malty. That'll be all the CaraMalt, Munich Malt and the sweetness of the bread. If you like malt, you should like this a lot.
Endorsements for the beer, from people like Jamie Oliver, have come in thick and fast. Overall our opinion is slightly more muted: Toast isn't exactly sparring partners with London's finest craft beers. As one drinking partner said "I'd get one in a night, but wouldn't order a second." It perhaps doesn't have the wow factor you'd hope for such an unusual recipe. But it is still a pretty decent drop and we'd order it again.
Here's the good news: Stuart is keen for brewers across London, the UK and the world to make their own beer from surplus bread (indeed as the launch last night, he was doling out instructions on how to make and adapt your own). This, we reckon will lead to all sorts of wild experimentation... a bread and butter pudding dessert beer, for instance, could work a treat.
So if Toast doesn't quite suit your palate, it's likely there'll soon be another bread beer that does. Or just make friends with your local baker and brew some yourself.