Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine
Brussels Beer Project Babylone
Babylone is partly inspired by the ancient tradition of using bread to produce beer. However, Brussels Beer Project also brews it to help reduce food waste and support the creation of a circular, participative economy.
Brewing it since 2015, the brewery works with local Delhaize supermarkets to source unsold bread. The bread goes to a Brussels nonprofit called Groot Eiland, which employs people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who then process it into dried crumbs. It then goes to the Anders brewery near Hasselt, Belgium, where Brussels Beer Project currently contract-brews the Babylone brand.
The brewery uses about 6 kg (13.2 lb) of dried bread per hectoliter—bearing in mind that the drying process has cut that weight in half. That’s roughly equivalent to about 16 pounds of dried crumbs per barrel, or about 2.5 lb per 5-gallon batch (1.1 kg per 19 liters). If you use fresh (undried) bread, consider doubling that weight.
Brussels Beer Project estimates that Babylone saves about 12 metric tons of fresh bread from being tossed each year. Its goal is to increase that to 100 tons per year by 2024—which will be possible after its new, larger brewhouse goes online later this year.
“For the homebrew recipe, I’ve dialed down the bread part, as it can get very sticky very quickly,” says head brewer Sam Fleet. “But totally encourage readers to use this only as a guide—and to experiment to their hearts’ content.”
Batch size: 5.3 gallons (20 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%
9.4 lb (4.3 kg) pale ale malt 2.3 lb (1 kg) dried bread
1 lb (454 g) rice hulls
14 oz (397 g) amber malt 9 oz (255 g) caaramel 50L 5 oz (142 g) Weyermann Caraaroma
2 oz (57 g) roasted barley
1.2 oz (34 g) East Kent Goldings at 90 minutes [19 IBUS] 1.4 oz (40 g) East Kent Goldings at 20 minutes
1.7 oz (48 g) Columbus at
whirlpool [20 IBUS]
0.8 oz (23 g) Crystal at
whirlpool [3 IBUS] 1.4 oz (40 g) Chinook at
dry hop 1.4 oz (40 g) Columbus at
Safale US-05 American Ale, or similar
Before brewing, dry and crush your bread—you can lightly toast it, dehydrate it, whatever works for you. Mill the grains and conduct a multistep mash: 131°F (55°C) for 5 minutes; 154°F (68°C) for 50 minutes; 162°F (72°C) for 15 minutes; and then to 172°F (78°C) for mash out. Alternatively, try a single-infusion mash at 151°F (66°C) for 75 minutes. Lauter, sparge, and top up as necessary to get about 6.5 gallons (25 liters) of wort—or more, depending on your evaporation rate. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to the schedule. After the boil, stir for 10 minutes to conduct a whirlpool, add the whirlpool hops, then allow it to settle and steep for 20 minutes. Chill to 68°F (20°C), aerate well, and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 70°F (21°C). When fermentation is almost complete, add the dry hops for a few days. Then cold crash, package, and carbonate.
Do what works for you and your system for a clean, highly attenuating, diacetyl-free fermentation profile with US-05. Bread, hops, and bitterness are the stars here.