Toast Ale: The Side Hustle Case Study Series

4 min read
Thomas Costello

You might not be able to turn bread into wine, but you can turn it into beer. Sure, this might sound far-fetched, but the side hustler sees opportunities in all areas of life. Just ask the award-winning beer company, Toast Ale.

The success Toast Ale enjoys today took a while to brew. Toast Ale was founded by Tristram Stuart, a campaigner on the environmental and social impacts of our food system. Tristram had a passion. That passion was to end food waste.

The side hustle vision is 20/20 and, where most of us would simply see bins full of bread, Toast Ale saw an opportunity. Sandwich makers, for instance, discard the heel and first slice of every loaf because we don’t buy sandwiches made with crusts. Likewise, in our homes, we waste almost 900,000 tonnes every year. Unless you’re feeding it to ducks, that much wasted bread - it’s for the birds.

Tristram had other ideas. With the craft ale industry positively bubbling, why not turn the surplus waste into sustainably brewed craft beer! And, given that all profits go to the charity Feedback to help end food waste, you could say Toast Ale is the best thing since, well, you know…

Raising a glass to the graft behind the craft

Since its inception, Toast Ale has been busy turning bread surplus into an exciting range of tasty and tastefully branded craft beers. When you consider 44% of the bread produced in the UK is never consumed, it’s fair to say the idea was sure to be a breadwinner.

Rob Wilson, who had been advising the company since late 2015, came on board, full time, in 2017. Now named Toast Ale’s Chief Toaster, Rob proved key to the company’s growth in the craft ale market.

“Prior to Toast, I led a brilliant organisation called Ashoka,” he recalls. “Ashoka supports a global network of social entrepreneurs to scale their system changing enterprises – including Toast’s founder Tristram Stuart, which is of course how I came to know about Toast. I’m also a serial social entrepreneur myself having founded quite a number of social change organisations over the past 15 years.”

Striking the work-life balance is always tricky, as Rob acknowledges. “I have a wife and two children, so balancing things became really important to me. For the same reasons, having a fixed income was as well. Once my Side Hustle had its funding and had started to bring in the income, I knew I could take a full-time role in the business.”

As with most successful business, Toast Ale was built on a passion. The company’s four founding principles remain true today:

  1. To produce great craft beer that consumers love.
  2. To eliminate bread waste directly through brewing.
  3. To raise awareness of the problems of, and solutions to, food waste.
  4. To maximise profits to donate to Feedback and international food waste organisations.

A way of life, not work

Toast Ale now employs a large team based right around the UK, whilst helping to reduce food waste. The journey to success was supported by GoDaddy, as Rob explains: “We wanted to launch but we didn’t have any working capital, and we didn’t have the cash flow.

“We looked at a crowdfunding campaign where we would basically pre-sell the beers. We were lucky enough to get funding support from GoDaddy to kick it off. The extra support really gave us the incentive to get going and it was an amazing success.”

Toast is now stocked in Tesco and other large retailers, as they continue to go from strength to strength. We’ll drink to that!

Follow Toast Ale on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

GoDaddy Side Hustle Report

Toast Ale and Rob Wilson features in research released by GoDaddy and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) which reveals that side hustling is a growing trend in the UK. The number of side hustlers – individuals who run their own businesses on top of their day job – has risen by 32% in the last decade.

Check it out here: