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Recipe: Brussels Beer Project Babylone

This “bread IPA,” with a profile like a big, bitter British ESB, gets extra character and body from the addition of crusty, unsold loaves from Brussels supermarkets—promoting a less wasteful economy while suggesting new avenues for flavor experimentation.

Joe Stange Jul 2, 2021 - 4 min read

Recipe: Brussels Beer Project Babylone Primary Image

Brussels Beer Project brews its Babylone from unsold bread—and later, its spent grains go to make more bread. Photo: Courtesy Brussels Beer Project.

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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—planned for 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.”

For more advice on using this unusual but highly beer-friendly adjunct, see Special Ingredient: Brewing with Bread.


Batch size: 5.3 gallons (20 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.012
IBUs: 55
ABV: 7%

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