Sector: Agri-food, Sales and services
Date of creation: 2018
Date of analysis: July 2020
Project maturity: July posting strong growth
A bakery-brewery that values the co-products of bread and beer.
La Brewlangerie was founded by Romain, a baker by training, in January 2018. Romain began his project with a first activity: the making of bread by returning to the old and traditional methods.
Having worked for many years in major bakeries, Romain noticed several problems:
In order to rework with healthy raw material, solve the problem of wasting unsold goods and be able to work at hours that allow him to have free time, Romain decided to set up his own business. His decision was also triggered by the testimony of a baker, Daniel Testard, who, by reinventing the craft of baking, managed to find a harmonious balance between his profession and his personal life.
One year after the start of his project, Romain was joined by his partner Nicolas, who developed the brewing part of the business.
– Local flour less than 100 km from Toulouse
– Organic labelling: organic farming certification
– Natural sourdough made on site
– On order: no unsold breads
– Long-lasting bread (7 to 10 days): less waste
– In the future: sale of bulk products in their future store
– Unsold bread is incorporated to partially replace cereals in the brewing of beer.
– The dregs, brewing residues, are used in the making of one of La Brewlangerie’s breads by partially replacing the flour.
In this way, Romain created a virtuous production cycle!
Baker by training, Romain knows the workings of the trade very well. He has completed several internships in alternative bakeries to draw inspiration from their working methods. His desire was to create a bakery that would only make bread, without pastries or viennoiseries.
The bread is prepared the old-fashioned way: it is kneaded by hand and baked over a wood fire. All his breads are made with natural leaven and from old varieties of wheat, less rich in gluten and more nutritious, local and organic.
Among the 10 breads on offer, the Noga Dreche is made from the brewed grains from the Brewlangerie’s beers. This avoids throwing away this co-product and allows the company to valorise it directly within the company. The Brewlangerie also offers a seasonal bread, changed every 2 months (butternut-sunflower bread, beetroot-sesame, carrot-pavot, fig-hazelnut…). This is in line with its logic of always innovating and creating, while choosing healthy and seasonal products.
Romain makes 4 batches of bread per week. This desire not to develop too quickly allows him to develop the concept of his project more easily, while freeing himself some personal time.
At the beginning of his activity, Romain rented premises from a private individual who owned a wood-fired bakery. Since September 2019, he has moved to premises in Auch, 80 km from Toulouse, and makes the round trips to make his bread and then distribute it in Toulouse. Thanks to a fund raising by his crowdfunding, he hopes to be able to settle in his own premises in Toulouse by October 2020.
The bread is sold through two distribution channels: either by zero waste grocery stores, in bulk, AMAPs and La Ruche which says yes, or by online orders and delivery at a relay point. The customer base is therefore very local, in the surroundings of Toulouse.
From left to right: olive bread, old wheat bread 1kg, seed bread, sourdough bread 600g, chocolate bread
From left to right: spelt bread, old wheat bread 600g, grain bread, tomato bread, sourdough bread 1 kg
Before starting, Romain studied the solutions for valorizing unsold bread. Thus, he came up with the idea of brewing beer with this “waste”. Indeed, bread can partly replace cereals for brewing beer because it has the same enzymes, which play a role in the fermentation of beer. The residual from brewing the cereals, the spent grains are then used to make bread.
Thanks to the creation of a partnership with a grocery store, Romain met Nicolas, who was planning on becoming a brewer. They then decided to set up the project together and Nicolas joined the Brewlangerie in January 2019 to develop this activity.
The Brewlangerie offers 2 beers: a white and a blond. These are the MICH. Both beers are made from unsold bread. As the Brewlangerie currently works by order, it does not waste any bread made. The unsold bread used to make the beer comes from a Bio c’ Bon store, with which they have created a partnership. Once installed in their own premises in Toulouse, the unsold bread from their own shop will be used to brew their beers.
At each change of season, La Brewlangerie also offers a seasonal beer. For example, an IPA with combava for the summer and a gingerbread beer for the winter.
Before they had their own premises, Romain and Nicolas took advantage of the benevolent environment of beer brewing and were able to benefit from the help of another brewer to start their business. The Brewlangerie brews its beers on the premises of L’excuse, a craft brewery located in the Gers, 60 km from Toulouse in the direction of Auch. For a brew of 800 L, between 30 and 40 kg of unsold bread are used and allows the production of about 2000 bottles.
The beer benefits from the circuit already set up by the bread activity.
From left to right: black beer made with toast, white beer made with bread and wheat malt, fruity summer beer, lager made with bread, spring beer
One of Romain’s goals in setting up his own business was to limit food waste and no longer throw away kilos of bread every day as in the bakeries where he used to work.
That’s why Romain does not offer a baguette: it is too thin and dries very quickly, unlike his breads of 400 g minimum, which can be kept for 4 to 10 days. His aim is not to become a bakery that makes bread continuously and to have customers who come back every day, but rather to guarantee a quality of bread over several days.
This is also why Romain wanted to develop the brewing activity in parallel with the bakery. By using the waste and co-products of each activity, he created a virtuous circle, where waste no longer exists. This also allows him to buy less raw material by using his own products.
The Brewlangerie is labelled organic. Their products come from local producers. This is also in line with the logic of offering healthy and reasoned products with a low environmental impact (in particular by reducing transport distances as much as possible).
Romain wanted to create a bakery accessible to all. The selling price of the products of the Brewlangerie was calculated to allow a correct remuneration and to be able to pay the charges. Romain does not try to make a huge profit on his breads, as some bakeries do, so that his products are accessible to everyone who wants to eat healthy food at a reasonable price. His prices are more reasonable than those of conventional bakeries, and fairer in view of the raw material he uses.
For example, his semi wholemeal bread is sold at €4.5/kg and bread made from old flours is sold at €5/kg. For comparison, a 200g baguette is sold at 1€ in a classic bakery, which is also 5€/kg. The Brewlangerie thus offers competitive prices with high quality raw material.
During the lockdown period, customer demand has exploded. Thanks to this new customer base, rapid development and participatory financing via crowdfunding, the Brewlangerie hopes to be able to acquire its new premises in Toulouse by September-October 2020 and hire one or two people.
The Brewlangerie wants to encourage the local population to consume more responsibly: by buying bread that can be kept longer and by offering other local and bulk products in their future shop.
In France, 15 381 farms grow cereals organically, i.e. 37% of all organic farms.  Occitania is the leading region in France producing organic cereals. There are about 50 mills producing flour in this region.  Thus, the region is conducive to the development of organic activities. The actors of the cereal industry are all present in the region, which makes it possible to offer products whose production and processing are local.
Supplying themselves with local and quality raw materials allows Romain to sell their breads at affordable prices while guaranteeing a good income.
As the demand for local and healthy products is growing, thanks in particular to consumer awareness during the Covid health crisis, it is possible to develop similar concepts in the region by being competitive.
Thanks to the ongoing crowdfunding, La Brewlangerie will be able to move into its own premises by autumn 2020. This will give Romain and Nicolas more time to develop the company’s two activities as well as to offer various products sold in bulk in their future shop.
Romain’s idea of associating a bakery and a brewery together to avoid the creation of waste is very relevant. His willingness to develop slowly so that he can live from his passion while keeping time for his professional life is very inspiring. Contrary to the image we usually have, Romain proves to us that it is possible to have a craftsman’s profession that does not require hard work, and that it is possible to find a balance.
Copyright CirculAgronomie 2020