Dave Munro started making bread again after his Mom passed away and he found the bread machine she used to make bread with about 10 years before. He was surprised when he opened the lid to find that his Grandmother’s Oatmeal Molasses recipe he and his Mom had adapted for the bread machine was inside. He looked around the kitchen and saw he had all the ingredients except yeast so he ran out and picked some up. He made the first loaf of Oatmeal Molasses bread he had in a long time, a bread he remembered making with his Mom when he was a child.
As this newfound bread making experience was rekindled he remembered some beer bread he’d tasted when he was in his twenties. He knew he didn’t have the recipe as the friend wouldn’t give it up so he went on a mission to craft a beer bread recipe. Dave had only drank craft brewed beers since the early days of the craft brewing industry in Ontario so he decided to use only Craft Brewers delicious brews. Ontario Craft Brewers, like craft brewers everywhere, were brewing some interesting beers, ales and other brews like gruits.
When he started researching how to make bread, styles and ingredients he found that it was suggested to use weight measure in grams rather than imperial measurements like cups and teaspoons. One reason for this was that it would be easier to double and triple the recipe. Humidity plays a role in how much flour is used in a bread recipe that’s why each recipe he found when he was developing his stated an imperial amount of flour and a second amount. The second amount is then used if the dough is too wet during the first knead the recipes stated.
One of the first bread David made was adapted from his Grandmothers Oatmeal Molasses recipe. It was a darker bread because the molasses so he wondered what brew he could use when it hit him, Stout. He took the bread machine recipe which made a small, one pound loaf and measured out the imperial amounts before weighing them in grams on his kitchen scale. In order to make a bigger loaf, about twice the size of the original recipe he then doubled all the ingredients for the larger scale recipe. He swapped out the molasses and added stout but since molasses is a lot sweeter that stout he knew he had to add more food for the yeast to make the dough rise well. Version 1.0 of the Oatmeal Stout bread turned out almost perfect while version 2.0 turned out perfect!
Dave started to work on how to get more flavour of the beer into the bread and he also considered not using yeast. He started experimenting with sour dough styled breads. He soon found the right recipes to get some pretty good loaves but this took a lot of experimentation and was becoming costly. He was able to get some of the dregs left over from a local brewers fermentation vat, slurry, and tried to work with that but found that the breads were not edible as they were far too hoppy. His experimentation with sour dough style breads was put to rest with the intension to resume experiments at a later date.
Dave went back to crafting breads with yeast and to date has crafted thirteen unique and different beer bread recipes that use a range of styles as well as seasonal brews like Maple Ale and Pumpkin Ale. At least six of the recipes are ready to scale up.
Once a couple of the breads were acceptable Dave started sharing with friends and family. After tasting them they told him he should be selling them. Dave started considering starting up a business baking and selling his breads. The name and primary goal of the business became clear.
Dave’s life changed about a year and a half after his daughter was born. When she was eighteen months old he heard devastating words, “Your child has cancer.” He and his daughters Mom didn’t have time to grieve or even think as they had to learn so much in a matter of days and they had to take care of their little girl. There were new words, there were tests and scans, there were meetings with doctors, there were consent forms. They were swamped.
Even though they were in the big city hospital, Sick Kids, Dave had never felt so alone in his life; he didn’t know who he could talk to, who would understand. He spent many hours wandering the halls at Sick Kids pushing his little girl in one of the hospital strollers while grasping IV poles with the handle of the stroller.
During the first round of chemo Dave noticed there was a blood donor clinic being set up in the old foyer at Sick Kids, being told that kids receiving chemo would require numerous blood transfusions, Dave lined up to donate for the first time. If his blood couldn’t help his daughter it could help some other Daddy’s little girl or boy. His altruistic life began.
Over the next twenty plus years Dave continued to actively donate blood whenever he could and has more than one hundred whole blood donations under his belt. The altruism didn’t stop there. A couple of years after treatment was over he found he was having troubles coping with everything. Cancer kids more often than not have lifelong issues because of treatment and Dave’s daughter was no exception.
Dave became involved in a parent support group in his community that he was lucky enough to find. He became a Parent Contact for the group and eventually represented them on the Special Education Advisory Committee of the Simcoe County District School Board to help the families in his area with education issues that kids with cancer and their siblings have. The Parent Liaison of that group saw Dave’s passion for the cause and got him connected with a provincial parent committee.
Dave joined Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer (OPACC) and found the whole group was united in believing that parents and families need help coping when faced with a childhood cancer journey. They needed help not only in the hospital but in their home communities from groups like the support group Candlelighters Simcoe in his community.
Over time OPACC became a provincial charity whose primary goal was to provide support for families of cancer kids across the province. Dave was one of the founding Board members and became the President and Chair, a role he volunteered at for about ten years. He recently found, although still very passionate about the organization, had to step away from it, ten years is a long time and the work was taking it’s toll.
The name of the business came from a play on words on the volunteer and altruistic life he had lived for more than twenty years. The primary goal of the business was also apparent and Al Truistic’s Beer Bread Bakery was borne.
It has always been the goal of Al Truistic’s Beer Bread Bakery to eventually sponsor the administrative budget of Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer. Charities are businesses, not-for-profits but still a business and we all know there’s a cost of doing business. For Al Truistic’s Beer Bread Bakery to take on the administrative budget of OPACC it will allow them to use one hundred percent of the monies they raise for the programs and services they provide their fragile families.
Thank You for taking time to read our story. Please consider donating time or money to either OPACC or one of the community based parent support groups OPACC has helped start across the province.