Organic beer is made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The barley and hops are grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides. U.S. organic brew sales increased 40% in 2005 to $19 million tying it with organic coffee as the fastest-growing organic beverage.
Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest beer maker, has two organic brews, Wild Hop lager and Stone Mill pale ale.
You won't find the Budweiser name on the bottles; instead, you'll find the Green Valley Brewing Co. name on the Wild Hop packaging, and the Crooked Creek Brewing Co. on the Stone Mill products.
Wild Hop is brewed at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fairfield, Calif., and Stone Mill is produced at the Red Hook brewery in Portsmouth, N.H.
How is Beer made?
Beer is made primarily from barley and hops, with some wheat used to make "wheat beers."
Producing these grains commercially involves the use of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, as well as fossil-fuel derived fertilizers. Hops are particularly susceptible to fungus, which conventional growers treat with large amounts of fungicide. These chemicals pose threats to human health and ecosystems.
Organic brewers hope that with increased demand for their product, there will be a greater incentive to grow more organic barley and hops in the United States, which will help small farmers.
Organic offers the environmentally conscious consumer a better alternative. The benefits of buying organic are clear, in the host of harmful substances not introduced into the environment and into the food system. Making beer with organic grains supports a farm system that enhances soil fertility, increases species diversity, conserves water and produces fewer greenhouse gases.
There are relatively few bottled organic beers on the market, but they readily identify themselves on the label.
Beers made with:
"Certified Organic" beers are made with organic ingredients following all the standards set by the USDA, which include standards for chemicals used to clean breweries.
"Made with organic ingredients" are made from organic grains, but not processed in certified organic breweries. Both types of organic beers support organic farmers.
Microbreweries have become popular over the last few decades, as beer may be brewed in small vats even in confined urban spaces.
Buying local beer reduces the amount of fossil fuels used in shipping, and supports smaller, local businesses. Many restaurants have their own microbreweries on premises, and most regions now boast regional beer-makers.
West Coasters and Midwesterners are particularly lucky: they can purchase organic local beer. Let your local microbrewery know that you too want to drink organic local beer!
Organic Home Brewing
As a home brewer you have many choices. Why not choose to brew organic. Your choice will give you clean tasting, fresh beer, and your choice will have a positive impact by supporting no chemicals and GMO agriculture. Organic homebrew might cost slightly more, but it is significantly less expensive than buying organic beer at a store. Plus, the cost is an investment you will like.
As you eat your burger made from grassfed, locally-raised beef, what better way to wash it down than with an organic beer?
No doubt, these days local foods are all the rage, but microbreweries have been championing homegrown products with enormous success for years. And they've added organic to their menus.