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Green Summer: Organic Beer

7/1/2009 4:44:54 PM

Tags: green summer, organic beer, organic alcohol, organic products

I’m not a big drinker, but sometimes after a long day, I like to open a beer and relax. Being a noncommittal person, I don’t like to tie myself down to one beer, and with so many options out there, it doesn’t make sense to always buy the same thing. Lately my quest to try different beers has led me down a greener path – and there are a lot of green beers down that road! 

Not all USDA organic-certified beer is made with organic ingredients. Beer is traditionally brewed from hops, and hops are a delicate crop. They’re highly susceptible to pests, mildew and fungi, making it difficult to grow hops in a damp, northern climate. Most organic hops are grown either in New Zealand or on small-scale farms in Wisconsin, the Northwest, Western Canada and England. This makes it difficult to get organic hops for brewing, which is perhaps why the USDA has allowed certified organic beers to be made with non-organic hops. 

Despite this, finding a beer made with organic hops isn’t too difficult. Here are a few I found: 

Stone Mill Pale Ale: Most organic beers come from microbreweries, but this one’s straight from beer giant Anheuser-Busch. Brewed at an organically certified brewery in Merrimack, New Hampshire, this beer has a fruity aroma and is distributed nationally. 

Peak Organic: This brewery currently offers seven different types of beer made with organic ingredients, including some interesting flavors. Peak Organic distributes nationally, and a six-pack costs about $8. National Geographic’s Green Guide labeled Peak Organic products as the greenest beer available.


Fish Tale Ale

The Fish Brewing Company makes four different types of organic beer. Photo Courtesy The Fish Brewing Company   

Fish Tale Ales: The Fish Brewing Company, located in Olympia, Washington, offers four organic ales for about $8 a six-pack. Unfortunately, the company only distributes its beers in Alaska, Northern California, the Pacific Northwest (including parts of Canada), Wisconsin and Florida. 

For a listing of more organic beers, check out Natural Geographic’s Green Guide beer buying guide or Mother Earth News magazine's home brewing page

Local and home brews 

From the brewing process to cross-country transportation to keeping it cold before you can buy it, beer consumes a lot of fossil fuels before it gets to you. Buying beer locally and brewing your own beer are two ways to cut back on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions your beverage creates. 

Buying beer from a local brewery not only cuts back on these emissions but is also a great way to support your local economy. In Lawrence, Kansas, where I live, Free State Brewery is a popular local restaurant and bar. Free State offers seven different beers, all brewed on site, including the Ad Astra Ale, the Oatmeal Stout and my favorite, Wheat State Golden. Free State also offers the Growler, a 64-oz reusable jug. Although these beers aren’t organic, at least I know my beer isn’t consuming unnecessary energy to get to me. 

Home Brew Kit
Brew your own beer at home to cut back on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions your beverage creates. Photo By ahockley /Courtesy Flickr 

Brewing beer at home is also a good way to make your beer greener – and cheaper. I’ve never attempted it myself, but I have a friend who frequently makes his own. Good luck to you if you try! 

If you know of any good organic beers, post a comment and let me know! I’m always on the lookout for something new.

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