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Archive for the ‘Organic Beer’ Category

Non-Organic Hops in “Organic Beer” until 2013

Posted by Maggie on June 1, 2011

This was posted in Triple Pundit.  Just FYI.  I am not even brewing organic all the time but I do think that labeling should be correct so that people know what they are buying.

What’s Really in Your Organic Brew?

hops By Inna Volynskaya

Being a responsible beer geek, you opt for a Berkeley-brewed Bison or one of those super green Oregon breweries to quench your thirst. Or maybe you unknowingly bought something that sounded sustainable like Green Valley’s Organic Stone Mill Pale Ale or Organic Wild Hop Lager. The Green Valley label is actually nothing more than Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch attempting to get a cut of the craft beer market. Anheuser-Busch is able to offer you an organic product at a lower price but is that due to its vast buying power or is something else at play?

There are two main agricultural ingredients in beer: barley and hops. Until a new law becomes active in 2013, brewers can use conventional hops and still carry an organic label. Why? The USDA believes that organic hops are not abundant enough to meet the demands of the growing organic beer sector.

Hops are prone to disease and pests, making it difficult to grow them without harmful pesticides. They are also sensitive to climate, which makes them difficult to grow without fertilizer. According to Mellie Pullman, Supply Chain Professor at Portland State University, “Even organic hops may be treated with compounds containing sulfur, copper, and other ingredients that pose threats to the health of both humans and the environment.” These challenges keep organic hops in short supply and this helps the price tag stay three times higher than the conventional crop. Meanwhile, conventional crops are heavily subsidized diluting price signals in the market.

If giants like Anheuser-Busch paid the high price of organic hops they could have a real impact on the industry. However, thanks to the USDA’s excuses, they are allowed to sink their dollars into conventional crops and still get a marketing boost from organic labels. The burden then falls on small breweries to make a real commitment to impacting the hop industry.

The 2013 deadline gives organic hop growers ample time to meet demand but now brewers who have been allowed to get away with false labeling will have to start walking the talk. The Organic Farming Research Association has already granted funds to research new methods for growing hops. Adapting methods used for other organic crops like apples have proven effective in cultivating the most widely used varieties of hops.

What can you do to make sure real organic beer has a future? As always, educate yourself. Question and research what your labels say. Engage your fellow beer geeks on sites like Beer Advocate to proliferate the conversation. Check to see which breweries are really using organic hops and encourage your favorite breweries to do so. The organic labeling loopholes don’t only apply to beer. Visit Organic Consumers to make sure the premium you pay for organic is worth your dollars.

Inna Volynskaya is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sustainable beer enthusiast, food supply chain specialist, and 2012 MBA candidate at Presidio Graduate School.


Posted in Beer and Health, Organic Beer, Sustainable Brewing | Leave a Comment »

Yes, the Organic Beer Market is Growing

Posted by Maggie on May 24, 2011

This article from TriplePundit has some great facts about the organic brewing market.

The Brewing Organic Beer Market

By Presidio Economics | May 17th, 2011

This post is part of a blogging series by economics students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program.

By: Michael Schimaneck America’s craft beer market has grown rapidly in recent years, seemingly outpaced only by its niche organic segment, thanks in part to growing consumer fears about genetically modified foods. While a few of the largest regional breweries currently enjoy widespread distribution, craft brewing remains fundamentally an industry devoted to its local followers, and the results are undeniable.

After growing 7.2% in 2009, the craft brewing industry expanded by 11% in 2010, bringing its share of the U.S. beer market to 4.9%. However, given craft brewers’ generally higher price points than those of macro brewers like Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors, this accounted for 7.6% of all sales in dollars. This reflects a growth in retail value of $600 million over the previous year, despite a 1% drop in volume of the entire industry. The number of breweries in the U.S. jumped concurrently to 1,759, the highest such total since the late 1800s. Of these, 1,716 were identified as craft brewers by the Brewers Association.

This dramatic increase in craft beer sales during the recession indicates that consumers’ tastes are evolving so much that they have become willing to accept the higher costs of a premium good like craft beer over cheaper, macro-brewed substitutes, even when their wallets are pinched, leading some analysts to project that craft beer’s share of the domestic market could even climb from 5% to 20% over the next ten years.

While organic beer still makes up only a fraction of the craft beer market, it is gaining ground very quickly. Between 2003 and 2009, U.S. organic beer sales spiked from $9 million to $41 million.  However, with the correspondingly low supply of organic ingredients currently available on the market, organic brewers are subject to higher costs for their inputs than ordinary craft brewers. Suppliers are aware that organic brewers are willing to absorb these higher costs in order to make their beer organic, but these costs are subject to a low ceiling because organic brewers generally refuse to offset their variable costs with higher price points. Instead, they sell their products at prices comparable to the craft beer industry average. While these practices serve to minimize organic brewers’ bottom lines, it simultaneously limits suppliers’ ability to further manipulate prices.

In accordance with the industry’s reputation for innovation, many craft brewers have discovered unique ways to overcome these hurdles. For instance, Bison Brewing Company, a contract brewer located in Berkeley, California, sources all of its ingredients from the American northwest. As their business has grown, they have enacted vertical impacts on their supply chain by driving the conversion from conventional to organic farming practices in that region. Additionally, companies like Sierra Nevada have begun brewing small batches of organic beer using ingredients exclusively grown on their properties.

Because organic farmlands require 50% less energy to maintain than conventional farms, it is likely that if demand for organic beers continues to increase at a similar rate, or even one comparable to the craft beer industry as a whole, then organic brewers will soon benefit from increased profit margins as their average variable costs decline.

Posted in Beer Ingredients, Organic Beer, Sustainable Brewing | 1 Comment »

Top Ten Organic Breweries

Posted by Maggie on February 26, 2011

Green Energy News rated the top ten organic breweries in 2010.  They do not explain the basis of their ratings but they do provide a nice blurb on each brewery.  Here are the results.

Top 10 Best Organic Beer Brands

10 November 2010

Organic Beer Brews Are Beneficial for Health & the Environment-

Elliott Bay Brewing Company was the first brewer of certified organic beer in King County, WA. The company has been involved in recycling programs since 2006 when it began an initiative toward 100 percent composting and recycling at their brewing facility. To further offset their energy consumption, the company purchases wind power credits and continues to find new ways to help sustain the environment both locally and globally. Most all of the beer brewed is made with 100 percent organic ingredients certified under the USDA. Its award-winning Organic Hop Von Boorian blend is a Belgian-style India Pale Ale with “through-the-roof hoppiness.”

Eel River Brewing Company, the true American pioneer in organic beer brewing, first set up shop in 1995 at the former site of the Clay Brown Redwood Lumber mill yard in Fortuna, CA. Soon after, ERB received the Gold Medal for their Climax California Classic brew — named after the Climax Engine, a steam locomotive that used to carry logs out of the forest. Many awards later, the microbrewer became the first in America to brew with 100 percent organic ingredients. ERB eventually turned the old lumber mill brewing site into a Tap Room & Grill, and moved its brewing operation to another historic mill in Scotia, CA. The new brewing site now operates with biomass power, using mill leftovers such as wood chips, bark, scrap lumber and clippings. The company offers many types of unique, award-winning infusions like the famous Organic California Blonde, Organic India Pale Ale, and Organic Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout — a dark Russian beer made with the finest Pacific Northwestern hops, designed to keep you warm during those long winter months.

➢Located in Maine, Peak Organic is a small brewing company with a selection of distinctively delicious ales, handcrafted with quality artisan ingredients. Co-founder Jon Cadoux began perfecting his craft at home back in the 1990’s, seeking out the best ingredients from local organic farmers. Years later, the company was established by Cadoux and a few of his friends in Portland. In 2009, Peak financially helped Maine farmers harvest organic hops on a commercial scale for the first time since 1880. What really sets Peak apart from other organic brewers is the creativity and care behind their blends. From their original Maple Oat Ale with real organic maple syrup and Maine-grown organic oats, to their King Crimson Imperial Red with malt and pine tones, this organic brewer is a great choice for those looking to help the planet without sacrificing good taste.

Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown organic ale is crafted with organic wet hops and barley grown at the brewery in Chico, CA. The company normally does not produce organic brews, although this one is its specialty — and for good reason. The Estate Ale is a delectable blend with earthy, grapefruit-like notes and a savory, crisp quality. Sierra Nevada not only provides delicious, artisan brews, but also focuses on lowering its environmental impact by recycling, generating their own electricity with a large solar array, and treating wastewater with a proprietary two-step anaerobic treatment system, as well as fueling their boilers with the leftover methane from that system. An excellent choice for beer and environmental advocates alike.

➢Berkley, CA-based Bison Brewing began using organic ingredients to do their part in helping the environment. Bison encourages organic farming because it saves around 50 percent more energy than conventional farming, nourishes plants and soil, and prevents water pollution attributes to pesticide runoff. According to their site, the EPA attributes 70 percent of the pollution in America’s rivers and streams to conventional farming methods. The brewery offers a wide variety of award winning brews, from the most popular year-round Chocolate Stout blended with cocoa and organic malts, to the seasonal Gingerbread Ale seasoned with roasted barley, caramel, chocolate and black malts. Not to mention, the company has started a “Drink Neutral” program which encourages organic beer lovers to reduce their environmental impact by filling out a pledge to make a small contribution to help offset their beer consumption. Beer reviews and more can be found on Bison’s website.

Pinkus Organic homebrews has roots in the Northern Germany town of Munster, when the founders Johannes Muller and his wife Friederika Cramer set up shop in 1816. The fifth and sixth generation of the family now own and operate the famous Pinkus-Muller Pub/Brewery. Dedicated to quality brews, Pinkus began brewing organic beer in 1980 and was the world’s first brewery to use organically-grown barley malt and whole hop blossoms. The company brews Organic Münster Alt (or Ale), Organic Ur Pilsner, Organic Hefe-Weizen, and Organic Jubilate — a rich, dark lager with a hop finish.

➢Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery started out as a small brewpub in 1988 and has been brewing tasty, handcrafted ales ever since. Its first beers were Black Butte Porter, Bachelor Bitter and Cascade Golden Ale. Since then, the company moved locations and now operates with a 50-barrel traditional gravity brew house and a 131-barrel Huppmann brew system from Germany. Deschutes currently has only one organic brew, the award-winning Green Lakes Organic Ale, which is the first beer brewed with Salmon-Safe certified hops. Using 100 percent organic malted barley and a mixture of Liberty and Sterling hops, this home-grown concoction is both smooth and satisfying. The company is also involved in many community organizations and contributions to promote a healthy and happy planet.

➢Located in Olympia, WA, Fish Tale Organic Ales are a line of completely organic, deliciously handcrafted beers using the finest hops and barley available. Dedicated to both health and environmental sustenance, this brewer works hard to supply a product that is pure and natural — completely free of pesticides or chemicals. Fish Tale has a wide variety of award-winning organic blends available: Organic India Pale Ale; Organic Amber Ale; Organic Blonde Seasonal Ale; Winterfish Seasonal Ale; Soundkeeper Organic Pale Ale; and Organic Wild Salmon Pale Ale.

Butte Creek Organic Brewing Company – located in Chico, California – boldly designates itself as “the official beer of planet Earth”. In 1998, the brewer decided to experiment with sustainability and released its first organic offering: the Summer Organic Ale. With the success launch of its seasonal blonde, Butte Creek now offers organic brews year-round with its delicious handcrafted pale ales, pilsners and porters. To boot, the seasonal Spring Run Organic Pale Ale has a portion of its proceeds donated to Chinook salmon restoration efforts.

Lakefront Brewing, located in Milwaukee, WI, has a large selection of award-winning brews with one organic blend and even a gluten-free option for those with wheat allergies. Organically-brewed Lakefront Organic ESB is an extra delicious British-style Extra Special Bitter blend with citrus and malt tones, and the distinctive New Grist beer is gluten-free –brewed with sorghum rice flour instead of wheat.

Posted in Organic Beer, Sustainable Brewing | 4 Comments »

Eco-Friendly Beer Options

Posted by Maggie on February 26, 2011

There is increasing interest in the blog-o-sphere in sustainable brewing and organic beer.  Here is a brief post from the Green Connoisseur on how to drink beer in a more sustainable manner, focusing on Chicago.

Sustainable Drafts, Take-Home Growlers, and More Eco-Friendly Beer Options

Published June 25, 2010

Locally brewed draft beer is one of the most eco-conscience choices for fine beer lovers – there’s very little waste generated from drafts and local brews minimize the impact of transportation and delivery. That’s why Chicago’s Goose Island introduced the Green Line Project, a plan to reduce the overall environmental impact of Chicago’s best craft beers.

About the Green Line Project

After assessing the carbon footprint of one of their most popular kegs, Goose Island made a commitment to become more sustainable in their products and operations. A new and more efficient grain mill, improved brewing and transfer practices, and continuous monitoring of their sustainable brewing progress are the primary principles driving the Green Line Project.

Green Line Pale Ale is the tangible result of the project. The Pale Ale is only available as draft, minimizing packaging waste, and is only enjoyed at local Chicago bars, reducing the carbon emissions generated through transportation and refrigeration. The tap handles are also sustainable – made from local ash trees that were infested with borers.

Other Local Brews

If you’re not in the Chicago area, you can still take advantage of local breweries and brewpubs for a more sustainable beer. Check out Brew Pub Zone for an extensive state-by-state directory of bars, pubs, and breweries.

Organic Beer

Natural, chemical-free ingredients are becoming much more common in modern craft beers. Opting for an organic brew is a healthy as well as eco-friendly. Your local whole foods market should have a selection of various organic beers to sample. If you’re in the Portland vicinity, consider checking out the annual North American Organic Brewers Festival, a tasting sample of organic beers from around the world.


Instead of bringing home bottles or cans of your favorite brew, try the latest eco-savvy way to enjoy fine beer at home – growlers. The 64-ounce glass jug, typically sporting the logo of the supplier, is filled with fresh draft beer and is the perfect way to enjoy your favorite craft beers at home.

Most microbreweries and brewpubs, as well as a number of grocers and beer emporiums offer a wide selection of beers to fill your growler. Growlers can be reused over and over, generally only cost $8 to $20 per fill, and are the eco-friendly beer solution whether you’re at home or out on the town.

Posted in Organic Beer, Sustainable Brewing | 1 Comment »