With Summer almost here, it’s grilling season. And what pairs with grilling season better than tossing back a few beers? Maybe you’re a fan of Pale Ales, or maybe you prefer something darker like Stout, and just maybe you’re into organics. Organic beer? Yep, it’s out there, it’s good and it’s growing (even big names like Anheuser-Busch are brewing them: they’re trying out the Wild Hop Lager and Stone Mill Pale Ale in select markets). If you’re up for trying some environmentally friendly beers this year, check this list out:
- Lakefront Brewery, Inc. – Not only do they make certified organic beer (no, not all of their beers are organic), but they also make a gluten-free beer. Their gluten-free beer, New Grist, was developed for those who are gluten-intolerant, and if you have your doubts about how a beer like this might taste, rest assured: it’s won 5 awards in 3 years, including 1 gold and 2 silvers from the Great American Beer Festival. Their organic beer, Lakefront Organic ESB, with an ABV content of 5.7%, is very popular and manages to be both flavorful and refreshing – and it’s made with 100% certified organic ingredients. Even the hops used in their ESB are organic ‘” the founders partnered with local farmers to grow organic hops (so they’re using local ingredients too!). Lakefront Brewery has also taken steps to become greener, with 5% of their energy coming from wind power, implementing a reclaimed heat process during brewing, and using CFL’s in 95% of the brewery. One of the coolest things they do is give about 15,000Lbs., per week, of spent grain to Growing Power, Inc., who then turns it into supersoil.
- Wolaver’s Certified Organic Ales – Wolaver’s was one of the first certified organic breweries in the US. Their brewery also utilizes a variety of environmentally friendly practices like: a bio-diesel boiler (which cut their CO2 emissions by 120,000 pounds per year), heat recovery system, free-air refrigeration system (which means they take advantage of the cold seasons in Vermont by pulling cold air in, instead of using energy to refrigerate), use of energy efficient lighting that has reduced electricity usage by more than 85%, and use of local ingredients whenever possible. Their Pale Ale and Brown Ale are two popular and tasty favorites.
- Eel River Brewing – This company has won so many awards, it’s a bit ridiculous ‘” every beer they make has won countless awards; you’re sure to find something that fits your tastes. Not only that, but Eel River was the first brewery in the US to be certified 100% organic. They’re also the nations first 100% biomass powered brewery, which means they reuse everything ‘” co-owner Ted Vivatson said “If you cut your grass or trim your bushes and bring them down here for disposal we use it for power.” Their Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout is possibly their most popular beer, and the Organic Porter is so good non-dark beer drinkers may be converted! The Extra Pale Ale and Blonde Ale are excellent alternatives if you’re not into the dark stuff.
- New Belgium Brewery – Currently New Belgium only produces one organic beer, the Mothership Wit, with 4.8% ABV, but all of the beers from this eco-friendly company are worth checking out. You may be familiar with their popular Fat Tire Amber Ale, and their winter seasonal beer, 2‹ Below, is definitely worth checking out. The Mothership is USDA certified organic and has been described as aromatic with a good blend of spicy and sweet, and is an excellent addition to New Belgium’s line of beers. This company is all about sustainability, and their website outlines the steps they’ve taken to reduce their impact on the earth. You can even check out their actual carbon footprint and read their sustainability blog on their site as well. Some of their biggest accomplishments include being the first largest private consumer of wind powered electricity and the first wind powered brewery, they also produce additional energy through a process utilizing wastewater, and they hold an annual bike festival which encourages biking as a mode of transportation (their Team Wonderbike, with 20,000+ members, has pledged to offset more than 14 million car miles by biking more over the next year). As if that’s not enough, they’re members of 1% for the planet, they just installed a smart grid and finished installing a solar array last year. But they’re not stopping there, New Belgium plans to reduce their carbon footprint by 25% and reduce their water usage by 10%. Oh, and how cool is this: all employees get a custom cruiser bike after their first year of employment. New Belgium proves you can be green without being solely organic.
- Sierra Nevada – Okay, it’s not an organic brewery, but like New Belgium, this is definitely an environmentally friendly company. The entire brewery is solar powered, and their ultimate goal is to have 100% sustainable energy production. That’s not all they’re doing: they have received an award from the Waste Reduction Awards Program yearly since 2001, and an official press release states that they have one of the largest commercial fuel cell projects in the US, have a CO2 gas recovery plan in place, utilize an extensive recycling program, and installed a wastewater treatment plant on site. They’re best known for their Pale Ale, but their Torpedo IPA and Celebration Ales are two others you have to check out. Their on site taproom and restaurant features locally grown produce and is a great place to grab a meal before enjoying live music on the property. If you’re really into them they also make some great eco friendly gear.
So whatever kind of beer you’re into, you’re sure to find an eco-friendly one from the list above to enjoy while flipping burgers. Lower your carbon footprint while indulging in some extraordinary beers… you can handle that this summer, can’t you? For the sake of the planet, of course.
Sources: lakefrontbrewery.com, wolavers.com, eelriverbrewing.com, newbelgium.com, sierranevada.com