TOP 10 Organic Beers in Celebration of American Craft Beer Week (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on 19. May, 2011 by in Products

Top 10 Organic Beers (Part 2 of Opportunity Green’s Craft Beer Week celebration)

By Patrick Haase and Sara Glaser

In celebration of Craft Beer week, Opportunity Green sent Patrick Haase out to find, taste and rank the Top 10 USDA certified organic beers. While many craft breweries are initiating and implementing sustainable practices and producing great-tasting organic beers, the industry at-large still has sustainable strides to make.

Patrick’s Organic Beer Taste Test

Many breweries are presenting their sustainability efforts by producing organic beers that use no pesticides or petroleum-based fertilizers. Organic beer has become increasingly popular in recent years and is widely available at liquor stores and natural food stores. I decided to sample some of the organic brews in my area for American Craft Beer Week (May 16-22) and the start of summer.  In addition to recognizing the following beers for their excellent taste, we have included a quick mention of “greening” measures the breweries have made in the transition to more sustainable brewing and business practices.

Now for the fun part!

First, some ground rules for the taste test:

  • Must be USDA certified organic beer (an objective standard to go by)
  • Must be found at grocery and liquor stores so anyone reading could easily find
  • Each beer had to be poured into a pint glass before sampling

And The Top 10 Organic Brews Are:

10.             Butte Creek Organic Pale Ale

Butte Creek Brewing Company, Ukiah, California

Medium bodied with a really nice cherry-gold color. The sweet, mildly fruity, hoppy scent—maybe apricot—really stands out. However, the beer’s taste doesn’t quite match up to its robust scents; I keep expecting to get a mouthful of fruity hops, but alas, no luck. This beer is certainly worth trying, but it’s not the best organic pale ale on the circuit.

9.            Samuel Smith Organic Cherry Ale

Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster, United Kingdom

The cherry ale from Samuel Smith has a reddish-orange color and is highly carbonated – almost like a fruity soda. The beer’s taste isn’t all that different from a fruity soda, either. I’m picking up both sweet and tart natural cherry flavors. Apparently Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry ale is equally invigorating. I love that Samuel Smith uses horses to make local deliveries five days a week and help reduce pollution from distribution. Although I really enjoyed this beer I couldn’t put it higher on the list simply because it’s more of a novelty brew.

8.            St. Peter’s Organic English Ale

St. Peter’s Brewery Co. Ltd. Suffolk, United Kingdom

One of the understated qualities of beer is the feeling you get while drinking it. Whenever I drink an English Ale I think dark, musty pubs and beer drenched soccer jerseys. This was probably one of the better English Ales I’ve ever had. It’s a bit thin, but it has a nice, clean finish. It’s not all that filling so you could definitely drink a couple of these with ease. I think it’s cool that St. Peter’s Brewery Co. recycles all of their bottles and boxes, and encourages their beer drinkers to do the same. I’ll definitely have a couple pints of St. Peter’s the next time I take in ‘The Beautiful Game.’

7.            Mothership Wit (Organic Wheat Beer)

New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium’s Mothership Wit has a cloudy, yellow-gold color. I can pick up hints of citrus and berry flavors in the scent. Mothership has more body than your average Belgian wheat beer, which is interesting because Belgians can be a bit thin. I really enjoy the fruity scent, but it just didn’t capture the imagination. New Belgium prides their company in being environmental stewards. They’ve become a model of blissful environmentalism by implementing business transparency, continually improving ideas, and embracing the “camaraderie and cheer of beer. Practicing sustainability and producing great beer, what an amazing combination! Mothership doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s solid across the board and I’ll definitely be bringing it to a cookout this summer.

6.            Organic Wild Salmon Pale Ale

Fish Brewing Company, Olympia, Washington

Wild Salmon Pale Ale has a quality hoppy scent with a nice malty sweetness. I really enjoy the slightly bitter finish—it tickles the tongue. This beer is perfect for a warm summer’s night. It has a familiar pale ale taste and there’s certainly enough intrigue to keep you coming back.  A fun fact I learned about Fish Brewing Company is that they contribute to a nearby dairy farm by delivering their spent grain (post-fermentation) to feed dairy cows, and the dairy later produces cheese that is sold at the local farmers’ market. They also employ additional sustainable practices by re-cycling water used through out the heat exchanger (during the cooling process of beer-making) and re-use it for multi-purposes around the brewery, thus conserving water.  Very cool!

5.             Eel River Organic Amber Ale

Eel River Brewing Company, Scotia, California

I tried several beers from Eel River, one of the more available organic breweries on the west coast, and the Amber Ale was one of my favorites. The honey flavor makes this beer almost a cross between an amber ale and a brown ale—a nice twist that I really enjoyed. This beer is fantastic because it holds up well over all seasons.

4.             Samuel Smith Organically Produced Lager

Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster, United Kingdom

Sam Smith’s Organic Lager is similar to a “euro pale lager” like Stella Artois or Harp—but even better. Initially there was nothing about the scent or the taste that stood out to me, but the more I drank it, the more I wanted to keep drinking it. It’s bright, crisp, and refreshing. Eventually I’m able to pick out orange notes and maybe even apple and honey. It’s really a fantastic lager.

3.            Bison Brewing Organic Chocolate Stout

Bison Brewing Co., Berkeley, California

I was looking forward to drinking this beer more than any other—not too many breweries are making an organic chocolate stout. The smell and initial taste are like you’d expect, chocolaty and coffee-like. It had a slightly bitter finish. Unfortunately, this beer was a little watery and I would have liked it to be heavier. I put Bison’s chocolate stout at #3 because I loved the chocolate and cocoa taste and despite its thinness, I wanted to keep drinking it. Not only does Bison Brewing Co. use only 100% organic ingredients to make their beer, their 6-packs are packaged in 100% recycled paperboard.

2.             Eel River Triple Exultation

Eel River Brewing Company, Scotia, California

I was pleasantly surprised by Eel River’s Triple Exultation, an ale with deep brown color and chocolate, caramel, toffee, and dark fruit scents. This is the type of thing you’d find on tap at an English pub; it’s dark and thick, and at 9.7% abv it’s the perfect brew to kick off a weekend night. In addition to using all organic ingredients, Eel River Brewing Company fosters sustainability by purchasing all of their ingredients locally and operates out of a former lumber mill that is 100% biomass powered. Don’t be fooled by the high alcohol content and the heavy pour of Triple Exultation, this is a fantastic beer that’s sweet and lingers on the palate. This could easily have been #1.

1.             Bison Brewing Organic I.P.A.

Bison Brewing Co., Berkeley, California

Bison’s I.P.A. earned top honors because it was the most enjoyable beer to drink, mild and malty with citrus undertones. Nearly every aspect of this beer surprised me. I initially thought the color was too cloudy, the smell too mellow, and the taste too mild, but somehow the final product was incredible. For an I.P.A. this one is too tame and not particularly hoppy—a downside for the style. But this is the rare beer that transcends style. It’s light, crispy, and even though it lacks the bite of a traditional I.P.A, it’s extremely refreshing. Bison Brewing Company is a Certified B Corporation that has implemented “Drink Nuetral” into their consumer engagement. This is a neat promotional program that addresses the issue of carbon footprinting, educates consumers, and encourages Bison beer drinkers to take action on their own personal carbon footprint associated with their beer consumption.

When we notified Dan Del Grande, owner of Bison Brewing Co., about topping our 2011 Craft Beer Week Top 10, he remarked: “Overall, I try to lead by example, showing one need not sacrifice the pleasures of everyday living to be green.”   Cheers to that!

Did you read Part 1 of this feature earlier this week? Read Top 4 Sustainable Breweries in Celebration of American Craft Beer Week now, if you missed it.

Source List:

1. Butte Creek Brewing Company http://www.buttecreek.com/

2. Samuel Smith Old Brewery http://www.samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk/

3. St. Peter’s Brewery Co. http://www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk/

4. Eel River Brewing Co. http://www.eelriverbrewing.com/

5. Bison Brewing Co. http://bisonbrew.com/

6. Fish Brewing Co. http://www.fishbrewing.com/

7. New Belgium Brewing http://www.newbelgium.com

 

Related Links:

Beeradvocate.com; website devoted to craft beer review http://beeradvocate.com/

 

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2 Responses to “TOP 10 Organic Beers in Celebration of American Craft Beer Week (Part 2 of 2)”

  1. mary [ life inspired ]

    14. Jun, 2011

    Missing the Deschutes Brewery Green Lakes Organic Ale! The best! :)

  2. Hydroponics

    24. Jun, 2013

    That is awesome!  I never knew they made organic beer… COOL

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