What is Organic Beer?

Craft beer is getting easier and easier to find. Consumers across many food and drink categories continue to look for products that are produced or sourced locally. And are made in a healthy manner free from things like preservatives. So it’s no surprise that more brewers than ever are turning to brew organic beers. Organic and preservative-free foods have been a big trend in the last few decades.

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How it all started

A bottle of Michelob Ultra pure gold in a wheat field.
Credit: https://twitter.com/michelobultra/status/968149466107797504

Michelob Ultra has been used to target health-conscious consumers for many years. A lot of their marketing shows people enjoying the low carb and low-calorie beer after hikes or after a hard workout. The brewery is introducing a new beer in the US called Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The beer is made with organic grains and approved by the sustainable forestry initiative.

That idea quite clearly is to capitalize on the popularity of organic food and beverages and win over people who might like organic. Although Michelob Ultra Pure Gold is the first example of an organic light lager here in the US. It’s certainly not the first big food company to take a shot into the organic space.

It’s pretty clear that there is a strong demand for organic food and drinks.

What makes beer organic?

USDA Organic
Credit: https://bisonbrew.com/organic-beer/

The first time USDA published guidelines for organic production of beer was in 2000. Ingredients used for brewing beer couldn’t use chemicals or pesticides at any point during the production of these ingredients. Or use any processing aids in making the final beer.

If beer is just labeled as organic it contains at least 95% organically produced ingredients. The remaining ingredients must be proven not to be available in organic form in the quantity or quality needed for the product. The non-organic ingredients must be included in the USDA’s National list of allowed and prohibited substances.

At present hops usually compromise the non-organic component of certified organic beers because some varieties can be hard to obtain in an organic form.

Finally, beer products are made as made with organic. This means that at least 70% of the product must be certified organic ingredients. Any remaining agricultural products are not required to be organically produced. But must be produced without excluded methods. Non-agricultrual products must be specifically allowed on the national list. Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel. Organic beers tend to be more expensive to produce.

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