You love the blog, so subscribe to the Beervana Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud today!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Organic Beer

For those of you who don't get the dead-tree version of the Oregonian, or for those who do but ignore the FoodDay, let me draw your attention to a fairly long article today about organic beer and the activities of Craig Nicholls and Christian Ettinger. To select three paragraphs at almost random:
Nicholls was at Alameda Brewhouse when he first started playing around with organic malt and found that the barley it was made from produced more fermentable sugars than conventional malt. When he made his organic Heather Ale in 1996 from that malt and some heather he'd grown in his yard, he thought he'd invented something new. That is, until he did some research and found out that heather had been used in making fermented drink for about, oh, 4,000 years or so....

In 2000 he organized a symposium at the Lucky Lab and invited all the local brewers. But news of the upcoming gathering spread and soon he was getting e-mails and phone calls from all around the country. Robert Wolaver, who began making certified organic ales in Vermont in 1997, asked to come and speak, as did Bret Cooperrider from Ukiah Brewing Co. in California.

In all, nearly 50 brewers and industry people came to hear from Oregon Tilth about organic certification and to talk about chemicals, GMOs (genetically modified ingredients) and organics. Nearly all agreed that they should each make one organic beer, and almost all of them have in the years since, though only a few keep one on tap full time. And that first symposium spawned the first North American Organic Beer Festival, now in its fourth year.

Read the whole thing here. (It's worth a click-through.)


  1. Nice article in the O.

    Recently the Lucky Lab had organic and regular Super Dog IPA at the same time. For what it's worth, three of us agreed that the organic batch was noticeably better. There might have been some other reason for that, but it was good advertising for the organics.

  2. A little bird told me that Hopworks is using a 50-50 blend of organic and conventional malt right now, due to supply issues. And no organic hops. And not certified organic.

    Where's Laurelwood in this story, and HOTD?

    Some reporters are so frickin' lazy, the mind boggles.

  3. Jeff,
    It's easy. Join the Brew Crew, enter your tasty brown in the next Collaborator judging, win, successfully brew a batch with Ike and voila!


  4. Interesting article. The breweries featured make good beers, and if they're organic, all the better.

    But I must say that some of the brewers interviewed were getting awfully preachy. I too hope the organic beer movement spreads, but high horses and Pdx beer culture don't go together in my opinion.