Organic beer is not especially difficult to buy, but it can be a tad bit harder to find than any old non-organic brew. Since organic beer is usually labeled as such on the bottle, knowing how to buy organic beer is mostly a matter of knowing where to look.
[Edit]Where to Buy
- Buy local. Nowadays, advancements in home brewing have made it possible for small brewing companies to pop up locally. Many of these small brewing companies do not use many or any chemical additives, partially to appeal to the organic niche, but also to cut down on costs. Look in a phone book or local directory for nearby brewing companies. Contact any companies you do find and inquire about whether they have any organic brews.
- You can also try looking at a local farmer’s market. Beer is a product made from natural ingredients, after all, and many farmer’s markets sell food and drink products made from locally grown crops as well as the crops themselves. These markets are a good place to look for organic goods to begin with, since many small farmers run organic farms.
- Go to a natural foods store. Not every product in a natural foods store is organic, but many are and many others at least contain organic components. Since these stores are naturally small, the selection of beer or other alcoholic beverages there might be limited. If the store owner did not get a state permit to sell alcohol, it may not even carry any. Many natural food stores do have organic beer, though, and the selection will likely be large enough to give you a basic selection.
- Try a supermarket. Recent changes in U.S. law have led to an increase in organic breweries and brews. Moreover, the interest in organic food and drink only seems to be increasing as time goes on. As a result, it will be much easier to find organic beer at your local supermarket now than it would have been five years ago. The selection of organic beers will probably be notably less than the selection of non-organic beers, but you should at least be able to find something.
- Visit a restaurant with a large selection of beer. A restaurant that has a wide selection of beer will likely include one or two organic brands. While you will not be able to buy them by the caseload at a restaurant, trying an organic brew or two at a restaurant is a good way to figure out what you like before you invest in a large amount of it.
- Attend an organic foods trade show. Every so often, an organization that promotes organic food, like the Organic Trade Association, will hold an expo, trade show, or conference to promote the organic lifestyle and awareness of organic brands. These events often have an area in which producers of organic goods can sell their products to interested buyers. These goods can include organic beer.
- Shop online. As with any other hard-to-find or specialty product, the Internet is the organic beer buyer’s best friend. You can buy directly from organic breweries or through organic grocer websites. One notable benefit of buying online is that you can comparison shop much easier, and you can also look up reviews to determine what the flavor and quality of the beer is like as well as the reputation of the company.
[Edit]What to Buy
- Know the difference between natural and organic. Natural products can contain natural ingredients that were grown using chemical pesticides, and as such, there may be higher traces of chemicals in a non-organic natural beer than in an organic natural beer. All organic beers will also be natural beers, however, since organic beer is made with natural ingredients.
- Know the difference between “100% organic” and “organic.” The USDA has specific guidelines about what products can be labeled with an organic seal. A product labeled as “100% organic” uses all natural ingredients that have been organically produced, and the product itself contains no chemicals. A product simply labeled as “organic” is at least 95 percent organic, but less than 100 percent. Usually, this means that some small trace of chemical was used during the bottling process.
- Note that beers containing less than 95 percent organic ingredients but more than 70 percent can also say “made with organic ingredients” on the label, but any food or drink containing less than 70 percent cannot use the word “organic” on the label at all.
- Glance at the ingredients. If you are uncertain about whether or not the product is organic, a quick glance at the ingredients should give you a good idea of what you are getting into. If you spot any ingredient on the list that you are uncertain about, look it up to determine if it is natural or chemical before making your purchase.
- Check out third-party reviews. Reviews are helpful in two ways. Firstly, if another customer finds out that the beer is not truly organic, a review stating such will likely be posted. Secondly, reviews also give you a good idea about the taste of the beer. Buying organic is great, but that is no reason to give up on taste. Checking out reviews before you buy will give you a good idea of what to expect as far as flavor is concerned.
- Go to a website that sells or reviews beer, but do not rely solely on the brewing company’s website to provide you with accurate reviews. The reviews on a brewing company’s website could be filtered or skewed.
- Research the company’s brewing policies and practices. Read about what the company believes and how dedicated it is to producing a high-quality, organic product. A dedicated organic brewery will likely be active and informative, while a more lax company is more likely to provided limited information. The more information a brewery provides, the more trusted it proves itself, typically speaking.
- If you cannot find a place to buy organic beer, brew your own. Home brewing is legal, cheap, and fun. At the very least, it is an experience worth trying for any beer connoisseur, organic or otherwise.