When the Term "Going Green" is said most of us men think about expensive cork floors,
High solar panels and expensive cars.Most don't know that you can go green with the beer you drink.Organic beer is getting to be big business. In the past few years, the large national brewers Anheuser-Busch, Miller and New Belgium have all introduced organic products, joining a growing number of microbreweries offering organic beer. The next time you stock up on eco-friendly ales, here are a few things to look for.
Certified Organic Products
When you buy organic beer, you're supporting a farm system that uses fewer pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, which in turn enhances soil fertility, increases species diversity, conserves water and produces fewer greenhouse gases.
"Certified Organic" beers are made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients following all the standards set by the USDA, which include standards for the chemicals used to clean breweries.
The USDA's National Organic Program allows nonorganic hops in organic beer, if the brewer can't get access to sufficient quantities. And because hops are important ingredients that add aroma and bitterness to beer, this has generated some debate about the "organicness" of organic beers that use nonorganic hops. If you want a 100-percent organic beer, buy from breweries that use organic hops. Usually, those are small, regional microbreweries, which give you the added bonus of buying local and cutting down on the greenhouse gas emissions produced in shipping beer cross-country. Some larger companies, such as Wolaver's (the first widely distributed organic beer in the country), buy organic hops for some varieties while using nonorganic hops for others.
As with any food product, local, organic brews reduce fossil-fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions related to shipping, and they support local businesses. Fortunately, microbreweries with organic products have become popular over the last few decades, since beer may be brewed in small vats even in confined urban spaces.
West Coasters and Midwesterners are particularly lucky when it comes to local, organic options, but for those who don't live in those areas, a growing number of nationally distributed beers are going organic, most notably Anheuser-Busch, with their Green Valley Brewing Co. Finally, imported organics, like the Prince of Wales' Duchy Originals Organic Amber, are a worthy alternative, but because of the environmental damage wrought by shipping long distances, try to buy American-made. One exception is East Coasters: Studies have found that the carbon footprint of wine shipped from Western Europe to the East Coast is lower than that of California wines shipped cross country. You can apply the same rule of thumb to beers.
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