Some scoff that it’s fashionable eco-badge distinguishing respectable people from Stella-sluggers, but as the fastest growing category of the specialist drinks market, organic beer is more than just a lifestyle choice.
Why Drink Organic Beer?
The present obsession with all things organic can get a little wearing. What isn’t organic these days – organic vegetables, organic skin care, organic furniture, even organic slippers. More and more the term ‘organic’ seems less a watchword for the well being of the environment and our health, and more a cynical marketing tool aimed at enticing the more affluent middle class.
It’s hardly any wonder then that the idea of an organic version of the traditional refreshment of the honest working Brit should be met with steely-eyed suspicion. What’s wrong with my regular pint?
The ‘Perfect Pint’
There is much wrong with the average pint of beer served up in the UK. The hops used in the fermentation of beer are estimated to be sprayed up to 14 times each year with around 15 different pesticide products. In addition to this, countless additives are added to create the ‘perfect pint’, ensuring that it has a nice colour and flavour, a decent head and a profitable shelf life. According to European legislation these additives, along with the other ingredients, don’t need to be declared on the label unless the drink contains less 1.2% alcohol.
Basically your pint has been chemically altered and you don’t know what you’re drinking. Ordering a pint of real ale is no guard against additives either. For instance isinglass, a type of gelatine derived from fish bladders, is one of the most popular additives in the clarification of real ales.
The Search For a Pure Healthy Pint
Even in Germany, which prides itself on its purity laws, many brewers treat the water with chemicals before use and use fertiliser in the growth of the barley. For those beer lovers who want a truly natural pint with a pure and wholesome taste the best option is organic beer.
When brews made using organically grown hops, malt and natural yeasts first started to filter into the marketplace nearly 20 years ago they were viewed as an eccentric novelty. But as our concern over the way our food and drink is produced has grown – prompted in part by headlines heralding BSE and GM crop scares – organic beer has suddenly become a very real and enticing option.
The demand for organic beer and lager, as well as cider, is now booming, with Britain now leading the way in organic beer production. It has prompted a real interest amongst beer lovers about the way that their beers are made and how the ingredients are grown.
A Better Pint?
It may more environmentally friendly, better for your health, better for small local producers and businesses but does organic beer actually taste any good?
Being in its relative infancy, organic beer brewing is limited in variety, but what it lacks in range it makes up for in consistent high standards. As there is currently no big money to earn in organic beer, its makers do it for the pure love of it. This means they take much greater care than the average brewer in carrying out their duties, and this dedication and love shows up in the final product.