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June 20, 2007

USDA Helping or Hurting Organic Beer Brand Naming?

USDA logo I am very interested to see the brouhaha that is developing over whether most organic beers can legitimately claim being "organic" at all, not least because it turns out that "almost all U.S.-made organic beers contain hops that have been chemically treated to fight mildew and insects."

anheuser-busch logoThis must be bad news for all the new organic beer labels that are coming out lately, including a whole bunch from New England like Wolaver's and Peak Organic.

The former has seen sales increase 18% yearly, which says something about America's love for microbreweries and organic products.

steinlager logoOf course, Anheuser-Busch has gotten into the act, with its Stone Mill Pale Ale and Wild Hop Lager. And therein lies the rub: Anheuser-Busch and others are trying to take advantage of a clause in the law that says just 95% of a product's ingredients need to be organic to be classed as USDA Organic on the label. So they are pushing to have their non-organic hops added to the list of exemptions.

But as one activist pointed out, "organic means organic," and, "when you're selling products that contain some ingredients that aren't organic, you lose the meaning of the word and the meaning of the organic movement."

This obviously puts bona-fide organic beer makers on the back foot. Most true organic hops come from New Zealand, where Steinlager has just announced a new Pure version of its popular beer brand name.

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Posted by William Lozito at June 20, 2007 9:02 AM
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1 Comment

Lakefront Brewery's Organic ESB was the first organic beer bottled in the United States in 1996 and has used 100% organic hops the entire time we have been in production with this beer. We are on record in our opposition to adding conventionally grown hops to the USDA/NOSB list and have always been skeptical of Budweiser's and other breweries attempts to diminish the credibility of the organic seal. We are also working with organic farmers in Wisconsin to grow organic hops so that ANY brewery that claims they cannot source them will be able to get organic hops- grown in Wisconsin.

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