When 100% Organic Beer Means Organic

Jane Sooby's picture

It seems a no-brainer: organic beer is made with organic hops, right? 

Not necessarily. In 2007, conventional beer makers who wanted to jump on the organic bandwagon persuaded the USDA that there wasn’t enough organic hop production to meet supply.  They were granted an exemption from using organic hops.

This action spurred the threatened organic hops industry to organize and form the American Organic Hop Grower Association. They led a successful appeal to USDA and the use of non-organic hops won’t be in organic beer after 2013.

Organic hops for beer will soon experience serious demand.  To meet this demand, more research needs to be conducted on organic production. 

Conventional hop production relies on use of numerous pesticides and fungicides to protect the crop from insects and diseases. But, the ever-clever organic farmers are developing ways to better address these pressures—such as planting cover crops that suppress weeds and attract insects that prey on crop pests. 

One unmet need is breeding disease resistance from wild hops into the specialized hops varieties used in different types of beer. Researchers call for developing integrated hops production systems that help farmers grow high-quality, organic hops.

If you want to know that your ‘cold one’ doesn’t have pesticides and fungicides, check the label.  Ask the manufacturers.  

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Source: Turner, S.F., C.A. Benedict, H. Darby, L.A. Hoagland, P. Simonson, J.R. Sirrine, and K.M. Murphy. 2011. Challenges and opportunities for organic hop production in the United States. Agronomy Journal 103:1645-1654.

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