As you relax with your favorite beer brand, do you ever consider if your beer is sustainable? If you are eco-conscious, that question has probably crossed your mind a few times. Well, there are conventional beers, and there are organic beers. It is environmentally sustainable ingredients and brewing process that make an organic beer special.
We created this article to help you find great-tasting sustainable beers that are all about environmental sustainability. Read on to get familiar with 14 of the best organic beer brands across America and Europe.
As you know, beers are made from hops, grains, yeast, and water. Those are all-natural ingredients. But in the world of sustainability, it takes more than just being natural or plant-based to qualify as organic. Also, salt and water do not count as organic ingredients.
The key difference between conventional and organic beer is how the ingredients are grown. Organic farmers do not use GMO seeds, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers. Organic certification differs from country to country, but the standards are identical.
The best kind of beer is also brewed in ways that reduce their carbon footprint. Sustainable breweries use renewable energy sources, locally sourced ingredients, and renewable resources.
The word organic is pleasant to many consumers due to growing health and climate concerns. Manufacturers sometimes take advantage of that to present false claims.
The USDA has guidelines for labeling multi-ingredient products like organic beer to prevent greenwashing in the United States.
For USDA-certified organic beers, the ‘100% organic’ label shows that the beer has only organic ingredients, including any supplements. Then, we have ‘organic’ beers. Those must have at least 95% of ingredients certified as organic.
The other 5% may contain ingredients that are not available in organic form and are not prohibited by the USDA. An example is natural sulfite, which isn't sourced from organically grown sources.
Made with organic products, it must have at least 70% of its ingredients certified as organic. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients must have a specific certified organic ingredients list. The most common organic ingredient is usually organic malt.
Those categories of products can not carry the USDA seal, and those with less than 70% should not display any organic certifying seal.
Organic beer tastes no different from conventional beer, so if your beer tastes great, what does it matter if it's organic or not?
The harmful chemicals that farmers use to protect and fertilize crops negatively impact the environment. They eventually degrade the soil, pollute groundwater, and disrupt biodiversity.
A good example is the ban on DDT pesticides because they were causing raptor populations to decline rapidly1. Organic crops are better for soil health and biodiversity because organic farmers use natural crop protection methods.
Is organic beer healthier? There's no reason to think otherwise, but if you want to know if it's healthier than regular beer, we can not provide a definite answer to that.
However, since organic crops are chemical-free, you can rest assured no toxins are hiding in your pint. Also, organic breweries do their best to avoid controversial chemical preservatives, artificial colors, and synthetic flavors.
Brewing organic beer is not an easy or cheap task. Organic raw materials are uncommon and expensive. Then, the brand must undergo costly and rigorous organic certification processes and submit to continuous surprise inspections.
Also, beer production consumes a lot of water and energy. Therefore, sustainable beer brands spend more money setting up alternative clean energy sources and water management systems.
Switching to sustainable beer brands is the best way to encourage those businesses and promote sustainable brewing practices in the beer industry.
There are so many organic options for all beer styles. So, an organic version is available regardless of whether you prefer an amber ale, a fruity seltzer, a dry hopped pilsner, or a pale ale. All the brands listed below use eco-friendly packaging and recyclable aluminum cans or bottles.
Peak Organic Brewing Co offers rich flavored beers locally brewed with homegrown organic ingredients. The brewery has a direct sourcing relationship with organic hop, wheat, and barley farmers in the Northeast United States.
The brand has a commendable transparency regarding its sourcing, so it's easy to confirm that its supply chain is sustainable. Through collaborative efforts with organic hop growers, Peak Organic has kept about 93 tons of harmful chemicals away from the soil.
Peak Organic Brewing has about 30 different certified organic beer flavors. Their offerings include a variety of flavored Indian Pale Ales (IPA), seltzers, pilsners, and sour ales. Their bestsellers are the flagship Peak IPA with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Nugget hops and the Evergreen IPA brewed with spruce and juniper berries.
Eel River Brewing Company is one of the earliest certified organic breweries in the United States. The brand's brewing facility is in California, and it sources its organic ingredients locally around northern California. All the beer varieties that the Eel River Brewing Company produces are certified by the USDA and CCOF.
Their line of 100% organic beers consists of four flavors. It includes the citrusy blonde ale with Pacific Northwest organic hops, the fruity caramel amber ale, and the hoppy organic IPA. And finally, the classic Climax 100 is made simply with organic malt, yeast, and hops.
Eel River Brewing has a pub and restaurant in Fortuna, California. You can visit to sample some organic pints if you live close by.
The same family has run the Pinkus-Muller brewery for five generations. The German brewery, established in 1816, might just be the first organic brewery in the world. They work with local farmers to source the finest organic whole hops, organic barley malt, and yeast.
To support their 100% organic beer claim, Pinkus-Muller has certifications from organic inspection bodies, including ABCert and Bioland.
They have 18 beer flavors, including wheat beer and non-alcoholic options. Moreover, the brewery keeps its ingredients simple, closely following the German Purity Law for an original, refreshing taste. Pinkus-Muller organic beers are shipped worldwide. So, if you ask, your local pub could very well have it.
Toast Ale is our favorite for the most sustainable brewery. This innovative brewery makes craft beer brewed with surplus fresh bread that would have otherwise gone to waste. With leftover bread, they can reduce their regenerative malted barley use by 25%.
The brand has saved over 3 million bread slices from going to waste. Consequently, they have saved 38,000 liters of water and 63 tons of CO2. The best part is that Toast Ale donates all its profits, helping to fix the food supply system.
They have five distinct offerings. If you want to try the brand out for the first time, check out the hoppy IPA, a well-balanced beer, or the fruity American pale ale.
Brunehaut is one of the most impressive 100% organic beer brands. They produce only organic craft beer using traditional Belgian methods to satisfy modern tastes.
Their range of beers includes organic Abbey beers, Kopstoot beer cocktails, and the organic and gluten-free range. Beer drinkers will love the caramel sweetness of gluten-free Ambree and the peppery spice of the Triple Ale. Brunehaut organic beers are distributed in the US.
Every ingredient the brand uses is organic, and it tries as much as possible to source them locally. The certified B Corp takes great pride in paying fair trade prices to its local grain suppliers. It also uses solar energy to power about 70% of its sustainable brewing.
As Yorkshire's oldest, this brewery holds tenaciously to the British traditional beer-making methods. They still use stone Yorkshire squares for fermentation and hard water from the original brewery well sunk in 1758.
Samuel Smith has more than seven organic options with organic malted barley and hops. You should first try the organic pale ale, chocolate stout, wheat beer, apricot beer, or pure organic lager. As far as certification is concerned, they have the Soil Association seal.
You can get Samuel Smith organic beers from independent stockists in the USA. Bonus information—The brand has several pub hotels in and around Yorkshire. So if you ever feel like taking a beer-cation, they've got you.
This is one of the best organic beer brands for people who prefer fruity, hard seltzer beers. They have eight flavors in total, such as peach, watermelon, cherry-lime, and kiwi-mango. They even carry canned organic cocktails. All of Suzie's offerings are USDA-certified organic.
The company uses wind energy as part of Suzie's sustainable brewing practices. They also plant a tree for every 12 cans sold, and so far, they have planted over 95,000 trees.
Suzie's hard seltzers are gluten-free and keto-friendly. The brand also makes zero sugar, zero carbs claims. Suzie's is currently only available in Oregon, Colorado, and Washington. But the brand is on the hunt for distributors and may soon be in your local grocery store.
Stroud Brewery is an organic beer company with a vast array of innovative flavors. You could have a full-bodied beer, the aged organic Helles bock, or specialty hemp-flavored beer. Their best seller is the award-winning Budding pale ale, a robust beer with Amarillo hops.
Stroud uses local ingredients within a 60-mile radius for its organic brewing. The brand is actively supporting research into better ways to grow organic hops in the UK.
The brand is a certified B Corporation. It donates more than 25% of its revenue from its premium organic beers to local charities. They also use Renewable energy and reduce water consumption by collecting rainwater to flush the toilets in their factory.
Pure Project makes craft beer for avid beer enthusiasts. They have over 20 offerings of great-tasting beers, including aged sour ales, saisons, pilsners, and lagers.
Their beers are made with organic dry-farmed grains sourced locally. They also work with local organic, biodynamic farms, beekeepers, orchards, etc., to source sustainable raw materials.
The Florida-based brewery takes sustainable practices quite seriously. They are climate neutral and are a 1% For The Planet member. Pure Project reuses grain bags, recycled paper, and recycled plastic. The brand truly believes that beer can be a force for good.
This Scottish beer brand has been perfecting organic brewing for over 25 years. It offers 100% organic beers certified by the Organic Farmers & Growers Association. The brand is a certified B Corp and is also Carbon Neutral.
Black Isle has over 15 organic flavors. If you enjoy Yellowhammer cocktails, they recommend the unfiltered Organic Pale Ale. If you like taste adventures, try out the Hibernator, a stout with notes of coffee, oats, and chocolate. The award-winning Spider Monkey IPA might be your thing if you enjoy tropical tastes.
Black Isle established an organic farm on formerly intensively farmed land to grow its own produce and promote local biodiversity. They welcome visitors and students who want to learn about organic farming anytime.
Brewing organic beer in Canada, Mill Street Brewery uses certified organic grains in all its beers. They do most of their sourcing locally to avoid the enormous carbon footprint of long shipping distances.
Partnering with the Canadian Organic Trade Association (COTA), the brand provides financial aid to farmers trying to go organic. Mill Street uses an energy-efficient and water-saving brewing process.
Mill Street's first organic beer was the Original Organic Lager, a timeless classic. Since then, the brand has crafted about 16 different organic or 'made with organic' beers.
The Lakefront Brewery was a certified organic brewery in 1996. It produced the first certified organic beer in the U.S.A., which has now been discontinued. It is unclear if they still produce organic beers, but they are big on using mainly locally produced raw materials.
Very few breweries care about people with gluten sensitivity, but this innovative brand has created gluten-free beers. Additionally, Lakefront Brewery is a B Corporation and puts quite a lot of effort into giving back to society.
Patagonia is an eco-friendly outdoor clothing and gear brand. They partner with various breweries to make a lager with organic barley, hops, and regenerative organic kernza.
Currently, Patagonia does not sell its organic beer directly online, but you can find it wherever the partner breweries operate.
New Belgium is best known for its flagship craft beer, the Fat Tire, a Belgian-style ale. Today, the beer is just as delightful and has attained carbon-neutral certification.
The sustainable brewery operates in Colorado and North Carolina. It uses solar to provide some of its energy needs and has a wastewater treatment facility. Moreover, New Belgium is an employee-owned B Corp and a member of 1% For The Planet.
A lot of the breweries that make organic beer are small-scale manufacturers. That's why these options are only well-known and available locally.
However, you can ask for organic beer at local restaurants, grocery stores, or beverage retail outlets. Ordering online is probably the easiest way to get hold of these greener options.
Overall, the brands above make organic beers with concern for the environment in mind, from growing the plants to brewing each pint sustainably. Switching from regular beer to organic beer allows you to delight your taste buds without sacrificing the environment's well-being. Our list of sustainable and organic beers will help you find the most delicious yet eco-friendly beers.
Grier, J. W. (1982). Ban of DDT and subsequent recovery of reproduction in bald eagles. Science, 218(4578), 1232–1235.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.