Admittedly, going up to the bar and ordering an organic brewski isn't as cool as a dry martini or a Jack and Coke, but that hasn't stopped the organic beer industry from growing, especially in Portland, Oregon.
Tomorrow Portland hosts the 6th annual North American Organic Brewers Festival, a three-day celebration of certified organic beer.
And the festival has seen its attendance grow every year; over 15,000 people showed up for last year's hoedown.
The interest in organic beer has sky-rocketed since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put into practice organic standards in 2002, growing into a $19 million market.
Organic beer is booming overseas too. In New Zealand, Mike's Organic Brewery has seen a major up tick in sales as many young beer drinkers are looking to try more sophisticated brews. It would be tacky to funnel organic beer, right?
Oregon is leading the charge in organic beer because many local breweries started concocting organic versions of their popular craft beers. Craft beers are great. They're microbrews and can come in all sorts of weird flavors. I've had some colored with beet juice or flavored with chocolate. Awesome!
For a beer to be organic, the USDA requires that 95% of its ingredients must be organically grown, so no chemicals, pesticides, or genetically engineered ingredients. It's hard to make beer 100% organic because organic hops are hard to come by.
Organizers of the North American Organic Brewers Festival will showcase more than 50 fully certified beers and are predicting over 20,000 attendees this year.
I may be moving to Portland in the fall, so if you find me passed out in the street, surrounded by empty organic beer bottles, don't be surprised.
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