Drink green

Breweries / trend

Organic beverages go mainstream

By Marissa Block

Consumer demand for organic alcohol undoubtedly is fueling the "drink green" trend.


What started as a practice for some breweries is now becoming a way of life for many. Organic beverages are going mainstream, finding their way onto store shelves and liquor menus across the country.

"It’s a big trend right now," said Ari Kolas, general manager at Apollo Wine & Spirits. "It’s good for people and it’s good for the environment."

While organic labels may be somewhat limited in Minnesota, Kolas said "more and more come in every day." There are currently 50 to 60 organic wholesalers and at least seven organic breweries in the state.

For a brewery, the decision to make the switch is not easy. Becoming certified as an organic brewer requires several steps and may take anywhere from five to seven years. For this reason, there are three different levels of commitment — sustainable, organic and biodynamic — each with its own set of regulations and requirements.

A commitment to sustainable agriculture offers some room for flexibility.

"Growers farm organically whenever possible," Kolas said. "Chemicals are used as a last resort."

To commit to organic agriculture means complete prohibition from all sulfur compounds — frequently used as a preservative in wine — and chemical fertilizers, weed killers and other synthetic chemicals. Breweries must show proof of their abstinence from chemicals for five to seven years before certification is possible.

The third level, which is much less popular, is biodynamic agriculture. Biodynamic agriculture is practiced in hopes of preserving the land by upgrading soil and plant life through natural products — usually during annual cycles — and nourishing the soil through tilling and hoeing.


"Some people argue that organic wines and beers lack quality because they aren’t made the traditional way, and liquors depend on chemical processes," Kolas said. "But the main factors are the kinds of grapes used and their growing environment."

Marissa Block is the Life editor. Send comments and story ideas to

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