March 10th, 2010

Truly Green Beers for St. Patrick’s Day


For those of you who actually needed a reason to drink beer, it has arrived.

Given the rise in consumer awareness when it comes to organic foods and the environment generally, there has been a surge in innovation from food and beverage producers to meet that demand. Beer crafters have actually been somewhat ahead of the curve. Microbreweries have been particularly active espousing both the “buy organic” and “buy local” movements.

By now, most people know about Peak Organic, a great organic brewery born here in Massachusetts in 1998 (now in Portland Maine). The founder, Jon Codoux had a passion for beer brewing and a sustainability ethic, realizing that if you combine both, you can make some kick ass beer and support your local economy. There are a range of organic and fair trade beers to suit just about everyone’s taste, featured on a fun website that shows just how local and funky this brewery gets. The Espresso Amber Ale for instance, is made with organic fair trade coffee beans from an indie coffee shop located down the street from Peak. The Maple Oat Ale is made through a collaboration of organic farmers located in Maine and Vermont. The Pomegranate Wheat Ale with a touch of organic coriander….well I am just bringing that one up because it sounds really good.

Wolaver’s Certified Organic Ales since 1997 is located in Vermont. Wolaver’s was one of the first USDA certified organic breweries and they don’t stop at just organic ingredients. They bring a four prong philosophy to their entire brewing and distribution process. 1. They have four different organic certifications for their brews; 2. They employ energy reduction techniques to their brewing process including, a biodiesel boiler, heat recovery, an energy efficient lighting system, and using local ingredients to minimize green house gases in transportation; 3. Depleted ingredients like hops, grains, and petals are sold to local farmers as cattle feed, they have an in-house waste water treatment system, and they use all recycled and bleach free materials for their packaging; 4. Finally they try to source everything the brewery needs locally to support their community. With Ales, Stouts, and a nice collection of Seasonals, Wolaver’s beer is definitely something you can feel good about drinking.

Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii has also been sustainably focused since its founding in 1994. Besides, organic beer, selling depleted ingredients to local farmers (and pizza/bread dough makers, hmm), recycling programs, and heat reclamation use, they are going solar. Kona received quite a bit of press recently when they announced their plans to install a 229kW solar energy generating system at their brewery and pub location. The PV system is estimated to produce an average of 900 KWh of electricity each day, allowing Kona to offset nearly 60 percent of its current electricity usage and save around $100,000 per year. When guests visit the brewery they will get to view a real-time monitor showing how much energy is being generated while they sip on their beer. So everyone, next time you are in Hawaii…..
Of course, Kona is not the first, nor the only brewery to go down the solar path. Other locally and sustainably focused crafters are moving in the same direction, including: Anderson Valley Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada in California, Lucky Labrador Brewing Company in Portland; and New Belgium Brewing in Colorado.

So there you have it! Reasons or more reasons to drink beer and support small producing craft breweries as well as your local economy.

As always kids, DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

Side note: If you are not familiar with Microbreweries in your area, I suggest you start looking into them or you will be missing out on some great brews. Matt Webster from Drink A Better Brew, here in Massachusetts, has an informative blog packed with the latest beer news you should know.

Peak Organic Beer:
Wolaver’s Organic Ales:
Kona Brewing Company:
Dogfish Head in Delaware (not organic as far as I know, but they are my favorite and therefore must be included):

This post was authored by Jessica R. Manganello, Esq. of New Leaf Legal, LLC. Check out more at and @Mangojess.

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Jessica Manganello

About Jessica Manganello

Jessisca R. Manganello is an attorney with and founder of New Leaf Legal, LLC . She works with sustainable and emerging businesses in the Boston area on their corporate and intellectual property needs. Passions include everything green, concept cars, food, movies, heavy metal music, body art, and kitty cats. To learn more check out New Leaf Legal and follow her @mangojess .