Organic Beer Must Be Brewed With Organic Hops (Because it Wasn't Before)
The USDA has announced after much grassroot support for the change, that organic beer most be brewed with organic hops, according to a story on EcoCentric. One would beg to question why beer, which is traditionally made of just water, hops, malt, and yeast could be made with non-organic hops and still be called organic in the first place. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recently updated the laws regarding organic beer. Hops must be organic in order for the beer to be sold under the USDA certified organic label. According to EcoCentric, the exemption was not motivated by microbrewers but rather larger brewers that wanted to be able to sell their product under the organic label without having to pay for organic hops. Budweiser lobbied vigorously to ensure that organic hops would not be required.
The watered down standards were enacted because at the time most organic hops was grown in New Zealand and Europe and flown back to the US. Today, organic hops farmers are popping up across the country so it's an ideal time to tighten the requirements (which seemed downright misleading in the first place).
The USDA had initially recommended back in September that the measure not be repealed but this week the NOSB voted unanimously to make the change effective January 1, 2013. Prior to this new standard, if a beer was completely organic than the label would read 100 percent organic. It's a constant battle to ensure that the standards which we depend on are honest and straight forward. By labeling beer organic, consumers are often willing to pay more upfront and it's my hope that they're getting their money's worth.