Do you know what’s hiding in your glass of beer or wine?

While craft breweries and small-scale wineries are all the rage right now—and well-known for their quality, taste and creative flavour profiles—going “local” may not be enough when it comes to choosing an ethical summertime beverage anymore. We need to step it up and ensure that the growing practices check out.

Like many industrially farmed crops, grapes, hops and barley aren’t exempt from being grown with fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers are exposed to these chemicals, our health is affected when we consume them, and, over time, these sprays destroy the soil, animal, plant and aquatic life in the region.

Beers and wines are also processed products, which means that additives wind up in the cans and bottles. Overall, studies have found that out of 40 bottles of wines sold, 34 of them had an average of four different pesticides (and this is in the EU where there are tighter regulations).

Why drink organic?

"Organic" beer and wine may seem like a trendy buzzword, but producing beverages without pesticides, additives and chemicals is the traditional way humans made these drinks (and they preserved all the same, albeit with a little shorter shelf life).

Consumed in moderation, beer and wine (when grown mindfully without additives) are rich in vitamins in minerals and are delicious fermented beverages that can even aid in digestion.

Supporting organic breweries and wineries also supports sustainable farms

And you can taste the difference in the ingredients used! Now, acquiring organic certifications can be tricky (and expensive), especially for small farmers and brewers. To support organic growers doesn’t mean that they have to shout “organic” from the rooftops on their branding, because they may not be able to. Finding out the practices from your brewer, asking which farms they support, and doing your research is the best way to find out if your beer or wine is organic/organically grown.

The price point isn’t all that different from your craft brew, but if it is, at least you know that the few extra dollars is going to your health (and the planet's).beer and hopsPhoto by Missy Fant on Unsplash

Organic beers in Canada

Beau’s Local Organic: Canada’s only certified organic and carbon neutral beer. Made with 100 percent Ontario hops and 100 percent Quebec malts, and brewed with green electricity.

Dogwood Brew: Along with the many initiatives they’ve taken towards making sustainable beer, Dogwood serves a variety of organic brews including an IPA, amber ale, honey and other seasonal specialty beers.

London Brewing: Committed to making sustainable choices for the planet, London Brewing also values community and believes we can better our world one pint at a time. Their large selection of organic beers reflects that commitment.

Big Spruce Brewing: Eastern Canada’s only on-farm, organic craft brewery that focuses on creating exceptional ingredient-driven beer where all their ales and lagers are brewed with organic grain and hops.

Organic wines in Canada

Frogpond Farm Organic Winery: A trailblazer in the industry, Frogpond was the first certified organic winery in Ontario and doesn’t use chemical herbicides, pesticides for cultivating, or chemicals during the wine-making process. 

Forbidden Fruit Winery: A certified organic boutique winery and fruit farm that produces environmentally sensitive tree-fruit wine and grape wines from Silmikameen and Okanagan fruit.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery: A Certified B Corporation, Summerhill meets the highest standards of social and environmental impact with their organic wine. They ferment their wines naturally to retain the highest levels of antioxidants and strive to work with nature in the process. 

Southbrook Vineyards: Not only are their wines made with intention that earn recognition from critics and consumers, but their building has also been awarded with the prestigious title from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) through their use of recycled materials, wetland filtration system, and use of daylight.