Pot of beer

Organic and natural beer

In Diet, Nutrition and Recipes by LivingNowLeave a Comment

Sunset streaks rich purple across the horizon and peak-hour is a fading memory. Friends clink glasses, raising toasts to small, meaningful victories and end-of-work relief.

 

There’s something about beer, especially when shared with friends, that makes you want to take a break from the detox every once in a while, put your feet up, and have a glass or two.

It’s helpful to know that for just this kind of moment, there is a whole chain of people committed to making sure that the beer we drink is not only healthier for our bodies, but also healthier for our planet. This includes farmers weathering the challenges of organic crops through to brewers omitting nasties like preservatives from their recipes.

Some of these options are available for purchase locally at selected bottle-shops while others are available by mail-order. There is also a growing number of bars across the country providing organic beer on tap or in their fridges. It was one such pioneering bar that hosted our recent taste test review. We arrived armed with a handful of organic and natural beers, together with printouts from the net on professional beer-tasting technique and language (and what a colourful and complicated sport that is!)

As you will see, we couldn’t really pass as professional beer-tasters, but in the end we were happy just to put our feet up, have a glass or two or organic beer, and share with you our creative attempts.

Coopers Brewery

A family-owned Australian brewery with a 140-year history. They produce their beer using natural ingredients, and the ale range is additive and preservative free. Available Australia wide For stockists call 08 8440 1800 or log onto www.coopers.com.au

Original Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * * *
This was generally well liked – a few of us even reported that we would consider converting to this as our beer of choice for future purchases.
Matty Maximus, whose arm was painfully twisted to take part in the test (!), said this one was “light, refreshing, smooth. Best yet.”

Sparkling Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.8%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
Most of the panel agreed that this beer was sweet – some of us loved it whilst others found it too sweet for their liking. Libstar, our resident creative foodie, commented that it was “crisp and fresh instantly. Slightly bitter. Great for a big glass on a summer’s day.”

Mild Ale
Alc/Vol: 3.5%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
We generally agreed that this beer was pleasant and fresh. Matty Mc, ever the refined beer-taster, or at least making a convincing attempt at it, said: “Caramelly scent. Crisp like the pale ale but lighter – a great mid.”

Green Fern

A New Zealand brewery, producing certified organic beer based in Westport on the South Island of New Zealand, which started in 1999 and received full Bio-Gro NZ Status in early 2000. This beer is chemical, sugar and preservative free and is vegan. They also generally use filtered rainwater in the preparation of the beer. Currently available in QLD and VIC For stockists call 0416 484 303

Organic Lager
Alc/Vol: 5%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * * *
This beer was well appreciated. Most of us agreed that it was unique and appealing.
Matty Mc commented: “Well rounded. Heavy flavour yet still crisp. Malty. Easy drinking perfection.”

Silly Yaks

Silly Yaks is a company which began as a bakery and then expanded to sell gluten-free food, as well as food catering to a range of allergies and intolerances. Gluten-free beer is now also a part of their range. The company policy is that all products are 100% gluten-free, and contain no added artificial colours or preservatives. Available in NSW/QLD/WA/VIC/SA For stockists call 03 9481 2238 (Silly Yaks office) or http://sillyyaks.com.au/about/featured-stockist

Aztec Gold
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
We were generally impressed with this beer and felt that the brewers had done a pretty stunning job creating a gluten-free alternative that was so convincing.
Bretty, who later lost his literacy-sophistication as the night (and the beer samples) wore on, decided that the beer “smells fruity, tastes of olives. Has a light body like wine.”

Mountain Goat

A Micro-brewery that started out “in Dave’s backyard” in the early 90’s after some successful home-brew experiments, and now produces award-winning organic beer (Australia’s first 100% organic beer.) Currently the filling, capping and labeling is still done by hand. Currently available in VIC, NSW and SA. For stockists call 0419 520 765 or click here to email

Organic India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * * *
This one was a winner, with most of us recording the taste as unique and enjoyable. Tizza, mysteriously referencing lychees in almost every beer, commented: “Lychee scent again. Guava taste. Tropical fruity after-taste. Yum.”

Little Creatures

An independent brewery producing small batch organic beer that is not pasteurised and is preservative-free. They also run a project called Green Steps within the brewery to maintain a standard of environmentally-friendly practise, ie they recycle all glass and plastic-ware, send spent malt grains to cattle farmers and are in the stages of implementing solar panels to power part of the brewery. Available WA/VIC/NSW/SA/QLD. For stockists call 08 9430 5155 or 1300 722 850 or log onto www.littlecreatures.com.au

Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 4.6%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
This beer was generally regarded as a light and pleasant beer, though a little too light for some. Julia-Gulia, a recent addition to our taste-test team, said she found it “clear, fresh and crisp with a dry finish.”

Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 3.8%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * * *
This beer provoked varied responses. Some of us loved it and others found it too over-powering. James, throwing himself into the role of connoisseur, commented: “Very honey sweet, very natural, very good.”

Rogers Beer
Alc/Vol: 3.8%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * *
This beer didn’t inspire many of us, though to be fair by the time we sampled it we had sampled so many different products that it was impossible to distinguish the subtle differences from the first ones we tried. James again shared his creative critique. “Rosy, malty. Pleasant sensual scent.”

Founders Organic Brewery

A New Zealand brewery producing certified organic beer, which also tries to minimise environmental impact through business practises such as bottling beer in reusable bottles, minimising packaging, and recycling brewing by-products via worm farm into organic compost. The beer is also free from genetic engineering and is vegan. Available in VIC and NSW For stockists call 0412 100 801 or click here to email

Tall Blonde
Alc/Vol: 4.2%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
As you can imagine given the name of this beer, we had some very creative responses to this beer. Generally we found it refreshing and light, though some found it a little bitter. Julia-Gulia, by now really warming to the taste-test (possibly literally), said: “Initially fruity with a quick sharp bite.”

Generation Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.3%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * *
A couple of members of our panel loved this very dark beer but most of us found it too much. Perhaps if we were a gathering of dark-beer enthusiasts, we might have critiqued this product more fairly. While Matty Mc thought this would be great to drink while eating meat, I possibly missed the point, being a vegetarian, and thought it was “thick, nutty. An over-powering brew.”

White Cliffs Organic Brewery

A New Zealand brewery offering certified organic beer which is not pasteurised and are all additive and preservative free. Available in VIC For stockists call 0412 100 801 or email click here to email

Mike’s Mild Organic Ale
Alc/Vol: 4%
Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
This one, again, was a darker beer than most of us are accustomed to. A few of us compared the richness to bourbon-whisky. Tizza, moving on from lychees, commented: “Liquorice-like scent. Unpleasant aftertaste.”

G. Schneider & Sohn

A German brewery producing organic beers. The beer that we reviewed was apparently originally created only for Oktoberfest in Munich, with production beginning in earnest from an adaptation of the original recipe 50 years later. Available in QLD, NSW, VIC, WA For stockists call 0412 123 088 or email click here to email

Wiesen Edel-Weisse
Alc/Vol: 6.2% Living Now Tasting Panel Star Rating: * * *
I think it is quite telling, really, that although we enjoyed this beer, we didn’t find it overly exciting. This was the only German beer in our review, and German exports are recognised as the best beer in the world by serious beer critics. Funny that….. Obviously our other new taste-test member, Chani, has superior taste-buds. She commented: “Fizzy, fruity. Lovely taste. Great beer.”

Thanks to all of the breweries and distributors who took part in this test, to all of the farmers growing organic produce, and indeed to all who have a part to play in the process of making these alternatives available. Thanks also to The Forest Café and Bar in West End who hosted this (quite raucous) Taste Test, and who by serving mostly organic and preservative-free beer, are themselves a part of the process of making the alternatives more accessible.

 

Vicki Yianni is a freelance writer, author of several children’s books, and the proud mother of a wonderful boy.

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