Weekend socials, football games, vacations or just trying to relax at night are all times we find ourselves enjoying a beer or two. The United States ranks number nine in the “Top 20 Beer Drinking Countries” in the world. The study found that the average consumption is 81.6 liters per person and that there are “more breweries in the U.S. than any other country.” If we have the greatest number of breweries in America, then why not select one that is not only better for your health, but better for the environment as well?

When we think of organic products, what usually comes to mind are raw fruits and vegetables, but what about our alcoholic drinks? The North American Organic Brewers Festival website states that all beer was organic until the 19th century. Today, many pesticides and fertilizers are used when growing barley and hops. The first modern company to produce organic beer was Pinkus Müller brewery in Münster, Germany in 1980. In the mid 1990s, organic beer began being produced again in the U.S. and has grown to be a $20 million market.    

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Pesticides and fertilizers are toxic and very harmful to our health and the earth. These chemicals not only lurk in our products, but they also make their way to our local water sources. These chemicals have been found to cause cancer, problems with fertility, respiratory ailments and allergies. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that they are the cause of the massive bee declines as well.

Choosing organic products not only helps decrease the amount of toxins we are putting into the environment, but it also supports the reduction of erosion and conservation of water by encouraging a more natural method of growing crops. “Farmers are estimated to spray hops 14 times a year with an average of 15 pesticides and fungicides,” according to an article by Lloyd Alter, a writer for TreeHugger.com.

So with all of this talk about why to choose organic, what organic breweries exist in the U.S. so we can reduce our impact on the environment? Here’s a rundown of some of the best U.S. breweries that contain organic beer.

Bison Brewing
Berkeley, California

Bison Brewing not only produces 100% USDA certified organic beer, but it was also the first B Corp-certified brewery in the world, meaning it meets “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.” The brewery works hard to reduce its impact with its business practices and use of recycled and non-GMO packaging.

Butte Creek Brewing
Ukiah, California

Butte Creek Brewing is organic certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers organization (CCOF) and encourages others to practice sustainability and better use of renewable resources. The brewery produced its first organic beer in June of 1998, the Summer Organic Ale, which is considered to be one of the first organic beers in the U.S.

Eel River Brewing Company
Fortuna, California

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Eel River Brewing Company was the first fully certified organic brewery in the United States and it has continued its efforts toward lowering its impact by using recycled materials, ingredients from local businesses, utilizing renewable energy and recycling its spent grain, as well as installing a water pre-treatment facility.

Fish Brewing Company
Olympia, Washington

Fish Brewing Company has seven different organic ales to choose from and donates its used grain to local dairy farms. It also recycles water by using the same water for multiple purposes.

New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium allows you to follow its progress of becoming more sustainable through its website. It has set goals to reduce energy and water use, as well as decrease its waste and CO2 production within a certain timeframe. Since day one of opening the brewery, it has worked towards developing sustainable practices and even has its own “sustainable purchasing guidelines” in order to ensure that it partners with other environmentally conscience vendors.

While being environmentally responsible by choosing a drink from one of these breweries, don’t forget to drink responsibly as well.

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Stephanie Siemek is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.