Green Beer

7 coast to coast Canadian organic beers

Even for the consumers who make a bee line for local organic apples, it can be difficult to reject a tasty, ice-cold premium imported lager. After all, beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice in Canada: We guzzle more than 2.3 billion litres each year. But as much as we love it, the environmental impact of beer making, and drinking, is a major buzzkill.

Many North American brands now commonly include artificial colours, preservatives and additives to improve the head or to accelerate brewing, consequently dampening the flavour and leaving drinkers with a strangely numbing hangover. In contrast, German beers are still crafted in line with a German Purity Law instituted in 1516 that decreed that only water, hops, yeast and malted barley or wheat could be used. This natural approach has been revived and traditional craft beers are now more numerous than ever. Next time it's your round, try beers that have been crafted naturally, using locally grown or organic ingredients for a pure beer experience.

Here are a few of the standouts:

Crannóg Ales (British Columbia)

Located on a 10-acre farm in Sorrento, BC, Crannog Ales is Canada’s only certified organic farmhouse microbrewery. Crannog brews unfiltered, unpasteurized ales using only organic ingredients, some harvested straight from their fully sustainable farm. Their brewery provides food for the livestock, and the farm provides hops for the brewery.  As Crannog only ships within BC, it’s just one more reason to be out West.

Propeller Brewing Company (Nova Scotia)

Propeller is a Halifax-based micro-brewery offering four craft ales and two seasonal ales. They don’t use artificial preservatives to prolong the beer's shelf life or additives, the beer is unpasteurized, meaning it’s always served fresh (and terrifically tasty).

Wild Rose Brewery (Alberta)

At the Wild Rose micro-brewery in Calgary all beers are unpasteurized and preservative-free. The brewery also gives all “spent grains” (empty husks left over after the mashing process and malted grains are added to the brew) to a local farmer for livestock feed. The four beers on offer include a raspberry ale, brown ale, an India Pale Ale and the ever-mysterious flavour Velvet Fog.

Steam Whistle Brewery (Ontario)

The Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto uses only four, GMO-free ingredients in their brews: pure spring water, malted barley, hops and yeast. Its painted logo eliminates label paper, glues and dyes and the ‘spent grain’ from the brewhouse is shipped to farmers to be used for animal feed. The distinctive Steam Whistle green glass bottles are made a little sturdier for easy reuse; the same bottle can be washed, inspected and refilled up to 35 times! And it gets greener: The brewery uses clean, renewable energy, sourcing electricity from wind and low-impact hydro generators.

Mill Street Organic

Mill Street produces Ontario’s first certified organic lager, and occupies a beautiful historic location in Toronto’s hip Distillery District. Winning the Canadian Brewery of the Year award for 2007 and 2008, this commercial brewery uses pesticide- and herbicide-free ingredients and employs a natural, preservative-free brewing

NatureLand Organic Lager and Amber Ale (British Columbia)

Established in 1957 in Prince George, BC, next to a fresh water spring, Pacific Western Brewing is Western Canada’s largest independent Canadian-owned brewery and offers an organic lager and ale. Brewed with 100 percent organic malt, 100 percent organic Hallertau hops and pure spring water from Caribou Spring, all ingredients are certified organic and assured to be delicious.

Nelson Brewing Company (British Columbia)

Nelson Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in Nelson, BC, offering seven organic beers all with gloriously rich names like Black Heart, Faceplant Winter Ale, Liplock Summer Wheat Ale, Old Brewery Pale Ale, Paddywhack Indian Pale Ale and Wild Honey Authentic Ale. The organic dark-style ale is made in the image of the perfect pint: lightly hopped and brewed with imported organic dark roasted malted barley.