The National Organic Standards Board has recommended to the USDA that hops be removed from the list of nonorganic ingredients allowed in organic products, and that beginning in 2013 all beer labeled organic must be brewed with organic hops.
The American Organic Hop Grower Association had petitioned to have hops removed from the list. Many craft beer makers supported the petition, such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery, and Seven Bridges Cooperative.
“We think it’s a good decision,” Meghann Quinn, executive director of the organic hop growers association, Association, said in reaction to the announcement. “We want organic beer to be brewed with organic hops, and we think this lays out a reasonable road map to get there.”
Organic beer can continue to be brewed with nonorganic hops until Jan. 1, 2013.
Hops were placed on the nonorganic product list in 2007 because brewers said they couldn’t find enough organic hops to meet their needs.
Growing organically costs more — in the case of hops about $5,000 an acre to $7,000 an acre more. Because brewers could use nonorganic hops in beers and still label them organic the demand for organic hops has been capped. For instance, only 100 of the 30,500 acres of hops in Washington’s Yakima Valley are devoted to organic hops.