Sasanoa brews its hard-to-find beers on Westport Island. Photo by Carla Jean Lauter

As society trends toward becoming more ecologically and personally healthy, there is a growing market for more sustainably produced food and beverage, beer included.

Organic foods, grown while following strict guidelines against the use of pesticides and chemicals, have grown increasingly popular. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association has led efforts in Maine to encourage farmers to transition to growing more organic crops, which has led to a wider availability of organic options available to Mainers.

The demand for organic beer options is also increasing, and what was once a rarity is now popping up across the craft beer scene. This is buoyed by an increasing availability of organic grains and hops for brewers to use, an effort that has taken years to come to fruition.

Cross Path is a new organic beer form Allagash Brewing that incorporates GrandyOats honey granola. Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Co.

Allagash Brewing Company now has a completely organic beer called Cross Path, its latest release. It is a delicious and sweet Belgian-style golden ale that is available in 16-ounce cans. The beer ingredients are all organic, including oats and buckwheat grown in Maine at Aurora Farms, a base malt from BlueOx, and hops grown in Aroostook County. Organic gluten-free honey granola from GrandyOats adds a sweet character to the Belgian base flavors.

GrandyOats is a Maine company that specializes in creating small batch organic granola, trail mix and cereals – usually for people to snack on rather than tossed into a brew kettle. Located in Hiram, GrandyOats is also the town’s largest employer and has become an important part of the community. According to the beer label, Allagash and GrandyOats have a bit in common, and they “both owe much of their success to the bounty of their home state.” The beer’s description includes a toast to Maine’s “agricultural renaissance,” with a portion of the beer’s proceeds benefiting MOFGA. Allagash hopes the money raised through the sale of Cross Path will help farmers continue to transition to growing organic crops, broadening organic options even further.

While there are more than a handful of breweries that have attempted to add organic ingredients or fully organic beers to their lineup, there are also a handful breweries in Maine that brew only organic beer, and they’re quite different from one another.

The first is probably the name everyone thinks of when they think of organic beer in Maine – Peak Organic Brewing company. Based in Portland, Peak was an early adopter of organic brewing and has had its hand in helping several local and regional hop and grain farms get up to speed so that they could provide enough ingredients to fuel the demand for their beer. The lineup of Peak beers is entirely canned, so it can come with you on beer adventures in any season, and includes not just fresh pale ales and IPAs, but also the occasional sour (such as Sweet Tart). I particularly am a fan of Fresh Cut, which is a dry-hopped lager that is as crisp as it gets.

Beer from another fully organic brewery is a little harder to get your hands on, but is well worth seeking out. Sasanoa Brewing Company, located on Westport Island, is brewing large bottles of organic beer that also includes seasonal and locally-grown herbs and other additions to create bouquets of flavor. Their saisons include bittering herbs that make the character of their beers completely unique when compared to regular saisons, and they are complex without being intimidating. Available in large-format bottles, these can be a bit hard to find in southern Maine, but if you spot the floral-inspired labels, be sure to grab one.

Even tiny breweries can get in on the organic trend. Lubec Brewing Company, a nanobrewery located on Maine’s easternmost point, brews small batches using all organic grains from several sources as well as organic hops from Aroostook Farms.

If you are on the hunt for Maine’s best organic beers, you’re in luck, and you now have several options to choose from. We can expect that, as long as the demand for organic foods and beverages is there, those choices will only broaden with some more time.

Carla Jean Lauter is a freelance beer writer and blogger who lives in Lisbon. Follow her beer adventures at:

Twitter: beerbabe

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