This Father's Day give him the gift of organic or locally brewed beer.
Why organic beer? It's better for the environment and thus our overall health, from the growing of the barley and hops without petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, to the strict limitation on chemicals used in brewing and even cleaning the factory equipment. In order to sport the USDA's National Organic Program certiifed organic seal, a beer must have at least 95% organic ingredients. Caveat: Non-organic hops are permitted if a brewer can't get "sufficient quantities" of organic. Solution: Ask companies if they use organic hops, and look for small regional organic microbreweries, which don't buy such huge quantities as national companies do. Some nationals, though, like Wolaver's (see list below) commit to using only organic hops in their organic lines.
Why local? Not only does locally brewed beer blend the unique taste of your region's water, soil chemistry and weather, but a lot fewer fossil fuels are burned in shipping it.
The best quick easy way to find local beer is to search for a brewpub or microbrewery at Beer100.com. You may be pleasantly surprised at all your options. For example, every Hawaiian island has got at least one locally made brew, an especially hopefuly trend in a state that imports more than 80% of its food. Another online microbrewery source: Brewpubzone.
For a low-carbon-emissions Father's Day, take Dad on a beer tasting tour without driving. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, here's a list of microbreweries you can visit by subway.
Below are some organic brews, at least one of which you can probably find at a local supermarket. If you've got a Whole Foods or Wild Oats nearby, look for displays of local/regional beers.
For more info on microbreweries and tips on making your own, check out Beer Advocate.
Don't forget to recycle those bottles when you're done. Happy Father's Day!
This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2008.
Copyright Environ Press 2008