While the beer industry has long prided itself on being above the frivolous, trendy fray — the American flag Budweiser can is the first image that comes to mind — a new survey seems to suggest the opposite.
According to Beverage Industry’s New Product Development Outlook 2016 Study, buzzwords like “natural,” “healthy,” and “organic” were industry experts’ predicted trends. While these attributes ring true for all beverages, the same study predicted most new product development would be for alcohol-related items. In addition to kombucha and electrolyte-building teas, beer and wine might be the next nutritious item.
But before adding anything alcoholic to health food stores, it’s important to note that there are dangers to classifying beer as a “healthy product.” Despite what you might have heard on the Huffington Post, the FDA has made it pretty clear that qualifying alcohol as “healthy” goes against years of research that suggest just the opposite.
While companies can’t control imbibing, they can change how people imbibe through sustainable ingredients. Several years ago a “green liquor” trend started to take hold. In 2011, Serious Eats predicted the rise of “organic spirits,” though I haven’t personally experienced much fervor since. Even Oprah’s seal of approval for Square One in 2015, who manufactures “organic” spirits, didn’t send the brand into the spotlight. This doesn’t speak to the quality of the product necessarily, but its inability to reach a larger market.
The Organic Beer Fest in Portland is working to bring “green” alcohol to the forefront. The founder Craig Nicholls opened the nation’s first certified all-organic brewery, Roots Organic Brewing. While the festival has not yet released its 2017 line-up, the brews have to reach certain requirements for participation, like containing organically-produced ingredients. South Carolina’s Freehouse Brewing presents a wide selection of organic brews inspired by the Ashley River, all the while promising full ingredient transparency for its customers.
Wine isn’t exempt from the organic craze either; the Organic Wine Company promises “wines which are made with certified organically grown grapes are delightful to drink, highest quality yet reasonably priced and can be enjoyed without an adverse reaction by most chemically sensitive people.” This is accomplished largely through the grapes, grown without pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers.
If gluten-free and paleo diets can become a health craze, why not a gin and tonic with sustainable origins and perhaps less guilt while having another round? I’m just waiting for that juice bar around the corner to replace carrot smoothies with organic brews. Maybe by taking the bull by the horns, your place of business could be the first.