Sales of organic beer grew 40 percent in 2005, which ties it with organic coffee as the fastest-growing organic beverage. Even Anheuser-Busch -- the nation's largest beer company and maker of Budweiser products -- recently started producing two brands of organic beers.
"The interest level in the past year has grown so that we don't have to pound on doors to sell our product," says Scott Burchell, national sales manager of Butte Creek Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif.
Though Anheuser-Busch's venture into organic brewing indicates that organic beers are marketable, some organic producers have raised concerns that the large corporation could put pressure on the USDA to lower the standards for organic products, which currently require 95 percent of a product's ingredients to be grown without chemicals or pesticides.
Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, says Anheuser-Busch's entry into the organic market will allow a broader audience to experience organic products. However, the company's two organic beers -- Wild Hop and Stone Mill -- will not bear the Budweiser name, but instead "Green Valley Brewing Co." and "Crooked Creek Brewing Co."
Morgan Wolaver, CEO of Otter Creek Brewing -- maker of Wolaver's Organic Ale -- says the market for organic beers will continue to grow. "The generation coming out of college up to age 35 is especially concerned with what's around them. They realize they have power with how we spend our money."