The days of drinking Stella Artois and Guinness are far behind us; consumers are now looking for beers that are local and sustainable! As a result, independent breweries are emerging across the country and providing consumers with affordable and unique options. These new breweries are often recognized for the distinctive taste, unorthodox flavours and constant innovation of their beers.
Many Canadian independent brewers are also tapping into the organic market. They are going the extra mile to ensure that their beer meets Canadian organic standards by sourcing organic malt, hops, yeasts, water and other ingredients. Dogwood Brewing, Crannóg Ales, Nelson Organic Brewery, London Brewing Co-operative, Collectif Brassicole Ensemble, Tatamagouche Brewing Co., and Big Spruce Brewing are among a few organic breweries in Canada.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Dogwood Brewing is one of Canada’s newest certified organic breweries. It opened its doors in 2015 with the intention of serving consumers with a tasty, yet sustainable beer. Since then, it remains the first and only certified organic brewery in the Vancouver area. Dogwood works with local growers and producers to source its hops and malt. The brewery’s selection of beers include original flavours, inspired by popular tea drinks, such as Coconut Chai and London Fog.
Sorrento, British Columbia
Crannóg Ales is a pioneer in the organic beer market. It was the first brewery to be certified organic when it opened in 2000 on the Left Fields organic farm in the Shuswap region. Since the beginning, the two founders have shared a vision to brew socially responsible beers by sourcing organic and locally grown ingredients, and creating a sustainable ecosystem and farm. In fact, many of the ingredients used are grown on their own farm! Even the brewery’s name ties to the founder’s sustainable and organic goals as it relates to an Irish tradition of “care for the land and protection from invaders.” Crannóg Ales’s beer is available to consumers at the brewery, online, and at local farmers’ markets. The website and store also carry products made in partnership with local businesses and farms, such as Beer-B-Q sauce, beer soap, honey and mustard.
If you are interested in learning more about Crannóg Ales, please see How to Grow Hops.
Nelson Brewing Company
Nelson, British Columbia
The Nelson Brewing Company (NBC), located in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, specializes in certified organic beer. Its selection includes a core lineup, seasonal flavours, and limited release alcoholic beverages, all of which have been produced with organic and mostly local ingredients.
London Brewing Co-operative
In 2019, the London Brewing Co-operative updated its existing recipe to solely include organic ingredients in its beers. The London Organic Lager and the Front Porch Organic Session IPA were the two first organic beers released by the co-operative. Nearly two years later, the London-based brewery has several options on its online store that are certified as organic.
As well as producing organic beer, the London Brewing Co-operative works alongside other local organic businesses in Southwestern Ontario. The brewery connects with local organic farmers to source their ingredients through On the Move Organic, and have partnered with The Root Cellar Organic Café to serve its beers.
Collectif Brassicole Ensemble
La Collectif Brassicole Ensemble, previously known as New Deal Brewing Co., started when five entrepreneurs created three new craft beers that were socially responsible and certified organic. Today, it is a collective brewery that produces organic beer for five different brands — Boldwin, Vagabond, Des Cantons, Loop and Tangram. Each brand has its own unique packaging and taste, and is made from organic ingredients. Collectif Brassicole Ensemble values sustainability in its brands and collaborates with local businesses to avoid waste. Bières biologiques Boldwin even partnered with a local bakery in Boucherville to create a new type of organic bread with leftover barley from the distilling process.
Tatamagouche Brewing Co.
Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
Tatamagouche Brewing Co. opened in the village of Tatamagouche in 2014 after the owners bought an old butchery and turned it into a family-owned brewery. At this location, they continue to brew and serve their traditional and more original flavourful beers, including Guava Heist Berliner Weisse, Dekorum Mandarin Light and Dekorum Blood Orange Light Lager. The brewery’s online selection also includes beers that were curated in partnership with local homebrewers.
Big Spruce Brewing
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
On Canada’s Atlantic coast, Melanie and Jeremy White purchased a 100-acre farm in Cape Breton and began growing their own hops. This decision led them to opening their own organic on-farm brewery called Big Spruce Brewing. Since it opened in 2013, they have curated and brewed over 30 different flavours and have partnered with several local businesses. The brewery’s current selection includes the Kitchen Party Pale Ale, Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout and the Tag! You’re It! IPA.
Organic Beer Across Canada
While other breweries in Canada might not purely specialize in certified organic beers, many of them are beginning to hop on this trend. Mill Street Brewery and Beau’s Brewing Co. are among some of the well-established breweries that offer an organic lager and other types of organic beer. Many of these breweries are open for customers (depending on government restrictions), and allow beer lovers to experience the process and taste some of their beers. Who knows, you might even find your next drink of choice!
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a certified organic brewery, please see COG’s Guide to the Canadian Organic Standards 2020. Click on Preparation and Processing in the drop-down menu.
For more information about producing organic beer in Canada, please see How to Grow Hops.