Monday, August 10, 2009

Sustainable Beers: Sierra Nevada Estate Ale

While at the bar the other day with fellow co-workers and enjoying a beer or two, a question arose.  They had been poking fun at me for supporting local and sustainable agriculture.  Combined with the bar atmosphere, this led me to wonder: Is there a sustainable beer?

The answer, I found after some research, is yes.

There are many organic beers out there, but sustainable beers were nearly unseen until this year. Sierra Nevada brewery recently unveiled its Chico Estate Harvest Ale, a completely sustainable brew. Recent dining trends predict that beer is the new wine in the high-end restaurant industry. More and more often you will see beer pairings instead of wine, because usually beer goes better with food. In NYC there is even a cupcake shop -- Sweet Revenge -- that pairs its sweet treats with an assortment of beers.

High-end brewers are seeing increases in sales, and people are demanding more complex beers that expand the spectrum of flavor combinations and pairings. With its new estate beer, Sierra Nevada has taken the high-end beer trend one step further.

Like estate wines, Sierra Nevada has been growing all of the ingredients on a plot of land next to the brewery. Although they don't have enough land to grow all the ingredients for all of their beer varieties, they are producing this one specialty brew that's completely sustainable. In the next few years, I'm sure we will see this trend expanding to an increasing number of microbreweries.

With high-end brews comes high-end clientèle. So when going to your next beer fest, leave behind the Led Zeppelin t-shirt and ripped jeans in favor of your finest suit and tie.

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