As we inch closer to one of my favorite holidays, St. Patty’s Day, the talk of green beer doesn’t usually surprise me – until recently. In light of the new sustainability craze, sometimes the green before the beer means organic, not festive brew polluted with food coloring.

071217-4copas-vmed-4p_widec.jpgApparently, now even alcohol companies are jumping on the green bandwagon and producing organic vodka, beer, wine, tequila and brandy.

According to an MSNBC article, 4 Copas Tequila, with the slogan “Sip Tequila. Save the World,” is now certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Other prominent companies have also produced organic alcohol products. In Nov. 2007, Anheuser-Busch started producing an organic vodka, Purus. The company was following in the foot steps of its sister companies, Michelob and Budweiser, that started producing organic beer in 2006.

The process of producing organic alcohol is lengthy and expensive, disabling a number of smaller companies from becoming green (see this article for more information on organic brewing). So only corporate alcohol giants with a golden budget have the ability to produce organic products. But are these companies really concerned about the environment or just the bottom line?

The MSNBC article (linked above) states:

Last year, organic beer sales grew 29 percent to hit $25 million, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic wine grew 13 percent to reach $80 million, the association estimates.

As a business professional or sales representative, statistics like these shine brighter than a leprechaun’s pot of gold. But producing organic or green alcohol for the pure fact of increasing sales is against the main objective of the green movement.

Anheuser-Busch learned this lesson first hand with the production of its two organic beers, Wild Hop Lager and Stone Mill organic_beer.jpgPale Ale. According to The ‘Budweiser Exception,'” “Both [beers] were made with 100-percent organic barley malt, but mostly non-organic hops.”

The USDA created a petition, signed by more than 20,000 people, to make the public aware that even though certified organic, Wild Hop Lager and Stone Mill Pale Ale still contained non-organic hops. Obviously, it caught the eye of Anheuser-Busch that is now using 100-percent organic hops.

Despite the media’s current obession with greenwashing, there are some truly green advocates out there, even if they are in the alcohol business. Owners of Coast Brewing, David Merritt and Jaime Tenny, brew with organic ingredients whenever possible.

According to Chris O’Brien’s Beer Activist Blog, whenever the couple was asked why they decided to go green, Jaime responded:

There’s really no other way for us to approach it. How could we live our lives one way and run our business another? . . . At the end of the day, we want to be content with or decisions. We think it’s possible to go green and run a profitable business.

Although Coast Brewing company went green for the right reasons, my concern is that big brewing companies like Anheuser-Busch are only looking to increase sales and promote a positive reputation. Instead of using green initiatives to sustain a resourceful environment, it is using the environment to keep up with the competition.