It had to happen: Organic beer is here

October 27, 1991|By New York Daily News

Tired of kiwi berries, raspberry vinegar and tiramisu? A small, upscale brew importer hopes to awaken your jaded taste buds with a new taste fad -- organic beer.

On the would-be cutting edge in organic beverage trends are two German beers -- Pinkus Ur Pils and Pinkus Original Weizen Beer. Both are carbonated naturally and made from organically grown barley malt, whole dried German hops, artesian well water and bottom-fermenting yeast.

Organic wine is already popular. It's estimated that 150,000 cases of organic wine now are consumed each year in the United States, as compared to 50,000 just five years ago. In the same period, organic grape acreage in California has soared from 500 to 2,000 acres.

Why the sudden organic evolution? "We think there's a health-conscious market," says Joe Lipa, vice president of Merchant DuVin-East, the Lenox, Mass., firm that is importing Pinkus. "Every fine wine store now handles a line of organic wine and this is just following that idea."

Merchant plans to start labeling the beer "organic" in big letters. Mr. Lipa notes that when his firm began quietly bringing in Pinkus products about seven years ago, the beer was thought of only as having "magnificent taste." "We could have said it was organic, but no one gave a hoot," Mr. Lipa says. But recently, he noticed that wines labeled "organic" were very successful.

Among the restaurants that carry Pinkus is Nosmo King in New York, where the beer was featured at a recent open house for organic wines and beers.

Ironically, on a recent warm evening, several of the people appreciatively sipping beer at the bar were involved in the wine trade. Wine consultant Peter Hoepfner, voting for the pilsner variety of Pinkus, said, "It's got clean stong hops. That's very important. They don't scrimp on it like cheap American beers."

Candela Prol, a former chef, voted for the wheat beer over the pilsner. "It's not quite as dry, it's very refreshing, light and more delicate. A lot of flavor. It has depth."

Cory Hill, a headwaiter who has taken up home brewing, said he had found the makings for organic beer, but he had to go as far afield as San Jose, Calif., and Dearborn, Mich.

Mr. Lipa has no doubts that some microbrewery will get into the act if Pinkus sells well. He notes that after his firm began bringing in oatmeal beer, a domestic variety arrived.

Pinkus sells for $4 a bottle at local bars and $16.56 for a six-pack.

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