When sipping that beer or vodka tonic at the next holiday party, take heart: Your revelry may actually be good for the environment.
Or at least that’s the pitch coming from makers of organic tequila, gin, vodka, brandy, beer and wine that are finding their way onto store shelves and fine restaurant menus – all in the name of healthier socializing and being green.
“Sip tequila and save the world, that’s our motto,” said Enrico Caruso, senior vice president of sales for 4 Copas Tequila, a Newport Beach, Calif., maker of tequila that is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Caruso said 4 Copas uses no pesticides or chemicals in farming the agave plants used in its tequila and uses only organic yeast in fermentation.
Even Anheuser-Busch has jumped into the organic game. Last month the nation’s biggest brewer rolled out Purus, an organic vodka called produced from organic wheat farmed in Italy and water from the Alps. Last year, the brewer introduced two organic craft-style beers, Stonemill Pale Ale and Wild Hops Lager.
While St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch doesn’t plan to go organic with the rest of its brands, including Budweiser and Michelob, the organic drinks serve a niche for certain socially conscious buyers, said Pat McGauley, Anheuser-Busch vice president for innovation. Sales of those two beers have “exceeded expectations,” McGauley said. “We’re really excited about these products.”
There’s a reason. The $6 billion organic food industry is expected to grow 59 percent by 2012, according to Mintel Research. 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.
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