A toast to organic beer

Mill Street Brewery is partnering with farmers on Canada’s prairies who grow organic barley through old-fashioned, time-honoured techniques like crop rotation and natural fertilization.  supplied

Mill Street Brewery is partnering with farmers on Canada’s prairies who grow organic barley through old-fashioned, time-honoured techniques like crop rotation and natural fertilization. supplied

Pioneers of the Canadian organic beverage supply chain

When they choose organic products, Canadian shoppers are looking for clean and healthy options. They can be reassured that they can extend the trust and confidence they have for seasonal organic produce to a growing portfolio of organic beers. 

At Toronto’s Mill Street Brewery, the brewers pay attention to producing beer made with the finest organic ingredients, with rigorous processes and quality standards every step of the way to ensure supply-chain transparency and traceability. They also work with Canadian farmers to source a secure supply of high-quality organic ingredients to ensure the organic beers are free from artificial additives, preservatives and genetically modified organisms, says Kaitlin Vandenbosch, Mill Street’s new brewmaster.

It began with Mill Street’s flagship Original Organic Lager, an European-style lager that was one of the first beers the brewery produced when it opened its doors in 2002. This was the first organic beer brewed in Ontario and one of the first lagers produced by a craft brewery. 

“It’s one step removed from the farm,” says Ms. Vandenbosch, noting that Mill Street is one of the pioneers of the Canadian organic supply chain. When it first started, the company was committed to brewing a beer with natural ingredients, free from artificial pesticides and fertilizers, she says. But at the time, Canada’s organic certification didn’t even exist, so the brewers followed USDA standards. Mill Street also had to import organic malt from New Zealand, with no Canadian sources.

Today, Original Organic Lager as well as the craft brewer’s Cobblestone Stout, Tankhouse Ale and 100th Meridian Amber Lager are Canada Organic certified beers. And Mill Street has partnered with farmers on Canada’s prairies who grow organic barley through old-fashioned, time-honoured techniques like crop rotation and natural fertilization, which supports a healthier ecosystem and contributes to a healthier food industry. 

Ms. Vandenbosch, 33, who has been with Mill Street for eight years and has a Master’s in Science, Brewing and Distilling from renowned Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, says that the 100 per cent organic, well-balanced taste of Original Organic Lager appeals to an ever-wider audience. It features a delicate floral-herbal aroma and a light malty palate, balanced by a hint of hop bitterness. “This makes it both crisp and refreshing, with lots of versatility, so you can pair it with a range of dishes from grilled chicken to seafood pasta to fresh garden salad. It’s a great summer go-to beer.”

It’s Ontario’s best-selling craft lager and is available across the country. Among its many awards, Original Organic Lager earned a Canada Gold at the 2018 World Beer Awards. “It’s a big honour for us to be recognized among the world’s best,” Ms. Vandenbosch says.

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