Late Friday afternoon, we received official notification from the Texas Department of Agriculture that Jester King is now a certified organic producer under the USDA’s National Organic Program. This makes us the first, and as of today, the only brewery in Texas authorized to label our beers as certified organic.
The first of our beers to carry certified organic labeling will be this year’s version of Drink’in the Sunbelt Hoppy Wheat Beer, followed by our next batches of Mad Meg Farmhouse Provision Ale and Boxer’s Revenge Barrel-Aged Wild Ale. Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Table Beer, Noble King Hoppy Farmhouse Ale, Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye IPA, Das Wunderkind! Sour Saison, and Bonnie the Rare Berliner Weisse also received full organic certification and will be labeled as such once we run through our current stock of labels. Black Metal Farmhouse Imperial Stout, which is over 70% organic, but uses a small amount of non-organic specialty malt, has been certified “Made with Organic Ingredients” and will carry the Texas Department of Agriculture seal, the next time labels are printed.
We believe that if a brewery is committed to organic production, that commitment ought to extend to all of its products and not just a single beer. For this reason, since we first began brewing over a year and half ago we’ve used organic ingredients in every instance where we felt confident we could do so without detracting from the overall quality of our beer. We’ve done this even when it means paying 2-3 times as much for ingredients as we otherwise would, such as is the case with Weyermann Organic Pilsner Malt, which we use as a base malt for many of our beers. Fortunately, the range of organic ingredients available to us has continued to grow, and for the last several months, we’ve been able to use increasingly larger quantities of organic ingredients in our recipes, to the point that the majority of our beers now use 100% organic malt.
As for hops, the varieties we’re currently using are not certified organic; but that is in the process of changing. Given the critical role that hop flavors and aromas play in our beer, we’re being careful that our transition to organic hops does not compromise the character of our beer in any way. Over the last several months, we have been testing organic varieties from numerous suppliers. We’ve found some that we feel are of exceptional quality and that we will soon start testing on a larger scale. As of the first of next year, the National Organic Program will require all brewers wishing to label their beer as “Organic” to use exclusively organic hops.
In instances where certain ingredients cannot be found organically or where the organic versions that are available aren’t as good as their conventional counterparts, we will continue to hold the quality of our beer above all else. Even if a particular beer doesn’t meet the organic labeling requirements, we’ll continue, as we always have, to use as high of a percentage of organic ingredients as we can without compromising our quality standards. We’re very pleased and honored to be allowed to label our beers as “Certified Organic” but at the end of the day, creating the greatest depth, harmony and complexity of flavor that we can is and always will be what we consider most important.