Free Range Organic Growth

Brewery and Country of Origin: Otter Creek/Wolaver's of 793 Exchange Street, Middlebury, VT, 05753-1193, USA

Date Reviewed: 12-10-12

Well, here we are. We're only 21 days until the end of 2012 (unless the world ends on December 21st, and yet we still don't have any flying cars, commercial flights to Mars, or 1000 storey buildings. Still, humanity is making a lot of progress. Unfortunately, while our technology and development is growing, our waistlines are too. Some things have been done to help curb this rather sad trend, but clearly not enough. The numbers are quite staggering. In terms of cost alone, obesity inflated medical care costs in America in 2008 by $147 billion. In 2010, that number grew to $191 billion. Today, obesity increases medical care costs by more than $210 billion, or about a quarter of all medical costs. Currently, about one third of all toddlers and small kids are obese. And while the same can be said for adults today, the CDC predicts that at current trends, 40% of American adult men will be obese, while a total 78% will be overweight in the year 2020. And perhaps the most depressing of all is what can be said about preventable diseases and death caused by obesity. Either way, we can safely say that at least in the US, not enough is done about it. So is organic food a possible solution? Well, let's take a look at the industry. Since its passing in 1990, The Organic Foods Production Act serves to strictly outline what can go into foods classified and marketed as being organic. The National Organic Program certifies that foods and beverages are made with at least 95% organic materials (or 100% for more strict certification) by way of organic processes (preservatives, pesticides, etc). This is a Federal effort which is responsible for distributing the green licenses to manufacturers which inform potential buyers that their goods are USDA Certified Organic (the green and white circle on the label). Organic foods have seen a huge rise in popularity and growth, increasing in sales in the US by 19% a year, while normal foods' growth has slowed to only 2% recently. Today, the organic food industry accounts for roughly 4% of all food sales in America. And yet, while all of this growth is promising to independent organic farmers (many of which aren't actually independent at all because companies like Monsanto or Cargill have acquired them recently), there really is no substantial scientific evidence showing that it's worth it. For one thing, no major scientific studies have found that organic foods are safer or healthier for people to eat than normal foods, and customers can expect to spend anywhere between 10 to 70% more for organic foods. The benefits of pesticides and preservatives used in normal foods and crops have been found to nearly mitigate their disadvantages, while organic foods are more susceptible to infestation, microbiological contamination from manure, the negatives of natural pesticides and fungicides (yes, organic foods are still protected), and of course, snootiness. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no evidence in the last 50 years that suggests organic foods are more nutritious than non organic foods. That said, a normal apple will have to be washed more before it's eaten, while an organic apple won't really. But that aside, it's still good to know that although they may be wasting their money more than anything else, people do care about their health. Unfortunately, organic foods aren't currently the solution. Perhaps they should just invest in a pair of running trainers instead.
Date Sampled: 11-30-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: American Brown Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 5.70%
Serving Type: 12 oz Bottle, 16 oz Stange Glass
Rating: 2.32


The Brown Ale pours very choppy with a huge amount of carbonation action, generating an extremely large dense foam head with a good retention. This brew has a dark amber color with an unfiltered, somewhat hazy appearance. This beer shows a moderate amount of lacing on the glass. This beer's unfiltered appearance gives it a dull shine.


This beer's very large foam presence gives it a very pungent aroma with an overpowering and basically undesirable strength. There is a coppery caramel and somewhat sweet malty aroma with a very small, but noticeable amount of hops. There is some metallic character in the aroma.


This is a medium bodied beer with a moderately high level of carbonation (though much of it is activated at the first pour), giving it a balance between crispness and substance. There is a fair bit of weight and a lighter than average viscosity. This beer finishes with a slightly dry, but dull and unclean finish.


Wolaver's beer has a caramel and sweet malty flavor with a small amount of metallic taste detectable through the entire flavor profile - unfortunately. There is a malty presence until the finish, with a dull hoppy bitterness and a short lived hoppy, and still metallic aftertaste. This beer's metallic taste is its worst attribute.

Our Take

As you can see on the bottle (pictured above), this beer is USDA Certified Organic, meaning it has been brewed in an organic friendly way, using at least 95% organic ingredients (There is a separate 100% Organic certification for ultra-hippie products). And while it is cool to see that certain brewers are in tune with the times, we can't really see the benefits yet. While this beer had a few higher points, it was mostly a disappointment. With an overpowering aroma, undesirable aftertaste, and metallic character, this beer is not exactly what you should be spending a higher premium for, and though we think the idea of an organic beer is still immature, we'd like to see more beers marketed for using simple, natural, and hopefully, better tasting ingredients. They're out there, they cost more, and they're USDA certified. We haven't found them yet, and to be honest, we're getting a bit tired of a href=""> trying gluten free beers for now. We'll get back to that sometime, but for now, it's time to focus our attention to more important matters: Winter Stouts and Porters.