Organic Ingredients have experienced a great rise in popularity in recent years, mostly as a reaction to the way food is grown throughout the world. The extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and the advent of genetically modified foods have led to a renewed interest in traditional farming methods. Beer is a “natural” product and even in the largest breweries in the world is still generally made using traditional ingredients and processes that date back centuries. Beer is made from malted barley, malted wheat, and various cereal grains, as well as water, hops, and yeast, along with a number of simple process aids. Most of these can be produced in ways that allows them to be labeled “organic.” Brewers of organic beers tend to focus on the organic certifications of the agricultural ingredients they use in their beers, namely barley, wheat, cereal grain, and hops. In order for these to be labeled as organic, they need to be grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides unless they appear on a list of exempt and thus allowed substances. Soil preparation, planting, growing, harvesting, and processing need to be overseen by a certifying agency to ensure compliance. Great efforts are taken to ensure the organic integrity of the ingredients, including measures to guarantee that there is no possibility of mingling with non- organic ingredients. This strict control extends to the manufacturing process in the brewery as well and involves the creation of a paper trail for the seamless tracing of every ingredient in a beer all the way back to the farmer who grew it. Hops and cereal plants are susceptible to many diseases, and development of organic markets in beer ingredients has been slow. The quality of organic malts and hops, once widely considered marginal, has improved considerably, and interest in these ingredients has continued to increase.

Different countries have different certification systems with varying degrees of stringency and scope. In the United States the certification of maltsters, hop growers, and brewers was originally handled at a local level by private certifying agencies. Each had their own set of rules. Since 2002, however, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has offered a USDA certification for organic products that uses the local certifying agencies plus a standardized set of rules that ensure the integrity of products labeled organic. This led to the creation of the National Organic Program (NOP) and a list of ingredients that are non-organic yet still may be included in certified organic products. On this list are the following items of interest to brewers: several acids (as long as they are naturally produced), agar-agar, bentonite, calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, carbon dioxide, carrageenan, diatomaceous earth (as a food filtering aid only), enzymes, hydrogen peroxide, magnesium sulfate, malic acid, microorganisms (any food grade bacteria, fungi, and other microorganism), nitrogen, oxygen, peracetic acid, perlite, potassium chloride, potassium iodide, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, and yeast. Beer that includes these ingredients at levels below 5% of the total dry weight of its ingredients or uses them as process aids are permitted to be labeled as certified organic. The items on the NOP list are frequently reviewed and may be removed should a reliable organically produced source become available. Hops were once on the NOP list, but on October 28, 2010 the National Organics Standards Board unanimously voted in favor of the removal of hops from the list, effective January of 2013. After this date, any beer certified organic in the United States will contain organically certified hops only. Certifying agencies—many with differing rules as to what is allowed as a nonorganic beer ingredient—exist in several countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, India, Ireland, Greece, Belgium, China, Japan, and the central offices of the European Union in Belgium.

See also environmental issues.