Still drinking responsibly

Last week, SN&R wrote about its “green” beer tasting. The premise: Take local versus organic beers head-to-foamy-head with a taste test. At the end, we had one point for team organic and one point for team local, so we adjourned to focus our buzzed energy on other pursuits—like pizza. This week, we bring you our notes on dark beer, specifically a Russian Imperial stout from Sacramento Brewing Company and an oatmeal stout from organic Bison Brewing Company in Berkeley. And what did we decide?

To be fair, Imperial errs on the side of berry notes and burnt malt, while an oatmeal stout is sweeter, with hints of coffee or toffee. The oatmeal stout delivered what it promised: a chalky, burnt coffee flavor with just the right hint of sweetness. The malt was strong. The hops were light. And our tasters loved it.

The Russian Imperial stout was muted—surprising since it was traditionally brewed extra strong to survive exporting during the era of empress Catherine the Great of Russia. Aside from a quick bite of hops, its berry notes and hints of alcohol were subtly detected.

It’s hard to choose a clear winner between two brews that are supposed to taste different. But perhaps that’s symbolic of the local vs. organic debate. Both have their merits. Organic ensures consumption of a healthy product, free of pesticides and toxins that can harm the body and the environment. On the other hand, buying local ensures that it takes fewer gas-guzzling miles to deliver that brew to your mouth. Either way, it’s a choice you make for the sake of personal health and the environment. Whatever choice you make between organic and locally bottled beer, you’ll be drinking sustainably. Just, please, drink responsibly.