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ST. LOUIS -- As microbrews and unique beers gain popularity, Anheuser-Busch (A-B) has taken notice. It unveiled a new "unique" beer, Wild Hop Lager, which is an organic beer being test-marketed in California.
If successful, the product could move east, but there are no definitive plans as of yet.
The innovative product is causing a pain in traditional microbrews' sides. Organic brewers often face inconsistency in supplies and materials, according to a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"If you're a farmer, why commit if there's no demand," said Jon Cadoux, founder of Peak Organic Brewing.
With large players like A-B in the market, farmers may be more willing to drop the pesticides and fertilizers, improving supply lines, but demand from a large brewer could create more competition, the report said.
"The tiniest effort by A-B will draw more attention to organic lifestyle than the rest of us could ever accomplish," said Max Oswald, director of sales and marketing for Wolavers Organic Ales.
It could also open up a new organic market in the U.S. Currently the U.S. is the number one producer of hops in the world, but none are organically grown.
Organic brewers get their hops from New Zealand, but few varieties are available. "Hops are the biggest challenge. The problem is when one farmer in, say, Yakima Valley, Wash., decides to grow a few acres organically while all the other ones are using pesticides, that one farm becomes a target for all the pests," Cadoux told The Philadelphia Inquirer.