We recently had the pleasure of meeting with Sam Smith of Samuel Smith Brewery at Top Hops in New York City. He was kind enough to write this piece to introduce his brewery to Organic Wine Journal readers.
Samuel Smith’s is a small independent brewery based in Tadcaster in the county of Yorkshire in the North of England. We brew at Yorkshire’s oldest brewery, established in 1758. This extraordinary heritage is reflected in our use of traditional brewing methods, such as utilizing the classic Yorkshire stone square system of fermentation and delivering beer with a team of shire horses.
Our range of beers is regarded as one of the finest in the world, encompassing the classic British brewing styles. We are pioneers in organic brewing, with a broad range now encompassing 7 organically certifed beers and 1 organic cider. The brewery first started brewing organic beers in the mid 1990s, when the organic movement was still very much in its infancy. The quality of the beers, and the increasing interest in knowing where our food and drink comes from, has led to continually increased sales ever since then.
The brewery has to search far and wide to find good enough organic ingredients, with good organic hops being particularly hard to source. The hop plant can be very susceptible to mildew, thus finding hops of sufficient quality that have not been chemically treated can be a real challenge. Fortunately the brewery has some great partners as hop merchants who help us track down what they need.
Unlike many other breweries, all of Samuel Smith’s beers are brewed solely from natural ingredients. They are also all certified as vegan friendly and grown free from the use of artificial pesticides, fertilizers, growth agents or GM, which are becoming ever more prevalent in what we consume.
The staple organic beers are the Organic Pale Ale and the Pure Brewed Organic Lager. More recent additions to the range are the four organic fruit beers: raspberry, strawberry, cherry and apricot. These delicious beers are brewed from organic malt and hops and then blended with organic fruit. The brewery believes these to be the only organic fruit beers in the world – these unique beers are bursting with fresh fruit flavor and are quite delicious accompaniments to brunch.
The most recent addition to the Samuel Smith’s organic range is the Organic Chocolate Stout. The brewery has a reputation for brewing some of the finest stouts in the world, so we decided to develop an organic stout and thought it would make for a delicious beer if it could be brewed with organic cocoa. The result is an extraordinary beer which combines delicious milk chocolate flavors with a dry roasted malt body. The label on the bottle carries a picture of a cocoa bean and the latin term for the cocoa plant – ‘Theobroma Cacao’ – translated as ‘food of the gods’. After drinking the beer, we believe this phrase to be fully accurate.
As well as beer, the brewery has made cider for many years and more recently decided to start producing an organic cider. We source organic apples, which are then fermented to produce a brilliant medium dry cider which appeals to a broad range of drinkers. According to the ‘dirty dozen’ on organic.org, apples are one of the food stuffs we eat which is most contaminated by pesticide residues. This is why it is important to drink organic cider.
Having tasted all these beers it becomes apparent how exciting and fun it can be to appreciate good beer. Like fine wines, they combine different flavor profiles, which makes for a delicious drinking experience. Furthermore, like fine wines, these fine beers should be paired with food to enhance a meal. It could even be argued that tasting good beer is more exciting than tasting good wine, since the diversity in flavor can be so much more broad.