Brewery Showcase | LaGrow Beer Co. Organic Craft Beer
Don’t think of LaGrow Beer Company as an organic brewery; think of it as a family-owned brewery dedicated to using the purest ingredients imaginable, from soil to suds.
At LaGrow, the ingredients used are pure, which results in a beer abound in flavor and exceptionally crisp, clean and fresh. Even if one doesn’t care about ingesting chemicals, the resultant flavor derived from chemical-free ingredients is sure to please any beer drinker, from beer geek to macro fan.
Better ingredients, better beer.
[Note: I met with all three of the LaGrow Brothers. For ease, I’ll simply credit all answers to "LaGrow.” A picture of the three LaGrow boys can be found below.]
The term “organic” can confuse those who haven’t taken the time to understand its meaning. It’s not a “health-nut” beer or even gluten free. “It’s more about not wanting crap in your beer. I mean, why have all those chemicals that don’t do anything to enhance the taste of the beer?,” said LaGrow.
Some hop farms, for instance, in order to grow a new breed of hops, simply douse a field with Round Up. The herbicide effectively destroys all the remnants of the old hop variety so that a new one can grow in its place.
Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that the soil doesn’t easily shed those chemicals (herbicides, etc). More and more research notes how chemicals remain in the soil (and subsequently in the plants) for a lengthy period. You may think the boiling process cleanses the chemicals attached to the grains and hops arriving to breweries, but that’s not really the case.
LaGrow would prefer not to include those chemicals in your beer.
I mean, think about it. The craft industry rescued fans from having to drink beers full of adjuncts. Why would we want the grains and hops going into the beer to be anything other than natural and pure?
So, the three LaGrow brothers, originally from Michigan, sought to open an organic brewery in their new Chicago home. However, they weren’t sure if that business model would be possible or economically feasible. Through research, they discovered a solution back in their home state of Michigan — Carr Creek Farms and the Midwest Organic Hops (an alliance of five Michigan farms) produce 100% certified organic hops. Additionally, those farms’ commitment to sustainability suited the LaGrow brothers well, too.
From there, they discovered that they could obtain all the ingredients to open an organic beer company. Hence, Chicago’s LaGrow Beer Company was born.
Emblematic of the craft-community manta, the hop farms can grow as LaGrow expands. The farmers are able to accommodate LaGrow’s desire for more, or new hops. Ultimately, that’s good for everyone because expanding organic farms means less contaminated soils, and that’s good for everyone.
How does LaGrow Organic Beer taste?
Obviously, most beer drinkers will possess a natural curiousness regarding organic beer. Heck, they may even be a bit skeptical. Unless you’ve tried an organic beer, you won’t really know how it will taste.
And LaGrow was one of them.
“We had no idea what to expect when brewing with organic ingredients. We didn’t know. But we drank it and were like ‘WOW!’ We were surprised that, it wasn’t just good. It was actually better!”
I was also curious. I’ll be honest; I didn’t know what to expect.
Guess what? It was absolutely delicious. And, why not? Organic ingredients are not weird ingredients. It’s not tofu getting added to the LaGrow beer. It’s the same thing that goes into every beer, but without the chemical additives coming along for the ride.
“The pure and simple ingredients are what beer should be, and what it has always been. We don’t use anything else…There are so many hops and grains out there. You don’t need anything else,” said LaGrow. “It’s more about not wanting crap in your beer.”
I first tried LaGrow Citra Blonde Ale (5.15 ABV | 20 IBU) with organic orange zest, Citra, barley and oats. The citrus-orange aroma led the way for the lovely hops bitterness that’s accentuated by a noticeable citrus zing. The stellar level of acidity reminded one of what makes a beer taste like a real beer — a little fizz, nice malt, lots of flavor and it finished just a touch dry.
The beer is so fresh you can’t help but want more. It has all the allure and refreshment of a bright summer cocktail, but all the flavorful malt and hops taste that makes for a sensational beer.
The Pale Ale and English-Style IPA followed suit — both solid beers that could easily quell any tensions derived from a long day at work. I think “ahhh” would be the typical reaction to one’s first sip of either beer.
Introducing LaGrow Beer to more people
LaGrow explained, “It is a challenge to step away from the organic. You get some people that see organic and think it’s just a gimmick. We definitely don’t want to be known for that. We want to be known as good brewers first. The Organic aspect is the second layer.”
While letting writers have the beer, or offering tastings at stores and fests, is a step in the right direction; the best way to bring attention to one’s beer in 2018 is through the operation of a taproom.
LaGrow currently shares a production space with Smylie Brothers Brewing (of Evanston, IL) in a space once owned by the now-defunct Aquanaut Brewing. While it’s a good space, its proximity to a nearby school makes it illegal to build a taproom in that building. So, they must look elsewhere.
“We really love Chicago. But, if the suburbs offer us an opportunity, we’ll take it. Right now, though, our plan is to build in the city. And, we might have food. The last thing we want to do is get too caught up in the food side of things, but some small, organic dishes is something we’d love to include in the future,” noted LaGrow.
Whatever the LaGrow brothers find, it’s difficult to imagine they won’t realize success.
The more beer I drink, the more I enjoy it, and the more I enjoy it, the more I don’t really care what’s in it.
Luckily, the LaGrow brothers do care, and that’s why the beer tastes so good.