As health-conscious as so many New Yorkers seem to be these days, it’s hard to believe that the Empire State has been without its own brand of organic beer. Until now. This week, Smart Beer Organic Golden Ale hits shelves across the five boroughs. The non-GMO craft brew is produced an hour upriver, in New Paltz. So it comes with the added allure of being (kinda) local. But is it any good? Only one way to find out: crack open a bottle of our beer of the week.
Beyond their color, golden ales are characterized by a crisp, lighter body and muted fruitiness on the palate. They tend to be broadly accessible, appealing, even, to traditional lager lovers. Smart Beer’s entry into the category comfortably hits those marks. Brewed with orange peel and licorice root, it opens up to reveal a peppery zest, distantly reminiscent of a Belgian-style witbier. At 5.5% alcohol, it’s an easy and inviting drink. The flavor profile isn’t defined by its organic, GMO-free origins. It just happens to boast those qualities as an ancillary benefit. Don’t approach it expecting some magical new beer-drinking experience to unfold itself before you. Drink it because it tastes good, and is brewed with worthy ingredients.
When he’s not peddling his new line of libations, Smart Beer’s founder, Gabriel Heymann, spends time as a yoga instructor. “I wanted to enjoy both my social life and my healthy lifestyle,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to sacrifice well-being in order to celebrate life’s moments, and that’s what this beer is about.” That, and a pleasant buzz. Retailing within the same general range as its non-organic counterparts — around $12 a six-pack — you’ll hardly notice a tax for the organic upgrade.
The beer arrives in Brooklyn with a bang tomorrow, as Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick hosts a launch party, starting at 2 p.m. The Smart Beer Brand will soon expand to incorporate several other sought-after styles. Pick up a sixer on your way to your next yoga class. It’s difficult to get much more Brooklyn than that.