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Forbes: What are dirty beers and why are people drinking them?

Beer from the Ground Up

Among those that truly practice what they preach is Arrowood Farms in the Hudson Valley, whose owners rock the slogan, “Beer from the Ground Up.” They, too, breed animals but theirs don’t live quite as much of a life of leisure as Rogue’s. As is a custom taking root in the wine world, Arrowood’s livestock serves an environmental purpose, with pigs eating spent grain, ducks producing high-nitrogen waste that fertilizes the hop fields, sheep eating hop leaves that make the plants more susceptible to mildew, pests and disease, and bees pollinating the brewery’s certified organic crops. Arrowood’s leaders say it’s too early to tell whether or not they’re saving money by growing their own organic crops instead of paying a premium to buy them but as brewmaster Jacob Meglio rationalizes, “It’s hard to put a dollar sign on the freshness.”

Though Arrowood speaks sideways of New York City breweries that qualify for farmhouse status simply by buying ingredients from upstate or maybe tending to a hive of bees, the urban breweries’ ability to adapt does speak to the creativity and the possibilities that can seed the farmhouse concept.

True, Brooklyn brewers may want to avoid plucking mass quantities of horse chestnuts off Prospect Park trees or scavenging for yeast in the gutters of Bed-Sty. But they can leave the city to follow progressive chefs, homebrewers, commercial practitioners and guided groups of weekend warriors into the fields to forage for mushrooms, nettles, honeysuckle and other natural flavorings. Scratch Brewing in Illinois and Fonta Flora Brewery in North Carolina are both making a name for themselves by foraging for their ingredients.

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