There was a time in this country – not too long ago, in fact – when it was illegal in most states to brew beer and then offer it for sale directly to the public, as in a brewpub setting. Thus, the very concept of the local brewpub that’s now so integral to our country’s craft beer culture was prohibited. However, during the early 1980s, as the first seeds of the American craft beer renaissance were germinating, several enterprising brewers set out to overturn these restrictive laws. One of these pioneers was Bill Owens, who joined with California State Assemblyman Tom Bates (now the mayor of Berkeley) to successfully pass legislation in 1982 that allowed brewpubs in the state of California. Only the second law of its kind in the nation, it heralded a new era for beer in the U.S., as more and more states across the country followed suit and adopted similar legislation. It was a major boost to the better beer movement, helping to expose a whole new generation to the excitement of craft beer. Bill Owens went on to found Bison Brewing Company in Berkeley, CA, and their first beer was brewed in February of 1989.
Now under the leadership of owner and brewer Daniel Del Grande who took over in 1997, Bison Brewing Company is committed wholeheartedly to brewing organic beer, eschewing barley grown with chemical fertilizers and exposure to pesticides and herbicides. While some brewers offer one or two organic beers to appeal to the “green” demographic, Bison embraces energy-efficiency and sustainability in both farming and brewing practices, and brews all of their beers to be certified organic, bearing the USDA Organic seal. Additionally, Bison is known for a history of innovation, brewing beers with such unusual ingredients as sage, basil, honey, chocolate, and cranberries, as well as the ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon featured in this month’s Gingerbread Ale.
For more information about the brewery and their current year-round and seasonal offerings, check out their website at www.bisonbrew.com.