The Lion Brewery Inc. in Wilkes-Barre has become the first Pennsylvania brewery to be certified organic under the new rules promulgated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last October. In March the brewery began producing its first organic product, a green tea-flavored soft drink called Steap Soda.
According to spokesperson Amy Sorber, the Lion had to undergo a rigorous inspection to receive the certification, which encompassed every aspect of production from where the ingredients are stored to the warehousing of the finished product. The raw materials themselves also had to be certified free of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and preservatives. Quality Assurance International, a California-based certification institution, gave the Lion its approval. To maintain its certification, the Lion will be subject to yearly inspections and periodic auditing of the finished products on retailers’ shelves.
Steap Soda uses organic cane juice as sweetener and is available in 12-oz bottles in six flavors: Cola, Raspberry, Lemon Dew, Orange, Key Lime and Root Beer. The sodas have also been declared kosher by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.
The Lion makes the sodas under contract for The Healthy Beverage Company in Bucks County, PA. Liberty Richter in Saddle Brook, NJ is distributing them nationwide.
The Lion, which brews the Stegmaier and Pocono lines of beers, has no immediate plans to produce an organic malt beverage, said Sorber.