It took four months and 160 regulatory forms for Ukiah Brewing Co. & Restaurant to become the second certified-organic restaurant in the country in June 2001, following in the footsteps of Restaurant Nora in Washington DC. The Ukiah, Calif., restaurant specializes in organically brewed beers. “When we first had the concept, there weren’t any organic hops and barley available,” says Els Cooperrider, who co-owns the operation with her husband, Allen. The growing availability of organic foods helped the Cooperriders find the best organic ingredients for the restaurant’s beer selection. “We brew 12 beers now. We were not able to do that three years ago,” she adds.
The beers, which are brewed by the Cooperriders’ son, Bret, include golden ales, lagers and stouts, and are “a big attraction,” she says. The restaurant isn’t tapping into the organic trend with beer alone. “We have a complete wine list that features a whole array of organic wines grown [locally] in Mendocino County, Calif.,” says Cooperrider. “It’s nice for tourists to come and see we have a complete [local] wine list.”
To get certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers, Ukiah Brewing Co. provided records indicating that everything in the restaurant–down to its cleaning products-was acceptable for the organics industry.
“We’re not just doing food, beer and wine; the whole operations supports the concept of sustainable organic living,” says Cooperrider. “And so far, it’s working out really well.”