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September 11, 2020

Is Beer Vegan? The Definitive Guide

Maybe you're setting up the red Solo cups in that famous triangle when you suddenly thought, "Is beer vegan?"

Panic fills you as you realize that you're not entirely sure what ingredients are in your favorite beer brand.

Are you going against your vegan lifestyle? Let's take a look at how to determine if beer is vegan.

Can Vegans Have Beer?

Vegans can have beer, but you'll have to do some research to determine if it's vegan most of the time. The alcohol itself is vegan, but the fining process potentially adds animal ingredients. There's also a chance of beer containing honey or milk products.

Why Do Breweries Add Animal Products?

cow, gelatin and isinglass

Beer is made with a fining process that includes animal ingredients.

Finings are substances that are added either near or at the completion of the beer brewing process. It helps reduce clarity by binding compounds.

The most common finings are gelatin and isinglass; gelatin contains skin, bones, and tissues of animals like cattle, while isinglass is a fish bladder.

These sticky animal products make it easy to filter beer.

Since it's not required for breweries to list fining ingredients on their label, they rarely do so. This makes it hard for the average person to tell if a beer brand is vegan.

However, times have changed, and breweries are picking up on new fining and filtration processes.

Modern filtration equipment has been developed, which reduces the clarity of beer without having to use animal products.

The trend is picking up in recent years. Most notably, Guinness installed new equipment in 2017 and made their famous Extra Stout beer vegan [1].

Our new state-of-the-art filtration process has removed the use of isinglass as a means of filtration and vegans can now enjoy a pint of Guinness Draught, whether from the keg, bottle or from a can.

 

- Guinness

These days, only traditional breweries stick to using animal products for the fining process.

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How Can I Tell If A Beer Is Vegan?

vegan beer ingredients

There are 2 ways to tell if a beer is vegan.

The first step is to determine the fining process. Beers have ingredient labels, but they aren't legally required to list the ingredients of their fining process.

You will have to do some research into what fining and filtration process the beer brand uses to determine if they are vegan-friendly.

The second step is to take a look at the ingredient list. Most of the time, beer is simply a combination of water, malted barley, yeast, and hops. These ingredients aren't a problem for vegans.

Although occasionally, they may have ingredients like honey or milk, which are not appropriate for the vegan lifestyle.

What Is In Beer That Is Not Vegan?

The most common ingredients in beer that are not vegan are gelatin or isinglass[2]. They are animal by-products that are traditionally used in the fining process. You should also look for ingredients like milk or honey to determine if a beer is vegan-friendly.

What Beers Are Vegan?

Vegan beer products

Not everyone has the time to thoroughly investigate every beer they want to try, which is why I came up with this shortlist of breweries and their vegan beers. It's not a comprehensive list, but it should get you started.

1. Anderson Valley Brewing Company

  • Boont Amber Ale
  • Hop Ottin' IPA
  • Poleeko Gold Pale Ale

2. Anheuser-Busch

  • Bud Light
  • Budweiser
  • Michelob

3. Bayhawk Ales

  • Bayhawk Stout
  • Tommy Bahama Brew
  • Primo Hefe Weizen

 

4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Stout
  • Sierra Nevada Porter

5. New Belgium Brewery

  • 1554 Black Lager
  • Blue Paddle Pilsner
  • Sunshine Wheat Beer

Can I Make My Own Vegan Beer?

beers on table

You can definitely make your own vegan beer.

If beer brewing sounds like a fun hobby for you, then you can buy your own equipment and ingredients to set up your vegan brewery at home.

It takes some time and dedication, but you can make yourself your own vegan beer perfectly suited to your taste.

Not only that, but I'll be jealous of your beer brewing skills.

Do Restaurants Serve Vegan Beer?

Restaurants most likely serve vegan beer. You could always check online to see their beer selection beforehand or know which popular beers, like Budweiser, are vegan-friendly and most likely at your favorite restaurant.

Otherwise, I would be surprised if your waiter would happen to know which beers are suitable for vegans.

Does Vegan Beer Taste Good?

Vegan beer does taste good! You can hardly tell the difference from beer that was made with the latest vegan-friendly filtration process versus the traditional process, which uses animal products.

Of course, beer tastes vary for different people. You could also come across a brand that you don't like, but it's not because it is or isn't vegan.

Other Resources You May Like:

Conclusion

So now you have the answer to "Is beer vegan?" You can go back to setting up your red Solo cups in peace.

All it takes is a little research into a brewing company to figure out which fining and filtration process they use to determine if it's vegan-appropriate.

If you can't find this information, then I would err on the side of caution and avoid drinking that beer. There are plenty of other options for vegan beer.


References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/business/guinness-is-going-vegan.html
https://foodbabe.com/the-shocking-ingredients-in-beer/


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