Veganism is about plant-based foods, leather and down alternatives, and a general philosophy that refrains from animal cruelty, as well as other forms of exploitation. But what about your booze? New vegans who enjoy a drink from time to time will sooner or later have to confront the topic and ask themselves: Is beer vegan?
The majority of beers are vegan. However, there are a few breweries that use animal products in the process, such as gelatin and isinglass. Usually, animal ingredients are used as clarifying agents, but other parts can also add to flavor and coloring. A commonly used vegan-friendly fining agent on the other hand is Irish moss.
Let’s dive a little deeper and see what animal products and plant-based ingredients are used by which breweries, and how to identify vegan-friendly beer.
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What Makes Beer Vegan?
The four main ingredients of beer are water, malted grains (usually barley), hops and yeast. So far so good, that’s 100% vegan. What decides whether a beer is vegan or not is the production process.
The following additives and methods can make beer unsuitable for vegans:
By binding to haze-causing particles like yeast, finings make it easier to filter beer. Several sources state that this practice was developed around the 19th century when pale ales and glassware (as opposed to darker beer in ceramic mugs) became more popular. Makes sense – if you can actually see what’s in your glass, you prefer clear beer over some hazy drink, I guess.
While it is not necessary to use animal products for the clarifying process, some breweries still include them. A few common examples are chitin, a fiber from the exoskeletons of lobsters, crabs, and shrimp, casein, an animal protein, and gelatin.
However, the majority of beer brands relies on plant-based ingredients. Not necessarily only because they are vegan-friendly, but also because they are more reliable and cost effective.
The following finings agents are 100% vegan and commonly used in breweries:
- Vegetable plaques
- Bentonite clay
- Kaolin clay
- Plant casein
- Silica gel
Glycerol Monostearate (GMS)
Some beers also contain an animal product called glycerol monostearate, or GMS. It is used to create the foam on the beer.
Lactose is commonly used in Stouts. But it’s not only dark beers that contain the milk sugar. Breweries have also started to experiment with lactose in other beers, such as lager and sour ales. It naturally adds the sweetness that some beer drinkers are looking for.
Honey is used for a similar purpose. It sweetens the beer and gives it a unique flavor.
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What Beer Has Animal Products in It?
We have now established that you can be sure that the majority of beers is made using plant-based ingredients. To give you an idea which breweries produce non-vegan booze, here are some examples.
- Fosters Lager UK. However, Fosters that is produced in the US and Australia is vegan-friendly!
- Hobgoblin (UK)
- Adnams. However, they also offer vegan options. (UK)
- Äppler (Germany)
- Ashover (UK)
- Ayr (Scotland)
- Beer Brothers. However, while several of their beers contain animal products, they also offer a range of vegan beers. (UK)
- Black Heart. However, they also offer a range of vegan beers. (Australia)
- Bowman (England)
- Bowness (England)
- Campervan. However, they also offer vegan options. (Scotland)
- Castle Rock. However, they have plant-based beers available, as well. (England)
- Durty Bull. However, this applies only to a small minority of their offers. (USA)
- Everards. However, they also offer vegan options. (UK)
- Galmegi (South Korea)
- Giant Brewing. They have a few vegan options, too. (New Zealand)
- Goacher’s (England)
- Goddard’s. With the exception of their Planet Lager (England)
- Gorilla (South Korea)
- Gower (Wales)
- Grain Brewery, with a few exceptions (England)
- Great Heck, with a few exceptions (England)
- Greenmill (England)
- Hanlons (England)
- Hop Studio (England)
- Horny Goat, with exceptions (USA)
- Iron Peer. However, they also offer vegan options. (England)
- Jennings (England)
- Kelham (England)
- Lacons (England)
- Laurelwood, with exceptions (USA)
- Leinenkugel’s. However, they also offer a range of vegan options (USA)
- Maltsmith’s (Scotland)
- Merry Miner (England)
- Milton Brewery, with few exceptions (England)
- Nottingham (England)
- Not Your Father’s Root Beer & Ginger Ale (USA)
- Old Dairy (England)
- Pyramid. However, the majority of their beers is vegan (USA)
- Rat Brewery, with few exceptions (England)
- Ringwood (England)
- Sadler’s, with few exceptions (England)
- Salcombe (England)
- Salopian (England)
- Societe, with few exceptions (USA)
- Staropramen (Czech Republic)
- Stonehenge (England)
- Three Blind Mice (England)
- Three Notch’d (USA)
- Titanic (England)
- U4IC (USA)
- Vale Hadda’s. However, they also offer vegan options (England)
- Wanderlust, with exceptions (USA)
- Wantsum, with exceptions (England)
- White House (USA)
Please note that the brands above are just examples. If you are not sure about a brand and can’t find it in this post, check on their website or contact the brewery and ask about their vegan beer.
The vast majority of non-vegan examples are British beers. So even though there are countless vegan options available in England, this fact makes it even more important to check the ingredients if you live in the UK or enjoy British beer. German and Belgian beers on the other hand are almost always vegan-friendly.
So, is your Favorite Beer Vegan-Friendly?
To make sure that your beer is vegan, visit Barnivore.com. It offers information about countless beer, wine and liquor brands and is a great resource to answer the question if you can trust your favorite beer brand.