Is Beer Vegan?

Is Beer Vegan

If you’re an ale-loving, beer-drinking vegan, then the ultimate question you may want to answer is: is beer vegan?

The good news is that yes, most beers are suitable for vegans – with a majority of brands offering vegan-friendly beers. 

However, the bad news is that some beers aren’t vegan. This gets even trickier when almost all vegan beer brands don’t disclose on their packaging whether or not the product is, in fact, vegan!

While there are likely no animal products in the beer, there are certain brewing techniques that strict vegans need to be aware of. 

To make this easier for you, we have created a detailed guide on everything you need to know about beer and its role in a vegan lifestyle. 

Let’s get started. 

How Is Beer Made?

Traditionally, there are only four ingredients found in beer, and, at the face value, these are all considered vegan-friendly. These include:

  • Water – Facilitates production and dilutes the product. 
  • Yeast – Required for fermentation. 
  • Hops – Acts as a preservative and adds aroma and flavor to the beer.
  • Grain – Provides flavor and color while adding the creamy and head mouthfeel. It is also vital for providing the necessary sugars for fermentation. 

As you can see, all these ingredients are 100% vegan, with no notable gray areas. 

Sometimes, people consider yeast non-vegan as it’s a living organism. Although, it is classified as a fungus, making it vegan-friendly. 

Looking at these ingredients, you could consider beer to be suitable for vegans. However, it isn’t until you take a look at the further steps of production that the problems arise. 

Why Are Some Beers Not Vegan?

From looking at the ingredients, beer is only composed of plants (and water). However, as mentioned, a vegan food, drink, or product’s credentials rely on the ingredients alone. 

For instance, if animal products are rendered during the manufacturing process, the product is non-vegan. This is where many beers, ciders, and even wines fall down. 

There are many different weird and not-so-wonderful ways animal products are used in our goods, and, whether you’re vegan or not, squeamish readers may find the animal contaminant slightly unpleasant. 

Below, you will find the different reasons why some beers aren’t considered vegan-friendly. 

Fining Agents 

During the last manufacturing stages, many beers will filter or refine their end products to achieve a more clear drink. 

This process is known as fining and is traditionally completed using isinglass, or even gelatine on occasion. 

Many vegans – as well as people! –  will know that gelatine is derived from animals.

This is generally composed using cow or pig offcuts, such as bones, cartilage, tendons, and even skin. 

Gelatine is the number one culprit for making otherwise vegan-friendly products, non-vegan. 

However, when making beer, isinglass is usually the fining agent, which is also not suitable for vegans. 

What Is Isinglass?

If you don’t know what isinglass is, it sounds like a mixture of glass and ice that could be used to create an extravagant sculpture, or perhaps an exotic European country you have never heard of before. 

However, in reality, it isn’t as cool as it sounds… at all. Essentially, it is a type of collagen that is derived from the swim bladder of a fish when dried. 

For those etymologists, the name doesn’t come from the clarity of ice or glass, but instead the Dutch word, huizenblass, which refers to the bladder or a specific sturgeon fish species. 

Putting words aside, your delicious beer is more likely than not composed with the assistance of fish guts, sounds delicious, right? 

It’s safe to say that these fish didn’t willingly provide their swim bladders for beer, as it is a helpful organ required for swimming and buoyancy. So vegan-friendly, they aren’t!

What Beers Are Vegan?

Is Beer Vegan

Luckily for vegan beer drinkers, the majority of beers available on the market are vegan-friendly.

However, unluckily for most beer drinkers, the production methods of creating beer aren’t easily disclosed. 

But don’t worry, below, you will find a list of beers that are 100% vegan-friendly. From the production process to the manufacturing process, these beers don’t rely on any animal products. 

Just remember that some beer companies produce both vegetarian and vegan beers, this is noted where applicable. 

  • Big Sky Brewing (Expect Summer Honey)
  • Abita (Except Honey Rye Ale)
  • Coors and Coors Light
  • Budweiser and Bud Light
  • Goose Island
  • Corona
  • Guinness (Original and Blonde American Lager only)
  • Great Divide
  • Labatt Odell IPA and 90 Shilling Ale
  • New Belgium
  • Miller Lite and Miller High Life
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon
  • Schiltz
  • Rogue Chocolate Stout and Hazelnut Brown Nectar
  • Stella Artois (Beer Only, Not Cider)
  • Yuengling
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Is Beer Vegan? Most Of The Time!

So, to answer the question “is beer vegan”, this answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think. 

Generally speaking, most of the time, yes, beer is vegan – with the majority of beers not containing any animal byproducts. 

Vegan beer is everywhere, and, as long as you know what you’re looking for, you’re able to enjoy a cold beer even as a vegan.

The majority of liquor stores and bars sell Guinness, Corona, and Budwiser – all vegan-friendly brands. 

Plus, brewers are increasingly avoiding using animal products during their brewing processes, too. So, before long, we might see vegan beer becoming more and more popular with non-vegan beer being the rarity!

Conclusion

There is nothing quite like relaxing on a hot summer’s day with a cold beer in hand, however, if you’re vegan, you might want to think twice before you do so. 

Inherently, beer is considered vegan. When looking at the ingredients, there are no animal products. However, it is in the production process where animal products are introduced. 

That being said, more and more brands are opting for a vegan approach to their beers, and before long; it should become the norm. Hopefully, this guide has informed you on whether or not beer is vegan. 

Brandon White
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