How can you tell if the beer is vegan-friendly or not? The exact answer to this question can be challenging. However, I will share with you my take on this.
First, let’s see what the actual issue here is. All the ingredients in beer are vegan, yet some not-so-obvious beers are not vegan. For something to be vegan it shouldn’t contain animal products but also, it shouldn’t use animal products in the process of making.
When it comes to veganism people always talk about food and seem to forget about beer and wine. It seems so obvious when comes to drinks we naturally assume that drinks have nothing to do with animal products especially alcoholic ones however, this is not the case.
Is Beer Vegan or Not?
It all comes down on how it was made.
Beer is typically made from water, barley malt, hops and yeast. Innocent ingredients right? And suitable for vegans.
However, In the process filtering the beer prior to bottling, some brewers add finings which includes animal-derived products called Isinglass (a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish). It also could be Gelatin, Egg White or Sea Shells. This is to purify the beer to clear it of yeast and settle it more quickly rather than to improve flavour or texture. The purpose is to make it brighter and pure.
There are also Finings that can include plant-derived product such as Irish Moss (species of red algae) or Seaweed. It all depends on the brewer on what product they choose to include which will determine if the beer will be vegan-friendly or not.
The more traditional beer is the more likely it’s not suitable for vegans.
Some animal products also used for flavouring and beer for instance honey. It is easy to identify this by looking at the beer name such as ‘Hiver The Honey Beer’, ‘Fuller’s Honey Dew’.
Also, some brewers add lactose, a milk sugar, especially dark beers is brewed with lactose. By adding lactose it becomes unfermentable when exposed to most brewing yeasts and instead, it will release sweetness and emulate milk stouts. This can be easy to spot on beers name such as ‘Mikkeller Milk Stout’, ‘ ‘Lancaster Milk Stout’.
Sadly, not all brewers reveal the production process of their beer and not all products used in the processing shows up ingredients on the labels. This is because in many countries they are not required to do so. As a regulation concern, the isinglass and gelatin are not considered to be an allergen, therefore, it’s not a requirement to specify on labels. In some countries is a requirement to specify ingredients on nutritional labelling on alcoholic beverages in restaurants but most often is not.
So for vegans beer-lovers, the investigation could be challenging and daunting. How to overcome this? The easiest is to have a handy list of vegan-friendly beers popular in your region.
Here is a list of popular vegan beers from all around the world.
Our Favourite Belgian Vegan Beer
There are too many Belgian beers to go through, so this is our personal recommendations (from myself and my husband)
We don’t like this one all that much but Stella Artois is vegan too.
Vegan-Friendly Scottish Beer
The most well-known Scottish pint, Tennents, is in fact vegan
Vegan-Friendly Irish Beer
All Guinness except ‘Guinness The 1759’ appears to be vegan.
“Yes, 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 Original, Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout are now suitable for vegans thanks to our new filtration system.”
Top 5 Beers from Germany are Vegan-Friendly *
Erdinger Kristall* – All except their bottles where the label glue is not vegan!
Aecht Schlenkeria Rauchbier
Augustiner Lagerbier Hell
Remember to check out online search barnivore.com to find out the vegan status of virtually every beer.
What is your favourite vegan beer? Share with us.