Let’s see what we really know about the making of beer. We know for sure that it is generally made from malt, barley, water, hops and yeast; and going by these ingredients, it does seem like beer is a vegan drink. However, that may not always be true.
Apart from the regular ingredients some breweries use animal products in the brewing process. These additives are used for head retention, flavor, and coloring. As these products are used in small proportions they usually don’t show up on labels and there are no laws in the US that stress on the disclosure of such ingredients either.
Here are some of these components that make beers non-vegan.
- Honey: It is added to some beers as an adjunct to flavor and sweeten the drink. However, honey is obtained from honeybees and is clearly a non-vegan product.
- Finings: To filter the beer of excessive yeast, breweries use finings to do so. There are many varieties of these finings including isinglass (produced from the swim bladders of fish) and gelatin (obtained from the connective tissues and bones of animals) too.
- Lactose: Few beers, especially milk stouts contain lactose which is a type of sugar obtained from milk and therefore is not vegan.
- Apart from these, there are other ingredients too like insect-based dyes (used for coloring), glyceryl monostearate, white sugar, pepsin or even charcoal that are all non-vegan in some way and are used while brewing beer.
If you’re a beer-loving vegan, then find out more about the drink you like before guzzling down a ton. Many British beers are non-vegan, but usually German or Belgium ones use traditional methods of brewing and are thus more likely to be vegan.
Pick: There are many other vegan brews out there too but be rest assured that Flying Dog Brewery, New Belgium, Magic Hat will suit your needs.
Pass: Guinness Stout is not vegan as it uses isinglass in its production.