Is beer vegan?
This is the ultimate question of vegans who love drinking beer.
The good news is that most beers are vegan!
Typically, beer is made of water, barley malt, yeast, and hops, so beers are usually vegan.
But here comes the bad news.
Not all beers are vegan.
As a result, vegan beers must disclose in the packaging that their products are vegan-friendly.
While animal-based beer is rare, vegans must be aware of whether they are consuming vegan or non-vegan beer.
To help you, we will tackle when beer is vegan, what makes them not vegan, and other relevant information about vegan beers.
“Most beers are vegan by default,” as per Jason Behenna, brewer and owner of Escape Velocity Brewing.
By definition, vegans don’t drink, eat, or use animal-derived products or anything that harms animals.
As such, vegans do drink beer.
For the most part, beer is vegan.
This beverage is the opposite of the wine industry.
Majority of beers in liquor stores are vegan, while most wines are not.
So as long as the beer is made from plant-based products, vegans can drink such an alcoholic beverage.
A beer is vegan when produced through plant-based ingredients and does not use animal or insect products in brewing.
As mentioned, the main components of vegan beers are water, barley malt, yeast, and hops.
However, even when a beer is produced mainly with vegan ingredients, some beer manufacturers add animal-based ingredients to make a flavor for the beer or during the brewing process.
For instance, most beers use honey as sweeteners and dairy products (i.e., lactose in milk stouts) for flavoring.
Unfortunately, no law in the US requires brewers to disclose ingredient lists on the packaging or label.
Hence, it is tricky to choose a vegan-friendly beer or to determine whether a beverage does not contain animal products.
Typically, the non-vegan beer uses isinglass and gelatin as fining agents.
But vegan beer uses seaweed (Irish moss), Bentonite Clay, Diatomaceous earth, centrifuges, and other non-animal derived brewing procedure or plant-based ingredients to clarify beer.
Meanwhile, most brands use Irish Moss, a type of seaweed, to prevent chill haze during the boiling process.
It helps the haze-causing proteins to precipitate from the malt.
In addition, beers are clarified through a quick sin in the centrifuge or contact with the adsorbent polymer.
Some brewers also prefer the traditional way of the brewing process.
For instance, they store beer for an extended period of time before they are sold in the market.
In this way, yeast and other particulates settle naturally.
This process is known as “long langeering,” from the German term “lagern,” which means to store.
It is difficult for a vegan to find the information they need regarding beers.
This information is part of the brewing process, which is not made readily available by companies.
Companies consider these fine details of the processing of their products, so they want to keep them secret.
As such, strict vegans must do detective work to ensure that a beverage is vegan.
Here are ways to help you determine whether the beer is vegan.
Some brewers may not label their beers vegan even if they are.
This is part of a marketing strategy because most companies don’t consider the demand for vegan beers.
After all, there are a lot more non-vegan beer drinkers than vegan consumers.
However, some brewers label their products as vegan-friendly.
It’s good if this happens, so you won’t need to do a lot of hard work to identify whether the beer you like is vegan or not.
You’re good to go by just checking the label or vegan symbol.
Search the Beer Product at Barnivore
It helps consumers evaluate the vegan-friendliness of a beverage.
Go to their website and find the information you need by typing in the beer’s name on the search bar.
Like Barnivore, you can also use BevVeg to know if the beer product is vegan.
BevVeg is a mobile app owned by an International Law Firm that certifies that the liquor is vegan.
Around 1 million vegan booze is recorded on their database.
Fish, shellfish, meat, and eggs are not only the main ingredients in some alcoholic beverages but are also used as allergens.
Companies may indicate the list of allergens used in their products, though it is not required in the United States.
In the US, manufacturers are strictly required to put “carmine” in the ingredient list.
Check out for “contains carmine” phrases in the bottle or label.
The best option is to contact the brewer.
Ask them whether there is a hint of animal ingredients in their beers.
They can provide you with the most up-to-date answer.
If you are vegan and like beer, don’t fret.
The majority of brewers in the market are vegan-friendly.
However, it’s also important to note that most companies offer vegan and non-vegan beers.
Hence, you must know which specific product is vegan.
Here is a non-exclusive list of popular vegan beers you can avail yourself in the market:
1. Abita (Except Honey Rye Ale)
2. Big Sky Brewing (Except Summer Honey)
3. Budweiser and Bud Light
4. Coors and Coors Light
6. Goose Island
7. Great Divide
8. Guinness (Original and Blonde American Lager Only)
9. Heineken (Beer Only, Not Cider)
10. Odell IPA and 90 Shilling Ale
12. Miller Lite and Miller High Life
13. New Belgium
14. Pabst Blue Ribbon
15. Rogue Chocolate Stout & Hazelnut Brown Nectar
17. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
18. Stella Artois (Beer Only, Not Cider)
Any beer that is made with animal or insect ingredients is not vegan.
These ingredients are usually used to add finings to their beer products.
For instance, ingredients like Gelatin and Isinglass are well-known fining agents, while honey, lactose, and whey, are added ingredients.
Any beer that contains these ingredients are not vegan.
Thus, anyone who is living a vegan lifestyle should avoid it.
Brewers use these ingredients because they want their beer to have a clear or pure appearance.
The animal ingredients in vegan are used to produce a smooth and clear beverage.
Anything from eggshells to the fish bladder is helpful to give beer clarity and remove impurities.
Here are common ingredients used in the brewing process which make beer not classified as vegan:
- Isinglass. This is the most common ingredient used as a fining agent. It is collagen derived from fish bladders.
- Gelatin. Gelatin is not only used to produce puddings, gravies, and jello but also serves as a fining agent. It comes from decaying animal skins, cartilage, boiled bones, and connective tissues of pigs and cows.
- Whey, Lactose, Casein. These ingredients sweeten, clarify, or add flavor to beer. They are one of the most popular ingredients present in most beers.
- Milk and Cream. These dairy products make beer creamy, smooth, and more flavorful.
- Chitin. This popular beer ingredient is a good fiber source and is used as a fining agent. However, it is not vegan because it isderived from crabs, shrimp, and lobster.
- Honey: There are a lot of beers that contain honey. This ingredient is used to flavor beer or raises its alcohol level.
- Carmine. Carmine is a red dye made out of scaly insects known as cochineal. This ingredient adds color to beer.
- Bone char. Most brewers will not tell you that they use bone char to produce beer. However, this animal product is a standard product used in the filtration process.
- Pepsin. The use of Pepsin in beer is to control foam. This ingredient is derived from pork.
- Glycerin. Glycerin is a hidden non-vegan ingredient. Most people think they are vegan ingredients, but Glycerin can be animal- and plant-based. Avoid this ingredient if you’re not sure about this product.
Certain types of beers are not vegan.
If you’re following a strict vegan lifestyle, watch out for the following list to ensure you’re not consuming a non-vegan beverage.
In some countries, beers are regulated heavily.
For example, in Germany and Belgium, strict purity regulations exist, and those beers must derive from certain ingredients.
In Germany, beers can only be made from water, hops, malts, and yeast.
Fining agents are prohibited in the brewing process.
As a result, most German and Belgium beers are vegan.
However, these rules do not apply in the United States, especially England.
Most England beers are non-vegan because they don’t have any purity rules when it comes to beer.
Unless the brewer states that the beverage is vegan, don’t patronize it.
Cask Ales, otherwise known as real ales, are traditional British brews that usually contain isinglass as a fining agent.
They are often served in pubs, so you better watch your beer consumption should you visit this kind of place.
As its name implies, the honey beer uses honey to add flavor or sweeteners.
Once you see the word “honey” in any beer product, beware because it is not vegan.
Most beers in the market today are “bitter” beers.
But back in the day, sour beers used to dominate the market.
Sour beers are also known as “fruit beers.”
But while they can be considered vegan, they mostly contain lactose, lactic acid, yogurt, and other dairy-based products to achieve the sour taste.
The word “sour” is usually present in the label or packaging, so it’s easy to spot whether the beer is vegan or not.
Yes, bacon beer exists, but it can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on how the bacon flavor is added to the beverage.
It is vegan if it uses a plant-based product to create a bacon flavor.
For instance, most brewers come up with the bacon flavor by drying barley through an open flame.
However, if the beer uses “bacon” to produce such flavor, it’s not vegan.
If you’re in doubt, check the label or ask the brewer for further information.
Dairy products are often present in flavored beers.
The beer is likely not vegan if you see the word “cream” on the label.
Here are other flavored beers that are not vegan-friendly.
- Coffee-flavored Beer. Some coffee stouts and porters contain lactose.
- Mocha. Like coffee-flavored beer, mocha beers contain lactose. Hence, you must watch out for the word “mocha” on the label.
- Pumpkin. Some pumpkin-flavored beer may or may not contain lactose.
- Ice cream Beer. Ice cream beers tend to contain lactose. Unless the label states that it is lactose-free, don’t consume it.
- Chocolate-flavored beer. This type of beer often uses lactose or dairy products and is not vegan.
Is beer vegan, you ask? The answer to such a question is not always a satisfying one.
Yes, most of the time, beer is vegan.
After all, the main ingredients to make beer are plant-based products.
However, the filtration method and additional ingredients to flavor beer are mostly animal-based.
Hence, strict vegans must be careful with every beer they drink.
Some non-vegan ingredients are apparent such as honey, lactose, and other dairy products.
But many other products don’t reveal, or their components are difficult to detect.
Check the ingredients or vegan icon, utilize online databases, or contact the manufacturer to be sure.
Vegan beer is everywhere.
Finding one is not daunting, especially if you know what you’re looking for.
Every liquor store or bar sells Guinness, Heineken, or Corona – these beers are all vegan.
Increasingly, most brewers often ditch animal-based ingredients to create beer; so non-vegan beers will be rarer in the future.