For many, sipping a cold pint of beer is a cherished pastime. Whether it's a crisp lager, a hoppy IPA, or a smooth stout, beer is enjoyed by many people all over the world. However, what many beer drinkers may not realize is that not all beers are vegan friendly. In fact, some beers contain ingredients that come from animal sources. So why exactly is beer not vegan? Let's dive into the topic and explore the reasons behind it.
One of the main reasons beers may not be considered vegan-friendly is the use of animal-derived fining agents during the brewing process. Fining agents are substances added to beer to help clarify and stabilize it, improving its appearance and removing unwanted particles. Some commonly used fining agents include gelatin, isinglass (made from fish bladders), egg whites, and even milk protein.
Here at Everards, we use isinglass to clarify our cask beers in the brewing process as we believe that our cask drinkers want a crystal clear pint. This gives them confidence that not only has the beer been produced to a high standard, but also that the cask conditioning processes have been carried out properly in the pub. However, we don’t use isinglass in any of our keg beers, meaning that these are vegan friendly. The reason that keg beers don’t use isinglass is because either the beer is filtered as a mechanism to clarify it, or, in some cases, the serve is intended to be cloudy, so neither finings nor filtration are needed.
It's important to note that not all beers are fined with animal-derived agents. Many breweries have recognized the demand for vegan-friendly beer and have started using alternative fining agents.
Lastly, milk sugar, in the form of lactose, can be used to add body and sweetness to certain beers, such as a milk stout. Lactose can be used in cask, keg, cans, or bottles, so it’s important to check the labels for the ingredients.
So, whilst beer is typically made from plant-based ingredients such as malted barley, hops, and yeast, the use of animal-derived fining agents has made some beers unsuitable for vegans. If you're a vegan beer enthusiast, it's essential to do your research and look for breweries that specifically label their beers as vegan or use alternative fining agents enabling you to enjoy a pint while supporting breweries that align with your ethical choices. As the demand for vegan products continues to rise, more and more breweries are catering to this market and making vegan-friendly beer options available, so keep checking with your favourite breweries.