It’s the time for resolutions and for changes in lifestyle. You may be considering or have already embarked on a vegan lifestyle. There is a lot to take on board when making the switch, it may surprise you that beer is also one to consider.
Surely all beer is vegan friendly?
While one may not associate meat products with beer, not all beers are vegan friendly. Beer is brewed using water, malted barley, yeast* and hops. Now brewers are free to use many additional ingredients when brewing so keep an eye out for ‘pastry stouts’ or the on trend ‘milkshake IPAs’. These will contain lactose, a sugar derived from milk, to give a creamy, full bodied texture. Some beers, though not many, may contain honey or other animal products but these will usually be clearly labelled.
So, avoid these beers and you are ok? Again, unfortunately not. Introducing isinglass. While a beer may not use animal products as with the above beers, an animal product may have been used in the brewing process. Isinglass is the dried swim bladders of fish and is commonly used in the fining process. Fining is the process of clarifying beer by removing suspended yeast, malt proteins or other natural products in beer to produce a clear, bright beer.
Vegan Friendly Beer
However, there are alternatives to isinglass such as Irish Moss, a type of seaweed. More and more brewers are turning towards a vegan friendly approach to brewing including many Irish producers such as Wicklow Wolf, Kinnegar, O’Haras (with the exception of those beers that contain lactose). Barnivore is an online database which lists many Irish and international brands and is a reliable source for searching vegan beers.
Finally, yes that Irish staple, Guinness is officially vegan friendly as of 2018.
*Yeast is a single celled fungus. It eats sugars and produces by-products of alcohol and flavours/aromas, as such it is essential for the brewing process. They live a full live cycle in this process and do not suffer in the process.