There’s nothing like a bottle of ice-cold beer after a hard day’s work, right? You kick back and relax, watch your favorite show, or maybe share peace and quiet with your special someone. But then you notice that the beer you’re drinking has a high-calorie count or is not the healthiest choice.
You ask yourself, is there a way to drink beer guilt-free? Is beer vegan? Are there beers that are considered vegan or there’s not a chance that beer will ever be vegan? Can you really not have the best of both worlds? These are the questions that we will try to answer in this article and more!
Is beer vegan?
People around the world have had varying opinions about beer. Well, one thing is for certain, that it’s the ultimate beverage used for enjoyment and relaxation. But, we can’t also deny the fact that beer drinking (too much of it) is sometimes frowned upon due to the risks that said drinker takes when they do so.
Where are we going with this? Well, we are just first trying to illustrate that it’s almost automatic for a lot of people due to the said negative connotations about beer to say that no, it’s not vegan and never will be. But, these opinions are not entirely right and biased. Beer makes you fat, beer is unhealthy and should be totally avoided, etc.
If we take a look at beer’s primary ingredients or at least most of the popular brews around the world, beer can be absolutely VEGAN! Say what? You read that right as beer is mostly made from hops, water, barley malt, and of course, yeast. And so yes, they are very much suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
It’s also noteworthy that a lot of people don’t know that they can be vegan is that beer breweries don’t necessarily declare all of their ingredients including the *finings that they use that may range from plant-derived products to animal-derived products. Well, except for some brand that does which we are going to enumerate shortly.
*What are finings? Finings are the usual substances that breweries add to beer (or maybe wine and non-alcoholic juices) to then remove organic compounds into the concoction. These are used to adjust the final flavor or even improve the clarity of the beverage.
What are the ingredients that prevent beer from being vegan?
Well, as mentioned, some beers utilize animal-derived finings and that’s exactly the reason why they are non-vegan. As a matter of fact, these are the beers that were or are still brewed in traditional breweries. If you should know there are about 7000+ breweries in the United States alone so you can be sure that there are a few small and large breweries that are still pretty much using animal-derived finings.
As far as ingredients are concerned, two of the most popular animal-derived finings used for beers are isinglass and gelatin. What is isinglass? Isinglass (fish bladder) is basically a type of gelatin that is acquired from fish mostly from sturgeon and is then utilized for a variety of purposes and in our case here, beer. Gelatin from bovine, piscine, and porcine are also widely utilized by a lot of companies. And for some reason, varying laws from varying countries all around the world don’t seem to require breweries to list these finings down as their ingredients in their labels.
It’s also important to take note that some beers contain milk products and honey so if any of that is against your vegan diet then stay away from said beers. Don’t worry, we will identify a lot of them shortly.
But, despair not vegans for as far as the trend goes nowadays for beer manufacturers, those who utilized animal-derived finings may not have much choice but to stop doing so. That’s simply due to the pressures of beer drinker’s demands nowadays.
So, what are the alternatives?
So, what’s this said “pressure” that forces breweries to do away with animal-derived finings and just brew vegan-friendly beers? Well, it’s not that farfetched to say that people (beer drinkers) nowadays are getting health conscious with their choices. Beers or liquors that have fewer calories or light on their labels are usually the first ones off the shelves. This is exactly why a lot of breweries are revising their processes to adapt. A lot of new breweries also just opt to go for vegan beers too. In short, it’s now bad for breweries’ business if consumers know that they still use animal-derived finings. So, problem solved for vegans!
Then, of course, there’s the whole maltreatment for animals angle here that also comes into play, and trust us when we say that that plays a huge part in consumer’s choices. The alternative then? Modern technology (filtering) and plant-derived ingredients for fining.
What makes a beer vegan?
Simply put, most beers nowadays are considered vegan for a lot of them use plant-derived finings. The usual suspects used by breweries to ensure that you drink a vegan-friendly beer are Irish moss, silica gel, seaweed, and Biofine which is a vegan-friendly compound utilized for filtering beer.
It’s also important to take note that this whole vegan-friendly beer is brought about by advancement in technology and eventually doing away with the traditional use of animal-derived finings. These modern filtering techniques have given way to clearing your favorite beer and getting it ready for consumption.
And so, this brings us to our list of the best vegan beers you may drink right now. And also, let’s list down a few non-vegan beers for you while we’re at it.
List of Vegan and Non-Vegan Beers
Here are the beers that are considered vegans.
- Big Sky Brewing
- Budweiser & Bud Light
- Coors & Coors Light
- Goose Island
- Great Divide
- Odell IPA & 90 Shilling Ale
- Miller Lite & Miller High Life
- New Belgium
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Rogue Chocolate Stout and Hazelnut Brown Nectar
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- Stella Artois
There are a few things that you need to take note of here. Each brand manufactures multiple types of alcoholic liquors and not all of them will be vegan. Take Heineken for example, it’s a known vegan beer but its cider is not. There are also a few other brands that go by this classification.
*Guinness, on the other hand, says that their beers are animal matter-free but admits that they use Isinglass, but says that it does not really carry over until the final product so they still count as vegan beer. But experts say, that nope, Isinglass may be carried over to their beers on the shelves so you can say that Guinness beers are borderline vegan if you ask us.
They also say that most British beers are not vegan so you should veer away from them and instead try Belgian or German beers.
There are other beers too that are considered mostly vegan like these:
- Brooklyn Brewery
- Dogfish Head Brewing
- Samuel Adams Brewing co.
- Thirsty Dog Beer
So, what about non-vegan beers?
- Guinness Stout
- Lighthouse Brewing Co. Inc
- Murphy’s Irish Stout
- Wooden Hand Brewery
Here’s your list of beers to watch out for.
Popular vegan beers
Here are some of the world’s most popular vegan beers.
Heineken is one of the world’s most recognizable beer brands and a great pale vegan beer. Its 5% alcohol is just right and it does taste good too. Some would say that it’s a lot bitter than most popular vegan beers though but you know, beer can be subjective.
It goes down smooth especially on ice and is also carbonated just perfectly. Heineken is a brand known to follow the trend and suit their avid drinkers’ taste buds. That’s exactly why a lot of people like this brew.
One of the most iconic beers in the industry, Budweiser is of course, vegan. Throw the Bud Light beer into the mix too while we’re at it. This is also as American as a pale beer can get.
It’s one of the best brews to have by your side when the weather is hot as it is crisp, clean, and medium-boiled. Both beers have 5% and 4% alcohol by volume respectively.
Budweiser has more to offer than just their memorable ads and has endeared to beer drinkers worldwide.
If you’re looking for a uniquely aromatic vegan beer then go for Coors Light beer. Coors uses distinct hops in their brewery processes that’s why the finished product tastes the way they do.
Coors beers always have a consistent taste and at the same time, have a distinct aroma. Their vegan variety has 4.2% ABV so vegan drinkers can definitely enjoy a few with that smooth corn taste.
Corona Extra is also very popular for vegan drinkers. It’s got a pale straw color and is also crystal clear with a medium white head. It’s got a great scent thanks to the hops utilized, it’s got a subtle flavor but if you savor it, you’ll notice some sweetness in it too.
Miller Light, as well as Miller High Life, are all recognized vegan beers. As a matter of fact, they are considered as the champagne of vegan beers and that’s not only due to their elegantly shaped bottles that look like champagne but also their luxurious taste.
There’s apple juice in its taste as well as corn nuts with a hint of toffee. Talk about class, huh? Miller Lite and Miller High Life are a top choice for vegans.
So, how does vegan beer taste like overall?
You probably know the answer to this already. Vegan beers do not really taste that different from non-vegan ones. So, switching from traditionally brewed flavors to vegan beers won’t be that hard (hurray!).
We’ve enumerated really popular beers so, guess what, you’ve been drinking them all this time! The only surprising thing here really is that you just didn’t know that mostly all beers today are vegan, that’s it!
The bottom line is that they are all made from barley, malt, hops, and water, the main ingredients of the beverage you enjoy the most. So, they won’t vary in terms of taste that much if you don’t think about it a lot. For beer aficionados, then maybe they’ll notice some subtle hints of differences.
Here’s a list of some famous lagers and pilsners that are absolutely vegan.
Yep, named after the largest city in the Hokkaido prefecture in Japan, Sapporo lagers are one of the best vegan beers in the world for it is guaranteed made from high-quality ingredients. That’s the same with Kirin and Asahi lagers.
These beers are best accompanied by Japanese food and yep, they are all sold outside of the land of the rising sun.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Not all good vegan lagers though are considered premium and come with an expensive price tag. Some like Pabst Blue Ribbon are a bestseller for it is affordable but at the same time, tastes really good.
If your town is named the town of Pilsen then it’s for sure that your brews are absolutely perfect. Pilsner Urquell hails from the Czech Republic and they don’t disappoint. Unfortunately, they are not really easy to find even just within Europe. But you know, if ever you get your hands on them the acquisition will be well worth it.
Some other top-quality vegan lagers and pilsners are Labatt Blue, Sam Adams Boston Lager, and Modelo Special which is a bit expensive when bought outside Mexico.
Whether beer is vegan or not, we must make sure to remember to drink responsibly. It’s not just about taking good care of our body but also making sure that we don’t lose constitution and that we may inflict harm to others and most especially, to ourselves.
So the next time you open a bottle of beer, make sure to drink for good clean fun and relaxation. CHEERS!