Utah Brewery Map

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vegan Beer?

Until a few days ago if you asked me if beer was Vegan friendly I'd have said, "well-duh"? I mean most people know that beer is four things. Malted barley, hops, water and yeast. What vegan could have a problem with that? Well there are some technicalities that come into play.

Generally most beers made in the U.S. are Vegan friendly. Some beers like Milk Stouts and Oyster Stouts are obvious exceptions, but for the most part craft beers have no animal materials in them.

Some breweries clarify their unfiltered beers using a fining agent known as Isinglass, which are made from the swim bladders of fish. It's a clarifier that only filters out unwanted particles from the brewing process and is not present in the final beverage. These types of organic agents tend to make beers a "no-no" for people who want to stay away from from animal parts for dietary or religious reasons.

I can say confidently that most of Utah's brewers use mineral based clarifiers like Biofine Clear which is basically colloidal silicon dioxide.

Squatters just recently debuted O'Caden's Irish Red, their first "vegan friendly" beer using these new clarifiers. Pretty much all the beer they make - that is not filtered - is clarified with this process. Emigration Amber, Chasing Tail (pub only), Oatmeal Stout, Full Suspension, ESB etc.

Some of the other breweries using non organic clarifiers are the Utah Brewers Co-op and the soon to be brewing Epic Brewing. Just to mention a few. If your interested in knowing who's using what, the individual breweries will be happy to let you know.

These Clarifying processes may also apply to people who desire Kosher beers as well.

The funny thing is, there is not a vegan brewer among us. I guess they just like to please. Are we Clear?



Anonymous said...

great post. I think most places use non-animal clarifying agents today because of cost and so it opens up the vegan, jewish, and a few other "niche" markets to their beers. I didn't see you mention Honey which as a vegan is my main concern with beer here in the US.
Is it true Utah's beer is weak like 3.0 like in SLC Punk?

Carlos said...

Last time I was at the 300 East wine store they had a list on the wall in the beer section that listed vegan beers. At least, I think that is what it listed. It was either vegan or "green", not sure which.

Killer said...

So is there a tasty celiac friendly beer?

(no wheat, barley, rye etc. Rice is OK but doesn't tend to make tasty beer)

Carlos said...

Bard's Tale is celiac friendly. I know there are others. I'm sure you can find a list of others if you google it.

Anonymous said...

My Celiac friend says that Redbridge is pretty good and Bards is nasty. I've never been able to force myself to try either one.

Mark said...


We have been special ordering Greens Beers from Belgium for The Bayou. They are all gluten-free aka celiac-friendly, and I think they are quite tasty.

Unfortunately, they are not available in the general state liquor stores. You might be able to special order them through your liquor store though.

Killer said...

Thanks everybody for the responses, I did a search and was pleasantly surprised at how much was available. I will check out The Bayou next time I'm through SLC. Luckily cider is gluten free and seems to be becoming more popular.

colbylee said...

Hey there..news from the warehouse... Bayou and Beerhive got some new Pikes Brewery in this week. Pikes I.P.A and Pikes Extra Stout, there was one more but I can't remember...it might be the Naughty Nellie.

Tilley's Mum said...

@skepticalvegan - That's a question that requires a lot of if, ands, and buts. In short, the beer sold on tap in UT is 3.2 ABW which is 4.0 ABV. Bottled beer can be higher, but not sold in grocery stores. Anyway... it's complicated :D

Douglas said...

We got us regular beer in these here parts. To test this theory anyone who doubts should bong three straight Uinta Barley Wines- see if you get buzzed.

Jon Lee said...

To further the education on this topic:
Clarifiers and finings like isinglass are typically only used by smaller brewers and pub brewers that have not the capital or space for filtration equipment.
They are added post fermentation generally on a transfer day to a serving tank. They bind to remaining proteins and yeast still in suspension. The weight of the now larger particles settle into the tank bottom leaving clear bright beer to go to the taps.

Brewers with filtration equipment don't usually use these finings as we filter our beers with DE filters, canisters containing multiple filter cartridges, Centrifuges and a few other technologies. What a brewery uses depends on the budget of the brewery because filtration equipment is expensive, sometimes difficult to operate and time consuming.

However out of both of these technologies finings are the least expensive to produce bright beer but filtration delivers more consistent tasty, bright beer to the bottle or tap. (And is vegan friendly)

To Skepticavegan: Honey is only used by a small number of brewers and it is always listed as a part of the brands identity. i.e. Honey Porter or as a part of the advertising.
We here at UBC use no Honey in any brands we make.

Anonymous said...

sorry to break it to all the vegans but how far do you want to take it. To make all types alcohol you need yeast which is a living organism.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that not all milk stouts have milk or dairy in them. I could be wrong. Beer Advocate has Sam Adams Cream Stout categorized as a cream stout, but as far as I know it's as vegan as any beer.

Mikey said...

As I understand it. They can't technically be called a "milk stout" unless they've been made with some lactic sugars.

Dono said...

I would personally ask the brewer if you really want to know how their different brands are processed, and what they use for clarification.
As a pub brewer I filter some with DE (lagers mostly), others I leave unfiltered without finings. Some unfiltered beers can be very bright naturally, some are intentionally yeasty, while others might have intentional (or accidental) permanent colloidal haze from protein tannin complexes. Finings are being used less often as improved clarifying methods/technologies are developed. I personally prefer that ales are not fined, unfiltered, not striped clean, and left naturally bright.

Regardless of method, most brewers today deliver great consistent beers that meet or exceed consumers expectations.