Some people like cocktails, some like wine, and some (like myself) love a nice, cold smooth beer every once in a while paired with a delightful meal. And some of course don’t drink at all, in which case this post is not for you.
After 20+ years of being vegetarian, I only recently learned what isinglass is. Apparently some manufacturers use animal products such as isinglass (fish bladder,) gelatin, or egg whites as part of their filtration. I had no idea that I’d been inadvertently consuming fish guts in my beer and gelatin in my cooking wine. Yuck.
Some vegetarians may not have issue with this, which is fine, but for those of us that go out of our way to avoid these products in other foods, it begs me to ask the question: Why isn’t this stuff clearly labelled? I always thought beer was simply fermented hops and wheat; I never before had a reason to question if alcohol was completely vegetarian. It’s the little things like this that can be frustrating when you’re trying to maintain a cruelty free lifestyle. Needless to say, I was not happy to learn that this was one more product that needs to be thoroughly scrutinized prior to consuming.
Luckily, I found the awesome folks at Barnivore; if you are not familiar, Barnivore is a web-based directory that through their community of users and researchers collects data on which companies provide Vegan/Vegetarian safe alcohol. They have a simple easy to use interface that allows you to perform searches and verify if your potable of choice is free from animal products. Thank you Barnivore for the good work that you do!
I’m an amber beer lover, and I was very pleased to find out that my favorite beers, Yuengling, New Belgium Fat Tire, and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA are in fact Vegan safe! Yay! Maybe I haven’t accidentally consumed fish guts after all. Thank goodness! Please use their site as a resource if ever in doubt. And always drink ethically and responsibly.
UPDATE: Wanted to add that I just learned that the delicious and masterfully crafted beers brewed at Tequesta Brewing Company and Twisted Trunk Brewery are also Vegetarian. They use seaweed to clarify their beers. I got this information on good authority, as a dear friend of mine is the mother of one of the owners. Please enjoy and indulge in their fine crafted creations.
P.S. If you’re passionate about craft beers or even just mildly interested in the history of beer in the U.S., you should really check out the documentary Beer Wars. It’s an eye opening piece about the struggles craft brewers face against the big 3 brewers (Bud, Miller, Coors) that try to dominate and monopolize the market.