Vegan beers – there’s something fishy going on

Posted on 24/01/17

Next time your see someone swilling a pint of generic mainstream lager think of all the fish guts in that pint of “beer”. OK, I know what you’re thinking; “sounds a bit extreme Oli, I know you like banging on about proper beer but telling someone it’s full of disgusting stuff is a bit far”…or is it? Most people quaffing a pint in the pub or popping open a bottle at home wouldn’t think twice about if the beer was vegan, vegetarian or Venetian for that matter – beer is beer right, just water and stuff. Well yes and no, theres certainly water in there and certainly “stuff but what is that s stuff? A lot of beer is made with added chemicals, very similar to the ones that probably give you the hangovers only this one is more disgusting. The fish I mentioned has a stage name – Isinglass – and is a type of clarifying agent that’s used in beer production and is responsible for getting rid of all that gunk, you know, the real stuff. No one would want a beer with depth, colour and flavour now would they? If you search online for most big beer makers somewhere down the like you will find this little additive know by it’s street name as Isinglass but really when you break it down it’s a fish swim bladder. Told you it was disgusting didn’t I? Now for people that don’t mind an anchovy or a jelly baby with some gelatine in it that’s fine but when it comes to supplying people with vegan produce it’s essential to know what’s what. Beer is a prime example of where animal products are introduced into more things than we realise, mainly for the sake of few pennies here and there for the . So the chances are if you are quaffing a pint of mass-produced lager than it’s neither nice for you or the animals that went into making it.

Of course I’m not saying all craft beer is vegan, it’s not. Some do still use this technique to help take the murk from their beer. But more often than not when you select a craft beer you’re already upgrading your brew to something on a much better level. Everyone wins, not just the fish. Chances are the produce used is locally sourced and brought in using an agreement with a smaller distributor. Again it’s not always the case but the actual ingredients are many times over more likely to be organic, ethically sourced, sustainable and cared for. That’s exactly what micro-brewing is and has to remain – a skilled exacting process based on tradition and executed with modern innovation and care. And that’s why people love a craft beer. You start with the amazing flavour and work backwards. What else is going on here? So you have the beer types and flavours, the changing variations in seasonal brews, the incredible artwork, the organic produce and the skill and graft from someone down the line who cares. PLUS chances are no fish will have been injured, maimed or killed in the process. It seems like small insignificance to some people but it’s all part of what makes great beer great. As I said not everything we sell is vegan. For example Kew have a great beer made with milk but that’s out straight away. It’s delicious and boasts Milk Chocolate as an ingredient in their Chocolate Milk Stout which I’m partial to I cannot lie! However the point I’m trying to make is the craft beer world is a much more thoughtful one, certainly more than the big boys shovelling out they yellow fizz. That’s why as well as out new “in stock” product button and our new “new beer” button we will soon be labelling in all our notes if a beer is vegan or not. We’ll take this info straight from the breweries themselves so you don’t have to worry about crossed wires.

So the next time you see someone order a pint of “generic” remind yourself (and them if you dare) that all is not as clear as it first seems.


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