Vegan beers: what they are and what they do NOT have

Birre vegane
Written by EFW Staff

Also the beers become vegan

In the United States there is a specific festival, the craft breweries are experimenting thousand of new types and wherever the demand is increasing, in Italy as well. We are talking about the vegan beers!

You will be wondering, why? Everyone knows that the beer is made with hop, barley and malt, nothing to do with animals! However, it is not only like this, sometimes animal derives can be used in the industrial production, above all in the phases of filtration, foam stabilization and coloring. If these ingredients are used below a given quantity, the law (at least the Italian and American ones) allows to remove them from the label, and consequently from the ingredients list.
Thus, even if you don’t see them on your can or on the packaging, not necessarily the animal derivatives are excluded.

Craft beers and vegan beers

You can choose a craft beer if you want to enjoy a cruelty-free beer, preferable unfiltered and unpasteurized, because the craft production foresees only basic and vegetal ingredients. The main phases are held without adding substances to enhance the taste, consistency or colour. Few ingredients for an extraordinary beer: water, malts, hop and yeasts adding vegetal aromas like spices, herbs or fruit (for example lemon or coriander).
In any case, to be 100% sure, it is sufficient to check if there is certification of vegan product on the packaging that always more breweries put on their cruelty free beers. In fact, even if on one side, the attention for the vegan friendly is growing, on the other side lots of small breweries use jellies or isinglass during the clarification phase.

birra vegana

The animal derivatives products in the beer

To satisfy your curiosity, we are going do to a brief list, we are sure that you will be astonished! These substances are used to enhance the appearance (colour, foam and transparency) or the consistency (density and creaminess) of the final product. Here you can find the most common substances used for the production.
For the clarification:

  • Jelly: obtaining by boiling the bones of bovine and pork; it is the classic jelly for the cakes, which the brewer uses it to clarify the beer.
  • Isinglass: it is used to clarify the beverage as well; it is obtained by the dried glands of the fishes. A curiosity? The Guinnes, the most famous Irish stout beer decided, after 156 years, to change the recipe, removing this ingredient used in the filters during the beer making. In 2016 it will be replaced by a vegetal alternative: agar-agar, carrageenan or pectin.
  • Casein: it is a protein extracted by the cow’s milk and used for the clarification.

For the colouring:

  • Cochineal: the carminic acid is extracted from this little insect; usually it is used to give the typical dark, reddish or amber color.

For the foam stabilization:

  •  Pepsin: it is used to check and stabilize the foam. This substance is extracted from the digestive system of the pork.

For the creaminess:

  • Lactose: it is a sugar contained in the animal milk that sometimes is used in the sweetest and thickest beers to reach creaminess and a velvety consistency.

Vegan beers

It is useless to do a list of the vegan beers for sales today. They are plenty, different and suitable for every taste. The production of the craft breweries is characterized by the simplicity of the ingredients and the production phases together with their passion, quality and taste. However, you can easily find vegan friendly beers produced by the famous beer brands in the shops’ stalls or surfing the web.


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EFW Staff