The vegan beer world is a small one, yet it can be an even bigger scene. Like many other foods in our society today, beer is not 100% animal-free; some beers use fining agents that aren’t plant-based either.
It may seem tricky when looking through menus or breweries websites to find what operates under these guidelines. But fear not because I’ve got you covered right here with my guide about which alcoholic beverages qualify as vegetarian/vegan friendly.
This article provides a complete guide to vegan alcohol by emphasizing non-vegan ingredients to look out for when you consume your favorite drink.
What Makes Beer Not Vegan?
Did you know that some beers use animal products to give their brews clarity and flavor? It’s not just vegetarian breweries, but sometimes even craft beer manufacturers add things like isinglass into the mix for color.
It’s essential to know the ingredients in your beer, so you can make sure they’re vegan.
Non-vegan beer ingredients include:
- Milk and cream – Largely, dairy products are only found in alcoholic drinks. They add a creamy and rich flavor to beer which can also be used as an ingredient in cocktails or blended drinks like the margarita.
- Whey, casein, and lactose – milk byproducts that you may have heard about. They’re occasionally used as ingredients or fining agents to create gluten-free products like cheeses!
- Honey – Honey has been used for centuries as a sweetener in alcoholic beverages. A fermented drink called mead is made from it, too!
- Eggs – Eggs are a popular addition to cocktails, as they add protein and improve clarity. They also work well when used in the clarification process for wines!
- Isinglass – Isinglass is a famous fining agent that’s derived from fish bladders. Described as “fish glue” due to its ability to bond with water molecules, this ingredient helps precipitate foreign particles. It allows them to settle on top while leaving yeast suspended below for their subsequent fermentation process!
- Gelatin – Gelatin is a protein derived from animal skin, bones, and cartilage. It’s common in recipes as the main ingredient (jello) or an enhancer of flavors such as puddings and gravies!
- Cochineal and carmine – One of the more exciting facts about cochineal is its natural ability to dye vibrant cloth red. It’s often used as an additive in alcoholic beverages because it can give them a striking and fun appearance.
- Chitin – Chitin is a fiber used in the brewing industry, often an agent to clarify beer. It’s also been found that vegan versions can be made from insects or shellfish.
Vegan Beer Guide
Beer is a delicious beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries. Beer is a smooth and refreshing beverage, but what makes it unique?
The four main ingredients in beer are water, a grain like barley or wheat, yeast, and hops.
All the ingredients in beer are vegan, but some breweries use non-vegan clarification or flavoring agents to make their products.
What is a Vegan Beer?
Vegan breweries don’t use any animal or insect products in their brewing process. Most commercial beers from established breweries are also vegetarian-friendly. They’re both cruelty-free and gluten-free for those who have dietary restrictions like myself. The following beers are –
- Budweiser and Bud Light
- Coors and Coors Light
- Corona Extra and Corona Light
- Michelob Ultra
- Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Guinness Draught and Guinness Original XX
While there are many vegan beers on the market, this is not an exhaustive list. Many breweries have taken up brewing with a plant-based diet in mind and offer us their delicious selections!
Best Vegan food To Pair With Beer
Beer might seem like an excellent match for fast food veggie burgers. Still, it can be hard to find a vegan-friendly beer that’s compatible with other vegan recipes. For the most part, any dark beer will likely pair well with seitan and other hearty vegetarian dishes because they share an earthy taste profile. Here’s a list that you can pair vegan food with your beer.
- Vegan Cheese
- Vegan burger
- Any vegan grilled skewers
- Vegan Pasta / Pizza
- Tomatoes and cucumbers
The other strong contender at your spring and summer barbecue is wheat beer or weissbier — either of which should work well with grilled tempeh, tofu skewers, or salad topped with grilled vegetables. But if you’re hosting a wine-loving vegetarian guest this weekend, don’t fret. There are plenty of light-bodied brews that will go best with dandelion greens and fruit salads this time of year as well.
Lighter beers like lambics are typically less heavy than stout beers, so they can pair well with lighter meals. Pairs well with lighter meals such as salads, fresh vegetables, vegan sandwiches, or even fruit-based dishes.
Light ales are generally very versatile and will match up to any dish with a light taste profile. India pale ales are higher in hops, so they will pair well with vegan spicy foods.
Alpine beer is akin to an IPA, without the heavy malt taste that drowns out other flavors. Pairs well with salads and sandwiches.
Belgian ale has a light fruity taste that works well with polenta and veggie burgers (though the latter might be a little heavy for this beer style).
Stouts and porters range from medium to full-bodied and work well with vegan chili, smoky seitan, and mushroom dishes. They also pair well with hearty bean-based dishes such as black beans or lentil burgers.
Porters are similar in taste to stouts but are slightly lighter in the body. They work well with vegan chili or pasta dishes.
Pilsners tend to be medium-bodied, which means they won’t drown out the taste of salad ingredients like tomatoes and cucumbers. They also pair very well with grapefruit (it’s an oft-overlooked pairing).
Are you still stumped on which beer to drink with vegan dishes and recipes? Try experimenting and see what you like best.