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Vegetarianism and beer

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Title: Vegetarianism and beer  
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Subject: International Vegetarian Union, Gary Yourofsky, Toronto Vegetarian Association, Will Tuttle, Jewish Vegetarians of North America
Collection: Vegetarianism and Drinks
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Vegetarianism and beer

Samuel Smith Brewery's Imperial Stout - a vegetarian beer

Beer is typically made from barley malt, water, hops and yeast and so is often suitable for vegans and vegetarians.[1][2] However, some breweries such as British cask ale producers may use animal products in the filtering process.[3] Most breweries do not reveal if they do or do not use animal products in the processing of their beers; exceptions are Samuel Smith, Anheuser-Busch, the Marble Brewery in Manchester, the Black Isle Brewery, and Black Sheep Brewery, all of whom have declared they make vegetarian beer.


  • Non-vegetarian additives 1
    • Finings 1.1
    • Glycerol monostearate 1.2
    • Honey 1.3
    • Lactose 1.4
  • Packaged beers 2
  • Vegetarian breweries 3
  • References 4
  • See also 5
  • External links 6

Non-vegetarian additives


Most beer is filtered without the need for animal products, and so remains vegetarian; however British cask ale producers don't filter the beer at the end of the production process.[4] When beer is left unfiltered, the yeast that fermented the wort, and turned the sugar in the barley into alcohol, remains in suspension in the liquid. The yeast that remains suspended in the beer creates a cloudy appearance, and can have a yeasty flavour.[5] Finings are used to clear the beer of yeast – there are a variety of agents used as finings, including silicon dioxide, gelatin, polyclar, and isinglass.[6]

Isinglass is the most common fining used to clear cask ale. Isinglass is produced from the swim bladders of fish, usually sturgeon, though also those in the polynemidae, sciaenidae and siluridae families;[7] as it is an animal product, cask ale cleared with isinglass is not considered vegetarian.

There are vegetarian alternatives to isinglass. Bentonite and Irish moss are the two most common.[8]

Glycerol monostearate

A brewer may also use some form of animal product in the later stages of beer processing, such as glycerol monostearate, which is used to create a foam or head on the finished beer.[9]


Honey is added to some beers as an adjunct, for flavouring and to sweeten the beer. Though generally considered suitable for vegetarians, honey is an animal product, so is not suitable for vegans.


Some beers, particularly milk stouts, contain lactose, a sugar derived from milk, and are thus not suitable for people who abstain from eating dairy products.

Packaged beers

Other than bottle conditioned, beers which are packaged in cans, bottles or kegs are filtered in some form, either pasteurised or cold-filtered. In general filtering doesn't require the use of finings,[10] though animal finings may be used on some batches that are too hazy to be cleared easily by the regular filtering methods.

Vegetarian breweries

Even though the many beers are vegetarian, most brewers do not reveal which beers do not contain animal products. Those brewers who have published this information include Samuel Smith, [11] Anheuser-Busch,[12] MillerCoors,[13] the Marble Brewery in Manchester, UK,[14] the Black Isle Brewery,[15] Little Valley Brewery,[16] the Pitfield Brewery,[17] and Black Sheep Brewery.[18]


  1. ^ Vegetarian Times, p 31, Mar 1993, Drew DeSilver, Active Interest Media, Inc., ISSN 0164-8497
  2. ^ The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Vegetarian, Frankie Avalon Wolfe, Alpha Books, 2000, ISBN 0028639502p 56
  3. ^ "Vegetarian Beer". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  4. ^ "The Vegetarian Society - Alcohol Information Sheet". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  5. ^ Animal Ingredients A to Z, p 73, E.G. Smith Collective, AK Press, 2004, ISBN 1-902593-81-2
  6. ^ "Wine and Beer Finings". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "BBC - Food - Vegetarian and vegan - Vegetarian and vegan wine and drinks". Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  9. ^ "Beer and the Vegan Diet - Beer and Brewing". Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  10. ^ Ethical Consumer
  11. ^ "ss_vegansoc_letter.gif (GIF Image, 826x1121 pixels) - Scaled (60%)". Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  12. ^ "Vegetarian beers". Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  13. ^ "FAQs". Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  14. ^ "The Vegetarian Society - Marble brewery nomination Press Release". Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^

See also

External links

  • Barnivore Your vegan wine and beer guide
  • Vegetarian food, beer, cider and wine
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