Guinness STILL isn’t vegan

Posted on the 15th March 2017

Back in November 2015, Guinness made a huge announcement. After more than 250 years of brewing, the makers of the world-famous Irish stout were making a big change to their beer – they were finally going to make it vegan.

You see, many breweries – including the St James’s Gate site in Dublin where Guinness is made – use a product called isinglass in the production of their beer. This substance is made from the swim bladders of certain fish and is used to make the beer clear, rather than cloudy. Given that Guinness is almost pitch black, it’s rather a mystery as to why this is necessary, but it remains a common practice throughout the industry making many beers unsuitable for both vegans and vegetarians. Some beers can also have other animal ingredients added to them, such as milk stouts, which contain lactose, and oyster stouts, which really do contain shellfish.

But despite the big media announcement that Guinness was switching to a filter-based system for clearing its beer, more than a year later this still hasn’t happened. So with St Patrick’s Day coming up this week, we thought we’d look at some of the animal-free alternatives available from British breweries for vegans to drink instead.

Cask Stouts

Isinglass is most commonly used in cask beers – i.e. those dispensed from hand pumps in pubs and bars – making them far less likely to be suitable for vegans. However, a number of mostly small-scale breweries across the UK produce cask stouts that are free from animal products. Here’s a selection to look out for:

Bottle and Can Only

Some breweries use isinglass in their cask stout, but not in the version available in bottles or cans. So here are some vegan-friendly alternatives to Guinness that you can buy off the shelf, just not at the bar:

Please note that whilst all the beers listed above are suitable for vegans, other beers sold by these breweries may not be. Please check Barnivore or with the breweries themselves for the most up-to-date information.

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