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Malt.Hops.Yeast.Water. — Why isn’t beer always vegan friendly?

If you’re reading this article you probably already know that beer is made up of four main ingredients; malt, hops, yeast and water. None of which are animal derived. So why isn’t all beer vegan? With Veganuary now in full swing, I thought it might be useful to highlight why some beer isn’t vegan and what to look out for when you’re picking up some beers this Veganuary.


Finings are a processing aid used to remove suspended yeast and protein from unfiltered beer, reducing the amount of haze you see in your glass. 

Isinglass is a type of finings highly praised for its ability to quickly and repeatedly settle out yeast and beer proteins. Isinglass is derived from the swim bladders of certain species of fish, a by-product of the fishing industry (fun fact — swim bladders are also used to make fish maw soup, a Chinese delicacy). Some breweries also use gelatin, another animal derived fining agent which helps to clarify unfiltered beer. These fining agents are rarely declared on the ingredients list, so it’s best to look for a vegan certification on the can or bottle, or to ask your beer server which beers on offer are vegan friendly. At Thirst Class Ale, we use non animal derived finings which means all of our beer is 100% vegan friendly.

Additional Ingredients

Namely lactose, an unfermentable sugar derived from milk. Lactose is used to add sweetness and body to beer. It has been used to brew milk stouts since the 1900’s, but has become more widely used in the craft beer market to brew big flavourful pastry stouts. It is also used in some low alcohol beers to add body, which can often be lacking in low alcohol beers. Honey is also sometimes used to add flavour and sweetness — so always check the ingredients label to be sure!

Did you know you can filter our webshop by your dietary requirements? You can check out all of the vegan beer on the webshop from breweries from all over the UK.

Veganuary has been growing in popularity year on year, going from 402,206* participants in 2020 to over 582,000** participants in 2021, and 2022 is set to be the biggest yet. So whether you’re doing Veganuary for animal welfare, environmental or health reasons this year, we’ve got you covered with our great selection of vegan beer, with no compromise on flavour!




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