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Is your beer as vegan as you?

With three other twenty-somethings in the house (one in his fifth year as a college freshman) and a fish that likes to occasionally hit the sauce, our fridge is usually well stocked with beer. In fact, besides leftover pizza, sometimes beer is the only thing in the fridge at all.

But as the only vegan in the house, I used to avoid it. You might wonder why. You might think “isn’t all beer vegan?” You would think so, but the answer might surprise you.

Most microbrews in their purest form are indeed plant-based, containing the basic ingredients of water, malt, hops and yeast. But with the current craft beer craze sweeping the country, there are a lot of other non-vegan ingredients that can find their way into a pint.

Is there an animal ion tap?

To be vegan can mean many things. Some non-strict vegans claim it only means not eating meat. If that’s the case than any beer should be fine. But for stricter vegans who don’t want any animal products used in the production of their food, then some beers fail the test. Many breweries indeed use animal products in their brewing process to enhance flavoring, coloring and to give a beer a better head. The most common and least offensive one is honey, which is used as flavoring. Beer labels usually don’t mention other animal products, however, so here’s what to look out for:

  • Gelatin –Typically taken from the skin or bones of cattle or pigs

  • Casein – A clarifier made from cow milk

  • Charcoal – Used for filtering. A portion is usually produced from animal bones

  • Pepsin – To control beer’s foam and sometimes derived from pork

  • Lactose – Some sweet or cream beers contain this

Cheers! You can still enjoy a beer

If you love beer, but have high vegan standards, you can simply call the brewery that makes your beer of choice and ask if they are vegan friendly. Most are honest about their practice, and some are very proud to be animal free. Cheers to that.

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