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Being vegan at the bar

alcohol vegan choices

When I went vegetarian back in 2011 I realised that - aside from meat - a few other foods would disappear from my diet. I was aware of by-products and realised that Haribo would have to be left out my diet and I also realised that Id' have to check cheese packets for rennet. However something I never imagined having to be careful with was my drinks order. 

I wouldn't say I'm a massive party animal, but I do like a drink and have a fully stocked wine rack in my kitchen. This wine rack is actually made up of spirits - mainly rum - as that is usually my poison of choice and spirits aren't the hardest drink to find vegan friendly. However some other types of alcohol such as wine (another favourite of mine, make mine a pinot grigio), cider (good for drinking with a meal) and beer are a little bit more tricky. 

In the most recent issue of VeganLife magazine* there is a two-page article from Oliver Conninham sharing his knowledge on the beer industry. Alcohol itself is usually vegan friendly (I mean vodka is made from potatoes, cider from apples etc) however it's the ingredients used to filter the drink that are usually not vegan friendly. In the case of beer this ingredient is isinglass, which comes from fish bladder. This is used to help give beer a clean, clear and crisp look. Or as Moor Beer, who were interviewed for the article, state it only as accelerates the process and they prefer to leave their beer to filter naturally. Mechanical filtration is also another option, one that is used by Camden Beers

However, vegan or not you've probably spotted the rise in the amount of cask beers on the market. These are run by smaller independent breweries who concentrate on peculiar flavours. As filtration can remove some of the flavour in preference for appearance they choose to leave beers with that musky colour. The Scottish BrewDog were mentioned in the article (are they available outside Scotland? They're doing really well here and brewed not far from where I grew up) and I've been aware for a while that their Dundee branch has a salad marked out as vegan (albeit it it is pretty much just leaves...) and that some of their beers are vegan. 

The only thing to be careful with cask beers is that some companies are a fan of creating creative flavours, which may use honey or something else derived from animals. But the base is free of filtration and is vegan suitable.

The article also mentioned the London Vegan Beer Festival as a starting point. And also mentioned are the various craft beer and ale festivals - such as the London Craft Beer Festival - which are more vegan friendly than your usual beer festival. 

As mentioned earlier I'm a bigger fan of spirits and only pick a beer on occasion. However it's good knowledge to have on stand by and I would encourage any vegan or vegetarian to double check their brands (as it's not always on the label, you usually need to contact companies directly). 

N.B. I get a subscription to VeganLife for free as part of their blogger outreach campaign. 
morag | mo adore
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  1. I've only recently learned of isinglas recently when my bloke was brewing his own beer figured out a better way to filter it than using fish parts as we are both veggie, so no Haribo either - although Holland and Barrett and Co-op do vegan Haribo. There is a giant Brewdog bar in Manchester. I'll pay them a visit now I know their ethics.

  2. * bad vodka is made from potato. Good vodka is made from grains :D


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