Is Non-alcoholic Beer Vegan-Friendly? Everything You Need to Know

Written By Ian

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Let's look at how vegan beers are brewed & common ingredients in non-alcoholic beers to see if they're vegan-friendly.

Non-alcoholic beer is becoming incredibly popular nowadays, but what about its vegan status? Is non-alcoholic beer vegan friendly?

The good news is that most breweries offer vegan-friendly, non-alcoholic beer that doesn’t contain any animal products. The bad news is that filtering the beer can be tricky, which could mean that some non-alcoholic brews aren’t completely vegan-friendly.

In this article, we’re going to look at how vegan beers are brewed, and talk about common ingredients in non-alcoholic beers and see if they’re animal-derived or not.

Let’s get started!

Quick Answer

Generally, most non-alcoholic beers are vegan. The issue arises when some brewers use animal-derived ingredients in the brewing process and don’t include all their ingredients on labels due to proprietary reasons.

If you want to find out how to avoid these ingredients and find a vegan-friendly brewer read on.

A Little About Veganism?

Not to patronize any vegans here to find out more about vegan beers, but for those unsure (maybe you’re shopping for a friend), veganism is a lifestyle that seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.

A vegan diet doesn’t include any animal products or by-products. This means vegans don’t eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans also don’t consume any dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and prefer their non-alcoholic beer free from animal cruelty.

Why Some Non-alcoholic Beers Aren’t Vegan-Friendly

For vegan beer drinkers, it can be hard to determine which non-alcoholic beers are suitable for their lifestyle. While many of these drinks are marketed as being vegan-friendly, the reality is that there may still be animal products present. This can include milk proteins and other clarifying agents like gelatine or isinglass derived from fish bladders which we will talk more about later.

These ingredients may not seem obvious to the casual drinker, but they do play an important role in determining whether a certain beverage qualifies as “vegan friendly” or not.

Ingredients Used in Non-alcoholic Beer

Non-alcoholic beer is typically made in the same way as regular beer. It’s produced from water, yeast, barley, and hops.

The fermentation process is the same as for other types of beer—brewers add yeast to convert sugars found in grains into alcohol. The only difference is that they remove the alcohol during production.

You would think anything made of primarily these 4 ingredients would be vegan-friendly, some non-alcoholic beer brands add certain additives mentioned above to these ingredients to enhance the final product, or else they use animal-derived products in the filtration process.

How to Tell If Non-Alcoholic Beer Is Vegan-Friendly

The first thing you should do is check the label and packaging to see if there’s any information about whether the beer is suitable for vegans. Unfortunately, the majority of beer brands don’t list their product ingredients.

Label Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

The truth is, many brewers use animal-derived products in their production process and are not legally obligated to include this on their labels. Commonly used animal-based additives such as isinglass, gelatin, and chitin might not appear on the ingredient list but are still present in the final product.

It’s fair to say this is pretty frustrating trying to make an educated choice by actually checking the ingredients.

There are still a few ways to figure it out though!

So, what you should do instead is look for some specific markings or ingredients we’ll discuss next.

Uncovering the Truth: How actually to Tell If Non-Alcoholic Beer Is Vegan-Friendly

Because it can be tricky actually to know what goes into non-alcoholic beer, here are some tips for finding out if your favorite non-alcoholic brew is vegan friendly:

  1. Look for a Trademark.

If the container doesn’t include an ingredients list but does have a Vegan Society trademark or V sign, then congratulations! You’ve found yourself a vegan-friendly non-alcoholic beer!

  1. Look for ‘Vegan’ Labels.

Look for products labeled as vegan. While brewers don’t have to list their ingredients, they do have to be transparent to label their products as “vegan.” So, If you see that on the label, it means that the product is free of animal-based ingredients.

  1. Check It Online.

Check it on Barnivore. When you search for a specific non-alcoholic beer brand, it lists all of the variants and whether they’re vegan-friendly. It’s incredibly reliable and very in-depth!

Potential Animal Products Used in Non-alcoholic Beer

If you can’t find any labels and it’s not on Barnivore, you may have to quickly put your detective skills to work to find any potential animal-based ingredients.

Keep an eye out for:

  1. Lactose

 Lactose (milk sugar) might be used as an adjunct sweetener in certain non-alcoholic beers.

Brewers use lactose to sweeten and thicken beer, since yeast doesn’t consume these sugars during the fermentation process.

  1. Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener that’s used in many alcoholic beverages. It’s not vegan, since the honey-making process often involves using animal products, such as beeswax and pollen from plants.

  1. Glycerol Monostearate

Glycerol monostearate is often used in the final stages of beer processing to form a froth or head on the finished beer. For the most part, glycerol monostearate comes from animal sources so vegans should generally avoid it.

How Are Vegan Beers Filtered?

The process of filtration is one of the main factors in determining whether a non-alcoholic beer is vegan-friendly. Depending on the type of filter used, some beers may contain trace amounts of animal products mentioned above that could make them unsuitable for vegans.

Let’s take a look at the brewing process and see how and why this happens.

There are 2 key methods for producing non-alcoholic beer, which are:

1. Alcohol Reduction & Prevention.

2. Dealcoholization.

For the most part, the brewing process is a vegan-friendly process, but some brewers may use animal-based products.

Traditionally, many brewers used fining agents such as gelatin or isinglass to clarify their brews and remove particles suspended in liquid.

Thankfully, there have been advancements made in filtering techniques allowing craft brewers to produce high-quality beers without using any animal-derived materials during the production process – making it easier for vegans who enjoy indulging in a cold one now and then!

Examples include diatomaceous earth filters which trap solids within its porous structure via electrostatic attraction; as well as ultrafiltration systems that filter out anything larger than 0.2 microns with membranes containing tiny pores – both methods provide more efficient clarification compared to traditional finings while remaining 100% vegan-friendly!

Still however, it’s worth noting there might be potential animal-based products during the brewing process we can look at.

What Animal Products Might Be Used to Make Non-Alcoholic Beer?

These are some potential animal-based products that may be used during the brewing process.

  1. Isinglass

Isinglass is a protein derived from the swim bladders of fish. It’s used to filter beer to remove yeast, fining agents, and other impurities. So anything with Isinglass isn’t vegan-friendly.

  1. Gelatin

Gelatin is a protein that comes from boiling animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It’s used in beer to help clarify the drink, making your beer bubbly and clear. But unfortunately also makes your beer not safe for vegans.

  1. Glycerin

Glycerin is a sweet syrupy liquid sometimes used as a preservative in non-alcoholic beers. It’s made from animal fat and can be extracted from beef or pork.

  1. Casein

Casein is a protein found in milk. It is sometimes used during the fining process, or other times in stouts or dark beers to add thickness and richness to the body.

  1. Egg White

Egg white is added to enhance the foaming properties of beers. And, of course, since it’s a dairy product, it’s not vegan-friendly.

Wrapping Up

So what’s the answer? Is non-alcoholic beer vegan friendly? Yes and no.

Generally speaking, most non-alcoholic beers are vegan-friendly.

However, as with any product you consume it is best to double-check ingredients if you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies.

Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t include all their ingredients on labels due to proprietary reasons so it can be a challenge for vegans to tell whether certain brands of beer are appropriate for them or not without diving into further research.

Hopefully, by understanding how vegan beers are filtered and recognizing potential animal products used in non-alcoholic beer, vegans everywhere can enjoy drinking without worry.

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