Why aren’t all beers vegan?

That’s our canned reply to anyone asking why our beers are vegan. Both are good questions, but one has a really quick answer, one is a little more nuanced…

We’ve covered this in a little more detail previously, but at its core beer is a simple product. Water, malted grains, hops and yeast. So where do animal or insect products come in? (yes, being vegan also means no insects)

Animal products may be used during processing or as ingredients in the beer itself. Here are some common non-vegan ingredients used in alcohol:

  • Milk and cream. These dairy products are sometimes added to beer and liqueurs to give a creamy, rich flavour. They’re also used in many cocktails and blended drinks.
  • Whey, casein, and lactose. These milk by-products are occasionally used as ingredients or fining agents.
  • Honey. Honey is fermented to make mead and used as a sweetener.
  • Eggs. Egg white protein, also known as albumin, is often used as a fining agent.
  • Isinglass. This popular fining agent is derived from fish bladders.
  • Gelatine.  Serves as a fining agent. Notably, it’s derived from animal skin, bones, and cartilage.
  • Cochineal and carmine. Carmine, a red dye made from scaly insects called cochineal, is added to some beers for colour.
  • Chitin. Chitin is a fibre used as a fining agent. Though vegan versions exist, it’s often a by-product of insects or shellfish.

Which all leaves us asking what’s a fining agent?

Finings are used for clarifying unfiltered beer during the brewing process and can significantly speed up the time it takes to clarify a beer. They are also used to improve the flavour, and aroma. Really thorough description from the Oxford Companion to Beer here!

So, why are our beers all vegan?

Put simply, we’ve never needed them to craft our beers. From our Dark and Rich Stout collecting newspaper shout outs, to our multi award winning Helles Lager, they’re all crafted by hand and contain no animal products whatsoever.


About Nirvana Brewery:

We are the UK’s only No/Low alcohol dedicated brewery, one of only 16 Soil Association certified Organic breweries and the only one in London.

We believe that outstanding beer doesn’t need alcohol, that award winning flavour is not tied to abv, and that drinking with friends doesn’t have to mean a slow start the next day. 

Brewing since 2016, our beers contain no animal products, less alcohol than orange juice and are between 33 and 66 calories per bottle.

Further Reading