When Guinness announced that, after 256 years, its stout is going vegan, a common reaction was: Wait, what? How can beer not be vegan?
But in fact, a number of alcohols use animal-derived products in their production (especially in the aging or filtration processes). There could be albumin from egg whites; casein (derived from milk); carmine, aka ground beetles; chitin from shellfish; gelatin from animal bones or tissue; or isinglass, a gelatin from fish (that’s what Guinness stout has had).
Other times, drinks are more obviously not vegan because they have cream (think Bailey's and Kahlua), honey, or processed sugars (which could have bone char).
With help from Barnivore (a database of vegan alcoholic beverages), The Tipsy Vegan author John Schlimm, and some knowledgable vegans in the office, we’ve compiled this list of vegan-friendly options for beer, wine, and spirits that we see around a lot. You can comfortably order these at a bar and know they haven't touched fish bladders or the like. (Not all the products from these brands are vegan, though, so you'll want to follow this list instead of just remembering brands.)
Pro tip: When in doubt, vodka or gin is your best bet.
An easy rule of thumb: Generally, British beers aren't vegan.
This is, of course, not a comprehensive list. John says the best thing to do if you're curious if your favorite drink is vegan—and why it is or isn't—is to download the Barnivore app or use their website. Alternatively, you can reach out to the producer directly to get an official answer. There are also vegan-friendly bars, like Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn, but they're few and far between.
So what's a safe order just about anywhere? John's pick: "A vodka martini."
Do you have a favorite vegan beer, wine, or spirit? Tell us in the comments below!
This article has been updated by Food52 editors in 2019.
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