Vegan beer? When I first heard about it, I thought, “What are they taking out of my beer?” and then on second thought, “What could possibly be non-vegan about my beer?”
First things first: what exactly is beer made of? Barley, water, hops, and yeast, right? And sometimes wheat, rye, or another grain is used instead of barley.
The surprising fact is that many beers also use animal products, such as gelatin (which is made of animal bones, skins and cartilage), glycerin (which is made of animal fat, lactose), or casein, which comes from cow’s milk, and even isinglass (which is fish bladder), used during the beer filtering process.
Some sweet beers use honey, which also makes them non-vegan.
But rest assured, beers don’t need to use animal products and there are many that don’t!
Here’s a list of 10 vegan-friendly beers for you to try this summer:
1. New Belgium
You may have seen the ever-popular hoppy Fat Tire in your grocery stores, but New Belgium makes a variety of beers, all of which are vegan and some which are gluten-free. Dessert, anyone? Check out New Belgium + Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. It tastes like brownies, malted milk balls, vanilla and caramel with notes of dried cherries, raisins, and almonds. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth and cocktail hour, too.
2. Port Brewing Company
Wipeout IPA is bright and crisp with a dry finish, Wipeout IPA has notes of apricots and citrus rinds, is grassy and all about fruity hops, not about malt.
If you don’t like the bitterness of hops, this one’s for you. Boneyard created a non-hoppy imperial stout, Suge Knite, that’s still easy to drink with flavors of roasted oak, whiskey, molasses and dark fruits. Some even say they taste hints of chocolate, espresso, and caramel.
What else is new in the world of libations? Check out Blue Wine.
4.The Lost Abbey
Inferno Ale is a smooth, strong and yeasty with notes of pepper, apples, bananas, and cloves. Inferno will start sweet and malty and finish warm and dry. This one’s for those who love sugar and spice and high carbonation.
Centennial IPA uses dry hopping to bring out the orange and grapefruit citrus notes, mixed with aromas of pine and florals. Centennial‘s malt and hops are all well-balanced with a medium carbonation so you won’t be too full. This one’s a loud and proud classic American IPA.
Not every IPA needs to taste like straight citrus and pine; pour a pint of Mayberry for a tropical twist. Mayberry IPA is strong on tropical notes of citrus, guava, and mango peel, but stays juicy, sweet and and fragrant with grapefruit, pine, and florals. It is well-balanced and complex with the ever-loved mosaic hops, a medium body, and medium carbonation.
Want another juicy drink? Try this Refreshing Watermelon Smoothie Recipe.
Farmer’s Reserve Pluot combines a variety of ripe pluots with a sour blonde ale using Almanac’s signature house Dogpatch sour culture and San Francisco sourdough starter in an aged oak barrel, bringing out notes of vanilla, white wine, plums and apricots for a perfectly balanced sour fruit beer.
If you love cherries, try the beautifully deep red Devil’s Kriek or amber Tahoma Kriek. Devil’s Kriek, which is a strong sweet Belgian beer fermented with sour Morello Cherries, is tangy, sweet, and slightly reminiscent of red wine because the tannins contribute a sharp acidity. It has been compared to champagne because it’s crisp and bubbly. What a way to celebrate!
Tahoma Kriek ferments local Rainier Cherries with a strong Belgian Blonde, giving it a lighter, amber color and a crisper juiciness with vanilla and stone fruit aromas.
Old world-style beer aficionados will appreciate the hand crafted Oro de Calabaza. A golden ale aged in oak barrels, it carries the aroma of sour oak and wild yeast with notes of dry florals, bright citrus, green peppercorns, and spices. Oro de Calabaza starts off acidic and and finishes bright and fruity with a slight tartness. This is a classic Bière de Garde – one that’s great for storing or keeping in your fridge for any time.
IPAs are growing increasingly popular because many feel they’re tastier and can hold more and complex flavors, such as those of fruit and spices. However, that doesn’t mean you need to go to a craft or microbrewery to get a vegan beer. There are many beers you can find in your grocery store which are also vegan, such as Bud Light, Michelob, Ace Pear Cider, Goose Island, Lagunitas, Old Rasputin, and Sierra Nevada.
Cheers to your new summer beer!
Photo source: brewery’s websites, unless otherwise noted.