The sun is out over Tiger Hill and Dad has just emailed me from our favourite pub in the entire world, the Black Dog in Whistable (Kent). Yes, its named after the Led Zeppelin song and the owner Mike is a thoroughly great publican and keeps a spectacular array of local ales, not to mention vegan samosas on the menu. So my mind has drifted towards the finest of British beverages…..BEER! (aka Real Ale)
Jane and I are not drinkers a la Ollie Reed (a British actor who famously claimed to have drank 106 pints in two days) but the occasional, proper glass of bitter, stout or porter is right up our winding country track. Wishy washy lager is a no no in the B.H.K. We like beer with character and depth. Ale with substance and meaning. We don’t want to bloat up on ten pints of fizzy dish water, we are seeking that perfect, 1/2 pint of dark and potent nectar. There are a few breweries around us and a brilliant pub called the Snowdonia Park which brews all of its own beers in the cellar beneath the bar. You have to love that set-up! An institution built on beery foundations. It is also, sometimes conveniently, a campsite. Their best ale is ‘Karmen Sutra’, named after the landlady. A quirky name for a beer is much appreciated.
So the suns out and I’m wondering about beer……but wait, is it vegan? There seems to be a grey area around this and I’d like to attempt to clarify the question.
IS BEER SUITABLE FOR VEGAN?
Some, is the the best answer. The Camra website has some good info on this. Basically, the main ingredients of the vast majority of beers are very vegan; hops, barley, wheat, plants one and all. However, when it comes to clearing the beer of sediment, making it clear, many brewers use finings derived from the air bladders of the sturgeon fish (how random and disappointing is that!!!) These are called ‘isingas’ and draw the pesky yeast particles down through the beer. Although these are not consumed in the final product, most vegetarians and vegans will opt out of non-veggie beer.
Beers can be sold unrefined, but they take longer to settle and can be slightly cloudy. Some pubs in the UK are now serving only ‘unfined’ beers. Vegans also need to keep an eye on honey, it can crop up in the production of some ales. Some brewers may also use egg whites and gelatin in the brewing process. The good news is that beers can be fined vegan-stylee, using seaweed! How cool.
There is a directory of vegan UK beers below with some of my favourite names being Concrete Cow, Lizard, Fallen Angel, Wobble Gate and Why Not (?!) Which is a very good question, one I have posed myself many times before entering a pub. One I may pose myself this evening.
Here’s a comprehensive list (you could even call it a database) of vegan beers from the good folk at Barnivore. In fact, Barnivore is a one stop shop for checking all your vegan booze queries, including wines and liquor. I love the fact that their commitment to booze have led them to research the beers of Nicaragua, Philippines and even France!
SOME POPULAR BRANDS OF BEER (NOT NECESSARILY GOOD ONES) THAT ARE VEGAN
Black Sheep Ale (Wahee!)
Goose Island (Waheeeee!)
Affligen beers (Hoorahhhh!)
Alhambra and Mahou Spanish Beer (Yeeesssss! Fiesta!!)
Asahi (Hmmmm, refreshing and points for being exotically Japanese)
Budweiser (Hmmmmmm. Only in Wyoming.)
Aspall Ciders (Whoopp!)
Badger Ale (Double Whhooopeeee!)
Becks (Nostalgic nod of semi-approval.)
Black Isle, Isle of Skye (THANK YOU! Thank you!!)
In fact, I’m only on ‘B’, I’ll be here all day. There are more major brands listed below, but the good news is that most pubs will stock some vegan beers and you can always have a pint of Becks if you arm is being severely twisted. Being vegan does not mean that you cannot be boozy. Kale smoothies are wicked. As is a tankard of tepid local ale! We are British don’t you know!!!!!
Corona (plenty of lime please)
Pacifico (as above and very cold)
Peroni (if in Napoli, pleasant)
Fosters (Not if I was dying of thirst on a small antipodean island)
XXXX (See above but with much more conviction)
Bernard Beers (the absolute opposite of the past two comments. Heavenly Czech nectar.)
Budvar (Fizzy yumvar)
Staropramen (Fueled my early 20’s misadventures. Strong)
Stella Artois (no comment, except it can be decent if in Leeuwen.)
Conwy Ales (if you live in Wales, this is the finest of spring time news)
Birra Morretti (nice bottle and Italian, so brownie points)
Kronenberg (who drinks beer in France. Wine!)
Potentially, not everything these guys brew is vegan, but it seems like most. Best checking with uncle Barnivore to be sure.
I would say this, “vegans…..don’t be shy and ask at your local watering hole about vegan options. The more we ask, the more awareness spreads and the more pubs stock vegan tipples.” Many vegans I know provide their local pubs with excellent support and are a mainstay of their local public house.
VEGAN BEER! Why not!!
Enjoy in moderation (or otherwise.)
Rainbow…..Dad, this ones for you big man! Roberts still got it (never in doubt!)