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Vegan Alcohol – Is It a Thing? Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?

Vegan Alcohol Guide - Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?

“There is no such thing as vegan alcohol” a friend said to me when I was first transitioning to veganism.

I had only been vegan for a few weeks at the time after being a vegetarian for about a year. Was this true? Could vegans not drink alcohol? Can you not buy vegan alcohol? Is beer vegan? Beer is made mainly of grains and wine from grapes – these are vegan products.

What makes alcohol not vegan?!

While it is false that there is no such thing as vegan alcohol, there are some things to look out for as a vegan when purchasing wine, beer or liquor. Yet do not worry as this handy guide to veganism and vegan alcohol will explain why some alcohol isn’t vegan, and show you how to find incredible vegan alcohol such as vegan beer, vegan cocktails, vegan wine and vegan liquor!

First, if you’re wondering what veganism is you can get the answer here.

Can Vegans Drink Alcohol? Is There Vegan Alcohol?

vegan alcohol

Vegans can still drink alcohol! Your ethics need not stop you from partying! There are many accidentally vegan alcoholic drinks, as well as a whole range of vegan beers, vegan wines and vegan liquors. There are, however, some alcoholic beverages that are not vegan.

Unsurprisingly, a few creamy liquors are not vegan but it may surprise you to learn that not all wine is vegan. The main ingredient of wine is grape, which is of course vegan, but the process of ‘fining’ can make wine not vegan-friendly. Similarly, beer, which is primarily made of grains may not be vegan due to the process of how it is made.

If you are thinking about transitioning to veganism but worried that you cannot drink your favorite drink, read on to see what vegans can drink.

Why is Some Alcohol Not Vegan?

Non-vegan Cocktail

Some alcohol is not vegan due to two reasons. One reason that alcohol may not be vegan is due to the alcohol containing an animal product such as cow’s milk in a White Russian cocktail or eggs in Advocaat or honey in mead. The second reason alcohol may not be vegan is due to the process of how the alcohol is made.

Is Wine Vegan?

Wine is not always vegan. The reason wine is not always vegan is due to a process called ‘fining’. Shortly after wine has been produced, it will not yet be entirely clear liquid. Instead, young wine can appear cloudy. Yet most consumers prefer their wine to be crystal clear.

While the cloudy wine is in no way harmful and the wine will eventually self-fine, manufacturers are keen to speed up the fining process. Wine manufacturers use fining agents to smooth out these hazy molecules in young wines. The agents are added to the liquid and the larger molecules are attracted to these agents. This makes it easier to remove the haziness. Unfortunately, many of these fining agents are not vegan.

Wine producers use non-vegan processing aids such as albumin (egg whites), gelatin, casein (milk protein) and isinglass (fish bladder). These are removed along with the hazy molecules however; the traces of the fining agent may be absorbed into the wine during the refining process.

Is Beer Vegan?

Most of the time beer is vegan.

Very few beers contain animal products as their official ingredients. Some beers will contain honey or very rarely milk products. However, sometimes beer manufacturers also use animal products as part of the filtering process. Similar to young wine, young beers can look cloudy. While the beer naturally becomes clearer over time, beer manufacturers add refining agents such as gelatin and isinglass (fish bladder) to aid the filtering.

While these refining agents are removed afterwards, small amounts of gelatin and isinglass may have been absorbed in the beer. This makes the beer not vegan. Also, frustratingly, beer manufacturers are not required by law to list which agents were used making it impossible to detect by simply looking at a beer can ingredient list.

Which Alcohol Can Vegans Drink?

Despite these pesky non-vegan filtering agents, there are still plenty of alcoholic drinks that vegans can enjoy!

Currently, there are positive trends brewing in the alcohol industry. There has been a shift in both the wine and beer industry to use more natural methods. A number of vineyards are allowing their wines to self-clarify which does take longer but means more vegan drinks!

Companies are waking up to the demand for vegan products and are now trying to cater for it. Even Guinness changed its refining process to make their famous dark stout vegan!

So, if Guinness is now vegan, which other beers are vegan? Which vegan wine can you take to your next dinner party? Here is a list of some delicious vegan beer, vegan wine and even vegan liquor. There is plenty of vegan alcohol for vegans! Just remember to drink responsibly!

Vegan Beer

flight of vegan beer

There are many famous beers that are vegan and plenty of new craft breweries who are creating vegan-friendly alcoholic beverages.

Many big and small breweries are using modern machinery to refine their products now. This means that they do not use animal products for refining. Also a few craft breweries are now leaving some of the unrefined particles believing that it actually adds flavor. Some consumers do not mind if their beer is not completely transparent. If a brewery is not using machinery, they may use vegan-friendly finings instead. Did you know that seaweed works as a beer fining?!

Thirsty for some vegan beer yet? Here are some delicious vegan pale ales, vegan lagers, vegan pilsners, vegan stouts and even vegan beer festivals for beer lovers!

Vegan Lagers

Lagers are the most popular beers in the world. Many of us enjoy the crisp and light taste of a lager. Here are some tasty vegan lagers for you to enjoy.

Japanese lagers vegans can drink include Sappora and Kirin as well as my favorite Japanese beer: Asahi. Grab yourself some vegan sushi and enjoy a taste of the Far East with one of these Japanese vegan lagers.

If you are looking for an American lager to take to your next party there are plenty to choose from. You can grab a vegan Sam Adams Boston lager or a City Steam Colt Lager. Pabst Blue Ribbon sadly no longer comes with a pretty blue ribbon but it is an American vegan beer!

For vegans visiting the Czech Republic, you cannot visit the region of Bohemia without drinking at least one local vegan beer. The Pilsner was invented in the town of Pilsen (Plzeň) and luckily Pilsner Urquell is vegan! You can also try a Bernard beer which is vegan. Similarly, the Budějovický Budvar better known as Bud or Budweiser, is also vegan!

Other great European beers include Heineken, Stella Artois and Kronenbourg.

There are plenty of incredible vegan beers for vegans to drink!

Vegan Pale Ales

Any pale ale lovers here? There are quite a few vegan pale ales to choose from. Pale ales differ to lager as they are brewed with top-fermenting yeast compared to a bottom-fermenting used to create lager. Top-fermenting yeast prefers mid-range room temperatures. These warmer temperatures tend to give ales more spicy and fruity flavors compared to lagers.

Popular American pale ales include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5, Torpedo IPA, Harpoon IPA and Lagunitas IPA. Be careful with the Torpedo as it is quite strong with 7.2% alcohol.

Vegan Stouts

Do you prefer something stronger? Here are some tasty vegan stouts!

  • Heavy Seas’ Peg Leg Imperial Stout
  • Anderson Valley Brewing Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
  • Sierra Nevada Stout
  • AleSmith Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout.
  • Goose Island

Vegan Beer Festivals?

Can’t decide which vegan beer to try first? Why not visit a vegan beer festival to sample a selection of vegan beers! Did you know that you can visit the annual Veg Out! Vegan Beer and Food Festival in Arizona?

Or you can visit what is known as the “vegan Coachella” at Eat Drink Vegan. Originally called the Vegan Beer and Food Festival, the #VeganBeerFest caught fire and the event quickly grew and expanded into Eat Drink Vegan in the Rose Bowl Stadium in LA.

You can enjoy plenty of vegan alcohol at either of these festivals!

Vegan Wine

women drinking vegan wine

Are you a wine lover? There has been a recent move to more natural winemaking methods across the globe. Instead of using animal products to aid the filtering of young wines – winemakers have been experimenting with fining agents such as bentonite (clay) and activated charcoal. These are both vegan-friendly methods! A number of winemakers are allowing nature to take its time and naturally refine which means more vegan alcohol and vegan wines for us!

Vegan Red Wine

Do you prefer a red wine? As a vegan you can enjoy a tasty full-bodied red from Frey Vineyard from California. They market themselves as America’s first organic and biodynamic vineyard. All their wines are vegan?

Canadian red wine from Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards is also vegan.

Vegan White Wine

Are you more of a white wine lover?

There are tasty white wines for vegans. Cycles Gladiator produces a few tasty vegan white wines. A spokesperson said “We don’t use the byproducts of any creatures in anything we produce, unless you count the millions of little yeasts we force into suicidal servitude. Oh, and grapes.”

Vegan Prosecco

For those extra special occasions, treat yourself to a vegan sparkling wine. You can enjoy a 100% organic and vegan Prosecco from Bellissima Prosecco. Christie Brinkley’s eco approach means that even the packaging uses organic ink and environmentally-friendly material.

Vegan Vineyards!

For an all immersive vegan wine experience why not visit a vegan vineyard!? There are plenty of vegan wineries in California such as Daou Vineyard. You can actually take a tour of a few vegan wineries in Napa and in Sonoma county. Enjoy trying vegan alcohol at the place where it was made!

Alternatively, treat yourself to a stay at a vegan hotel and vegan vineyard in Germany for a complete immersive vegan alcohol experience! You can enjoy the 100% plant-based cuisine during your stay at Trautwein das Winzerhotel am la Roche Rheinland Pfalz.

Vegan Liquors and Vegan Cocktails

Vegan Cocktail

Luckily finding out whether liquor is vegan or not is much more straightforward than with beer and wine. Most liquor is vegan, unless it explicitly states that it contains honey, eggs or milk.

For example, vegans can enjoy most bourbons, whiskeys, schnapps, rum, tequila and vodkas. Even some creamy liquors such as Tia Maria are accidentally vegan. Did you know you can also get a vegan version of Baileys?! This means you can still make many fantastic vegan cocktails!

You can make a vegan fruity mojito, which is a great way to get your vitamin C! In the colder months of the year, you may want to pretend you are at a German Christmas market by making a vegan mulled wine. For those of you who prefer creamy cocktails, keep it simple by treating yourself to a bottle of vegan Baileys and pour the liquid over some ice. Cheers!

When you are at a cocktail bar, make sure you always what is in a cocktail. Most cocktails at bars are made from scratch and can be adapted to your needs. For example, ask which milk is used in a bar’s piña colada. Traditional piña coladas are made with coconut milk but some bars use cow milk since it’s cheaper.

Additionally, many trendy cocktails contain egg whites, like a whiskey sour. You can simply ask them to omit the egg whites. If you’re really lucky you’ll visit a super clued in cocktail bar and they’ll have aquafaba as a substitute. Always ask to make sure your cocktail is vegan.

Useful Vegan Alcohol Resources

If you are not sure whether or not an alcoholic drink is vegan, check out this super useful website Barnivore. Barnivore describes themselves as “online directory of vegan and vegetarian beer, wine, and liquor.” They list over 47,000 different types of alcohol! You can see a huge amount of vegan drinks on Barnivore. Barnivore is a great resource for vegans. 

Vegans Can Drink Alcohol!

Vegans Drinking Alcohol

The answer to “can vegans drink alcohol” is yes! There is plenty of vegan alcohol. Vegans can still enjoy a refreshing beer or a delicious wine. Do your research to see how the alcohol is made beforehand and rejoice that more manufacturers are making their alcoholic beverages vegan-friendly! Ask at the bar to see what vegan cocktails they have on offer.

What is your favorite vegan wine, vegan cocktail or vegan beer? Let us know what your favorite vegan drink is in the comments below!

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Is alcohol vegan? Can vegans drink alcohol? Surprisingly the answer is not always yes. There are a lot of pretty weird things lurking in some of your drinks!

Jesse Ford

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

I like how you mentioned that a shift has been made in the wine and beer industry to ensure they use more natural methods when making alcoholic beverages. My wife and I are considering looking for a vegan spirit because we're thinking about inviting some of our friends over to our home who don't consume animal products. I think it's a good idea to shop from a reputable retailer that gets their spirits from a brewery that uses the most natural methods possible.