Is Beer Vegan? Plus, How To Find Out If Your Favorite Beer Is Vegan

Beer is usually vegan, but it's not that simple.

The main ingredients of beer are simple: water, a grain, yeast and hops. All good, right? Well, not quite. It’s usually how the beer is processed that determines whether it’s vegan or not. 

At Vegan Focused, we’ve been navigating the vegan beer world for a good number of years now. And somehow, we still have our memories intact to know what’s vegan and what’s absolutely not. 

In this guide, we’ll show you why some beers aren’t vegan, how to tell if your favorite beer is vegan or not, and give you a list of some vegan-friendly beers to get you started. 

What makes some beers not vegan?

Some beers aren’t vegan because of the ingredients added at or near the end of the brewing process. These ingredients are called ‘finings’. They’re used to clarify the beer and keep it clear for aesthetic reasons. 

The finings found in beer can either be from animal products (non-vegan beers) or plant sources (vegan beers). It depends on the beer. 

Finings from animal products 


Isinglass is taken from the dried swim bladders of tropical and subtropical fish. It’s notably used in the production of cask-condition beers, though some breweries use it in non-cask brews as well. 


You’ve probably heard of this one. The gelatin found in sweets? Yup, same deal here. It’s made by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of animals – usually cows or pigs. 

Egg whites

Albumen (egg white) works similarly to gelatin when clarifying beer. 


Another one you’re probably familiar with. Casein comes from cow milk so uh, naturally it’s not vegan. 

Finings from vegan sources

Irish Moss

Irish Moss is derived from seaweed. Many brewers use it to help keep their beer clear without the need for a filter.


Bentonites are a type of absorbent swelling clay. Its ability to adsorb large amounts of protein molecules in liquid makes it particularly useful in the processing of alcohol. 


Pectin comes from the cell walls of plants. We’re pretty sure it’s vegan.

It’s not just finings that makes some beers not vegan, but sweeteners and preservatives too

Besides the finings listed above, sometimes other ingredients are added to sweeten the beer. These often include whey, lactose and honey. This generally happens with stout beers rather than your typical pilsner or lager. 

On top of this, preservatives like glycerin and glycerol are added to beer. These can come from either animal fat or a vegetable source. 

An important note about finings 

Unlike food labels, brewers in the US are not required by law to disclose finings used on the can or bottle. And the majority of them don’t. They often want to keep the finer (excuse the pun) details of their processes a secret! 

So what does this mean for you? Well, you can’t pick up a beer and know whether it’s vegan or not. So you need another way to find out. Thankfully, that’s very easy and we’re going to cover that in the next section. 

How can I tell if my favorite beer is vegan? 

Asking if the food is vegan in a restaurant might be easy (theoretically!), but asking about the beers in your typical dive bar? Good luck with that. Clearly, we need an answer before going out. 


Barnivore might just be your new best friend. At the time of writing, there are over 55,000 entries of beer, wine, and liquor. It is truly the godfather of vegan beer guides. 

If you’re out on the town, you can Google search “Is XYZ beer vegan”. Nine times out of ten, Barnivore will be in the top results and will take you directly to the page you want. 

Keep in mind that it’s common for breweries to have multiple vegan beers and a few sneaky non-vegan ones. Barnivore does a great job of highlighting this.

Barnivore also shows the region-specific differences between beers. For example, Coors Light is vegan in the US and Canada but not in the UK. Same deal with Foster’s. 

On the off chance that an alcoholic drink isn’t listed on Barnivore, your next best bet is to contact the brewery yourself. Most are happy to answer any questions you might have. 

What beers are vegan? 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather an idea to provide you with some safe go-to’s. 

  • Coors and Coors Light (Except UK) 
  • Guinness (Original) 
  • Anything by New Belgium
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon
  • Sierra Nevada 
  • Goose Island 
  • Corona 
  • Modelo 
  • Beck’s
  • Budweiser and Bud Light
  • Heineken 
  • Stella Artois 
  • Miller Lite and Miller High Life 
  • Samuel Adams (Most, but not all) 

PETA have a more comprehensive list you can view.

What about liquors and other alcohol?

Well, there’s a similar story to be told here. Perhaps except with wines, which are generally “less” vegan than beer or liquor. 

The majority of liquors and distilled spirits are vegan. Except, of course, for cream-based liqueurs and products that mention honey on the label. But you still need to be cautious here and double-check because manufacturers can change their processing method at any time. Jack Daniel’s is (currently!) no longer vegan as of 2022, even though it was for years before.

Wines are the most non-vegan category of alcohol by far. Simply put, they’re often processed a lot more with animal finings than most beers or spirits. 

Finding out whether wine or liquor is vegan is easy. Just use Barnivore as you would for a beer. Oh, and there are still plenty of vegan-friendly wines out there. So don’t fret if you occasionally buy it for your girlfriend or mother.  

The bottom line 

Most beer is vegan, and it’s easy to find out whether a beer is vegan or not within a matter of seconds using Barnivore. Provided you have access to the internet, of course. So you can still enjoy having a beer (or 1-too many!). You just have to be cautious before cracking open a cold one.

What’s next?

Have a quick search on Barnivore for the beers you typically drink. Next time you’re at the bar, you’ll already know what’s good to order. Cheers! 

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