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5 Vegan Beers For A Truly Green St. Patrick’s Day

5 Vegan Beers For A Truly Green St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and leprechauns of all nationalities will be looking for ways to douse the world in green. Shamrock-colored beer is a favorite treat for St. Patty’s parties, but there’s nothing green about adding toxic food coloring to some cheap domestic lager.

At its simplest, beer is made from four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. On first glance, it would seem that this short ingredient list means there’s nothing to keep vegans and vegetarians from enjoying a frosty brew with the rest of us. The reality is slightly more complicated.

Many breweries (including Guiness!) use animal products in the brewing process, reports the No Meat Athlete. Like wine makers, breweries typically use animal by-products clarifying agents, but animal parts are also used for head retention, flavor and coloring. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Isinglass – Comes from the dried swim bladders of fish. Almost all cask conditioned ale uses isinglass as a clarifier, although it is more common in England than the U.S.
  • Gelatin – A clarifier obtained from the skin, connective tissue and bones of animals. Typically taken from cattle and frozen pigskin.
  • Casein/Potassium Caseinate – Protein found in cow milk used as a clarifier.
  • InsectsMade into dyes and used for coloring.
  • Albium – Refers to any protein that is water soluble. Most common type in brewing is serum albumin, which is taken from animal blood.

Because no law requires brewers to disclose these ingredients on the label, most vegans are hesitant to belly up to the same key as most meat eaters. But being vegan is no reason to avoid beer altogether. Simply look for one of these flavorful varieties instead–perfect for a vegan-friendly St. Patrick’s Day!

Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout by Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Delivers a deep ebony color, voluptuous mahogany head and bold, roasty flavors for those who aren’t afraid of a real stout. Aromas of freshly baked bread, espresso and dried cherries meld seamlessly with rich toffee flavors and a creamy mouth.

Ranger IPA by New Belgium - This clear amber beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus) and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. And it’s label is green, so it’s perfect to prevent pinches.

Irish Red by O’Hara’s - Formerly known as Moling’s Red Ale and now carrying the family name of the brewery founders, this full-bodied Irish red, ruby in colour, is fruity and aromatic with a distinctive hop character balanced with a generous blend of sweet malts and has a distinctive roast finish. (Note: Carlow Brewing’s entire suite is vegan-friendly. That means any of the O’hara’s brews, or Curim, their Celtic wheat beer.)

Hard Cider by Bulmer’s – Not a beer drinker? No worries. You can still unleash your inner leprechaun with a glass of Bulmer’s cider, which is made in Ireland. HOWEVER, only the pear and berry ciders are free of animal products–the original and light are not.

Irish Lager by Rogue Brewery - An Irish style lager with a smooth mellow flavor and an apple crisp finish, made right here in the USA! Silver medalist in the 2010 World Beer Championships.

For more vegan-friendly beer suggestions, check out this PETA list or

Got a vegan beer that we should try this St. Patrick’s Day? Tell us about it in the comments!

Related Reading:

5 Scrumptious Vegan Wines

2,000 Year-Old Beer Was Used As Medicine

More Americans Drinking BPA In Canned Beer


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11:35AM PST on Feb 22, 2015

Thanks Matt for the Barnivore link to check on vegan beers. I think I once looked up something like this and I believe that I found that Budweiser beers are vegan. Maybe to make sure I should just try asking on the internet if Budweiser is vegan. I did this with a brand of Doritos I thought were vegan. I found that they were but was saddened to learn that all Doritos are made with palm oil which is fast destroying our rain forests. Sadly, I believe that all too many of our processed foods are made with palm oil. Wish these corporations would develop a conscience and find other sources for their products. .

7:18AM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

For a great site for info on vegan beers, wines etc. check this out:

9:22AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

I'm not a vegan, but I actually had no idea that any animal products were in beer or wine before reading this article, and I'm unpleasantly surprised.

8:01AM PDT on Mar 19, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:17AM PDT on Mar 19, 2013

Ah ha! Didn't know about those clarifiers, interesting. That explains some of the local brews I used to find in Africa that were usually cloudy.

6:28AM PDT on Mar 18, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

5:45AM PDT on Mar 18, 2013

Vicki M - I guess I must be a ghost spirit floating around on this earth, because I have been a vegetarian for 10 years and a vegan for 4 years and I am healthier than any of my meat eating friends!!

3:00AM PDT on Mar 18, 2013

there are lots of micro and craft brewers that no longer use finings. The excellent Moor Beer i nSomerset is one of the leading promoters of Natural beers - theres a whole section explaining it on their site along with a list of other producers making them.

6:07PM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Vicki M. In response to your comment "no way,i don't believe in a being a vegetarian or vegan,u need meat so not convinced."

I have been a vegetarian for over 25 years. Humans don't NEED meat. They just like the taste. I haven't had so much as a cold in 10 years. I seem to be a lot healthier than the meat eaters I know.

5:25PM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Green beer its fun for the day....

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