Many people, vegan or not, are surprised to discover that there is a plethora of animal-based products that can be found in alcoholic beverages.
Wondering what these unappetizing byproducts are doing in your drink? Most are used for “fining”* or coloring, although there are plenty of vegan options for filtering and coloring out there. The main culprits making it into our drinks today are: Isinglass, carmine, gelatin, egg whites, seashells, honey, milk, casein, and even blood.
Naturally, you already know what milk and honey are, but before I move on to how to find byproduct-free alcohol, let me clarify what a couple of these other fining agents are.
*Fining is the process by which alcohol is filtered or “refined” during brewing.
Glossary of animal-based fining agents:
Isinglass: Isinglass is the reason that your favorite bartender should be asking if you want a slice of orange or a bit of fish bladder in your Sangria. It is a form of collagen prepared from the swim bladders of fish.
Gelatin: We’re all familiar with this “harmless” sounding ingredient that’s used in candy, Jello and other such products. But did you know that gelatin is an animal protein derived from the skin and connective tissue of pigs and cows. Bleck!
Next: Carmine, Casein and ‘Which Alcohols Are Safe to Drink?’