Being a better vegan: I’ll take the ale without the fish, please

I believe that being vegan, veggie, plant-based or environmentalist, we should all do the best we can, and not feel guilty when we’re not perfect. We all make occasional slip ups, forget to ask the question, or forget how certain products even have a chance of animal ingredients in them (pork in your mascara, anyone?)

Beer

Anyway, even when I was vegetarian, I often turned a blind eye to animal ingredients in my booze. I had my excuses: “I’m doing enough already/they’re only waste products/it’s not actually in the drink, just used in processing” etc, etc. The real reason was, that I couldn’t be arsed – I love a boozey Friday and I didn’t want anything getting in the way of that. Finally, I realised I was no different to the people who claimed it’s too hard/inconvenient/expensive to give up meat, and if I’m going to call myself a vegan it’s time to drink responsibly.

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Dizzy blonde

Putting theory into practise: time to drink some beer

To celebrate a new level of discipline I headed down to Runaway brewery‘s monthly Grub Fair. Runaway are pretty awesome, they set up in 2014 to brew great beer how they wanted it, and set up in the Green Quarter in Manchester. The third Saturday of every month in association with GRUB, they get local food traders in and set up gazebos and benches in their car park for the Grub Food Fair. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, where you can while away the afternoon in a beer and food coma. Which is how I spent my Saturday this week.

The event caters to all, and looks to make sure their mix of traders includes veggie, vegan and gluten free options, Yes there’s also a lot of meat, but at least you can bring the whole family without any complaints. This month I sampled the leek and aubergine stir fry stew from Maiden Taiwan, followed by some fresh mini vegan donut bites with cinnamon sugar from Fritto Italian Street Food.

Vegan beer at home

Unfortunately, we can’t spend all our weirdly warm but rainy days in Manchester beer gardens. So for the other days of the week, I found this excellent resource called Barnivore that collates information from most beer, wine and spirits brands on whether animal products are used. I’m a big ale lover: I love a strong German Weissbeer, a gentle session bitter, or a lovely blonde (LIKE ME!)  I’ve collated below a list some of my regular UK beers that turn out to be vegan (phew). These aren’t particularly the best (although many are delicious), they’re just easy to find, the sort you can stock up on in advance, grab from your local, or always have on hand:

Vegan lagers:

  • Corona
  • Sol
  • Stella Artois
  • Becks
  • Carlsberg Export
  • Grolsch
  • Brewdog This is Lager

Vegan ales:

  • Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde (my favourite and my namesake)
  • Brewdog Dead Pony (ironically)
  • Black Sheep Golden Sheep (BOTTLE is ok, cask is NOT OK)
  • Marble Beers (not the honey versions obv)
  • JW Lees: everything except the standard Cask Bitter
  • Obviously Runaway brewery

I have heard that as a rule of thumb, smaller microbreweries are less likely to feel the need to use random animal parts in brewing – this may or may not be true.

The above list has a strong Manchester skew as I love to support our local brewers, but the Barnivore search list is completely global.

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Runaway brewery

All this has made me thirsty now: long legs, green heart, full glass…

Do share your favourite vegan beer finds or non vegan warnings if you have any!

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