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Everyone knows that wine is made from grapes and beer is made from hops, yeast, and grain. Law?
Like most processed foods and beverages today, various other ingredients are added to wine and beer for flavoring, preservation, clarification, and other purposes. Since alcohol, unlike other foods and beverages, doesn't have to list all of the ingredients on the label, it's really easy just not to know what's in our beverages. Whether or not you are a vegetarian or vegan, you might be surprised to find out that some of these additives are not always plant-based.
With the holidays on our doorstep, many of us have celebrations on the horizon (even if they'll be over Zoom this year). In many cases, it means that wine, beer, and spirits will be the beverages of many people, and few would disagree that today's consumers want to know what's in their glass. Here's a rundown of what to look for (and avoid) in your beverages this season, as well as some brands you can trust for cruelty-free sips.
What is not vegan about alcohol?
Some types of beer contain lactose – this sugar that around 65% of the population cannot digest completely or at all – for taste. Milk stouts, as the name suggests, usually contain lactose to add a creamy sweetness and some other styles, such as pastry stouts or fruity sour sorts, also use it on occasion.
It's also worth noting that some beers use honey for flavor as well. If you're a honey-avoiding vegan or you're just trying to cut down on the sticky stuff, you should be careful as this sneaky ingredient doesn't always come out of a beer’s name or description.
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But it gets a little more gnarled. Beer and wine are sometimes clarified with gelatin, egg white, or isinglass – a derivative of fish bladder – (removing solids to make a clear liquid). Using isinglass or gelatin means beer and wine aren't even vegetarian. Not to mention … fish bladders? In wine? Doesn't sound appealing.
Most wines, beers, and spirits are good for vegans
The good news, however, is twofold: a lot of wine and beer are made without animal additives, and there is an important resource you can use to find out what is vegan-friendly. Seasoned vegans who probably already know something about Barnivore, an extensive database on the veg-friendly status of wine, beer and spirits. The information is obtained through direct consultation with the beverage manufacturers, often several times. This is a reliable resource. Over 50,000 different products are currently covered. Whether you're buying a $ 2 private label feed or a niche craft beer from a microbrewery, they likely have some information.
If you're a real wine person, you'll be happy to know that some wine producers are largely or entirely vegan. You may recognize the Layer Cake brand, perhaps best known for their red wines, but also for whites and rosé producers – their entire portfolio is vegan. This also applies to the popular wine brand Bread and Butter, a Californian maker that includes both red, white and rosé wines. And of course, small, independent producers are always a good choice. The Lumos wine in Oregon makes not only vegan, but also organic wines. Frey Vineyards in California is vegan friendly and organic as well as biodynamic and sulfite free.
Some breweries also completely do without animal additives. This of course includes the Sierra Nevada, which is generally considered to be the brewery that was originally better for the planet. Sixpoint, the trend-leading Brooklyn brewery where hipsters line up for special releases on a regular basis, has finally stopped using animal additives to keep their beers a safe bet. The inland New York brewery Ommegang, known for its Belgian farmer style, is also reliably vegan. The Southern California brewery Modern Times is also known to be completely vegan, as one of the owners is a longtime vegan. Their taproom locations in Los Angeles and San Diego offer killer menus of plant-based foods.
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If you're more of a liquor drinker, you'll be relieved to know that the vast majority of distilled drinks are vegan-friendly (but to be sure, Barnivore covers these, too). There are some exceptions, however, such as cream-based liquors like Bailey & # 39; s. However, the good news for Irish coffee aficionados is that Bailey & # 39; s also make an almond milk-based variety. Happy St. Patrick & # 39; s Day.
Beyond cruelty: organic and biodynamic drinks
Also noteworthy is the rise of organic beverages. If you are a person who thinks carefully about your food and drink choices, either for reasons of personal health, the environment, or animal welfare (or a combination of the three), you might be interested in knowing this amount of drinks made from organic ingredients. For example, an organic beer uses at least 95% organically grown ingredients, meaning no GMOs, synthetic fertilizers or pesticides according to Food Republic. While there aren't many organic breweries out there (though there are some like Peak Organics), many craft breweries are moving in that direction with organic options. Jai Ho & # 39; s Midnight IPA, Sierra Nevadas Estate Ale, Samuel Smiths Organic Cherry Ale, and even Michelob's Ultra Pure Gold Premium Light Lager are all organically grown.
Given that the world of craft beverages is becoming increasingly thoughtful and competitive, it's no great surprise that more organic and herbal options are becoming available. People care more and more about what they put in their bodies and manufacturers are more and more careful about what goes into their valuable products. Drink better for our bodies, other animals and the environment this holiday season? I'll raise a glass to it.
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