Vegan Alcohol: How to Avoid Animal Products in Beer, Wine, and Liquor | A Case For Plant Based

A Case For Plant Based
4 min readDec 11, 2020

That’s right: not all beer, wine, and liquor is vegan-friendly. 😱 Find out the reasons why below. And, for a list of vegan-friendly beer, wine, and alcohol brands. After that, you’ll also enjoy these delicious vegan cocktails for your holiday season and year round!

The following are not comprehensive lists, but provide a few examples to get you started.

Fining (and vegan alcohol)

Why are animal products in some alcohol?

Beer and wine naturally have particles floating in the liquid. A process called fining is used to clarify it. These clarifying agents bind to the molecules and form larger particles that make it easier to filter out and remove those impurities. This process improves the clarity, flavor, and aroma of alcoholic beverages.

Non-vegan fining agents include:

  • isinglass (fish bladders)
  • egg whites (or albumin)
  • casein (milk protein)
  • gelatin (extracted by boiling animal skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments)
  • chitin (fiber from exoskeletons of lobsters, crab, and shrimp)
  • dried ox blood and blood albumin (a protein found in blood plasma)

However, some companies use animal-free fining agents to clarify. Others use tools or equipment in fining. And, some companies skip the fining process altogether and sell unrefined and unfiltered alcohol.

Other animal-based ingredients that may be added to alcohol include:

  • milk
  • cream
  • honey
  • whey (a by-product of cheese production)
  • lactose (sugar from milk)
  • carmine and cochineal (red coloring from insects)

Ambiguity of Vegan Alcohol

Manufacturers of alcohol are not required to list ingredients on labels. So, knowing which companies and products are vegan-friendly is not always clear.

Additionally, a producer’s process for fining is not always consistent. For example, a winery’s merlot may be vegan but their riesling is not. Or, manufacturers may change the fining process or ingredients with each batch.

Always check the label for a vegan symbol or statement from the company. Also, look to see if there is allergy information on the label or company’s website.

The best way to determine if a product is vegan is to contact the manufacturer directly. I have personally done this several times. In my experience, the company representatives are extremely helpful and informative.

My favorite resource is Tens of thousands of beer, wine, and liquor brands are documented here. It’s a great tool to ensure your favorite adult beverage is animal-free.

Vegan Beer 🍻

Common commercial beers that are vegan include:

Other vegan beers:

  • Anchor Brewing Company
  • Goose Island
  • Lagunitas
  • Modelo Especial
  • Sam Adams (all varieties except cherry wheat, latitude 48 IPA, and honey porter)
  • Sierra Nevada

And, there are also plenty of other craft beers that are vegan-friendly. Again, use to check if your favorite beer is vegan.

Vegan Wine 🍷

Fining agents used in vegan wine production include proteins derived from wheat, corn, legumes, and potatoes.

While there are some fully vegan wineries, most others only offer a few vegan options. For example, the Charles Shaw red wine at Trader Joe’s is vegan, but the white wine is not.

The following companies are fully vegan:

Vegan Hard Cider

Unfortunately, many hard ciders are not vegan. But, some ciders that are vegan include:

  • Bulmers (except: original and light Irish cider; spiced apple and honey; and spiced apple and rhubarb)
  • Ciderboys
  • Strongbow

Vegan Alcohol 🥃

Whether or not liquor is vegan ultimately depends on the manufacturer. However, in most cases, these unflavored spirits are vegan:

  • brandy
  • gin
  • rum
  • tequila
  • vodka
  • whiskey
  • Jack Daniel’s (but, not Tennessee Honey)
  • Jameson

Vegan Cocktails 🍹

Try some of these deliciously refreshing vegan-friendly cocktails!

Vegan Holiday Cocktails 🍸

Enjoy these festive vegan-friendly cocktails for the holidays!

As always, please drink responsibly.

Happy holidays!

Cheers! 🍾

Originally published at on December 11, 2020.