Friday, May 05, 2017

Guinness is now good for you AND vegan-friendly

Most people aren't aware of it, but Guinness has been using fish swim bladders as part of its manufacturing process for most of the last 256 years it has been in business. The company has been looking for a more palatable (and vegan) alternative for some years now, and has just announced that keg Guinness will no longer use fish bladders in its manufacturing process, with canned and bottled Guinness to follow by the end of the year.
Guinness, as well as many other British real ale cask beers and even some wines, uses a collagen product called isinglass, which is produced from the dried swim bladders of fish, as part of its filtration and fining (clarification) system. There is no requirement to state the use of isinglass on the bottle. As of a couple of days ago, draught Guinness in keg form - brewed at their huge St. James Gate Brewery and exported around the world for use in pubs, bars and restaurants - will be swim bladder free, and therefore totally vegan. All bottled and canned Guinness will also be vegan by the end of the year, as the new process is extended.
Now, I'm not vegan, but I am vegetarian, and when I found out that Guinness probably has traces of fishy bits floating around in it (courtesy of my daughter's Fermentation Biology course in university, as it happens), it was one of those small disappointments, like finding out that most Caesar salad dressing, Branston Pickles and Worcestershire Sauce have small amounts of anchovy paste in their ingredients (why would they DO that? - for the record, British Branston Pickles, available in Canada at British import stores, does not have anchovy paste in it, and neither does Kraft Caesar Salad Dressing, and Wizard's Sauces even make a vegan Worcestershire Sauce, although good luck finding that).
Guinness's change of heart comes after many vegan organizations lobbied and petitioned the company to change its manufacturing process (here is just one example of such a petition), so chalk on up for consumer activism. If you are interested, Barnivore has an exhaustive list of vegan beers and wines.

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