Barack and Michelle Obama enjoy a pint during their 2011 visit+
Barack and Michelle Obama enjoy a pint during their 2011 visit
Published at 12:01AM, October 31 2015
It’s official — Guinness is now good for vegans.
The company is to stop using fish bladders in its filters, so for the first time in its 256-year history it will be offering a vegan friendly pint of stout.
Vegans and strict vegetarians have long petitioned the St James’s Gate Brewery to stop using isinglass, a fishing industry by-product, to remove extra yeast from the stout.
A spokesman for Guinness said yesterday that a new filtration plant, set to be built next year, will spell the end of the substance, obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, ending up in the black stuff.
“Whilst isinglass is a very effective means of clarification, and has been used for many years, we expect to stop using it as the new filtration asset is introduced,” the spokesman said.
The news will be a welcome surprise for vegans. In January the company wrote to Barnivore, an online guide to vegan beer and wine, and said that no alternative could be found to filter the famous stout. The company said it was reviewing its options, but that to date, we have not found any alternative that is as effective and as environmentally friendly as isinglass,”
The company is now understood to be looking at two filtration methods which would not require isinglass.
The agent has long been a source of frustration for beer-loving vegans as it does not need to be included on the label in most countries.
In 2003, the European Parliament ditched a plan to force beer makers to highlight the use of isinglass on bottles and cans after breweries lobbied for its exemption from labelling on the grounds that it had traditionally been used in the brewing process with no recorded side effects.
Isinglass is not used for flavour or texture but for helping the yeast sediment settle faster, and tiny particles of fish remain in the final drink. Its use dates to the 1700s when it was employed to refine cheaper beer by removing the sediment and particles left at the bottom of the barrel.
In St James’s Brewery it is believed to have been introduced to the product by Alexander Forbes-Watson in the 1800s, saving the company £6,000 a year by recovering beer at the bottom of their vats.
It is rarely used in modern brewing as synthetic gelatins do the same work, although many British “real-ale” cask beers use it to refine the final brew.