What Alcoholic Drinks Are Not Vegan? The Complete Guide

What Alcohol is Not Vegan? In this post, I am going to share with you exactly what to look for in alcoholic drinks that can make them not vegan. In it, I will cover Beer, Ginger Beer, Cider, Wine, Champagne, Liquor, Cocktails, and Hard Seltzer. Think of this post as an easy go-to source of information where you can simply find out “how can I tell if this beer I am drinking is not vegan?”, “hold on, are any Hard Seltzers not vegan?”, “I love red wine, but is this wine vegan or not – how can I even tell?”. In this piece, I summarize all of my knowledge on vegan drinks letting you know: (i) why some drinks are not vegan; and (ii) then break down each category of drink to explain what makes certain alcoholic brands not vegan and what to look out for as a consumer. I have also done the same for non-alcoholic drinks which you can find and use here: What Drinks Are Not Vegan? Complete Guide of Drinks To Avoid.

To start, let’s find out why some alcoholic drinks are not vegan.

Vegan Alcoholic Drinks – The Basics

As a general rule, some wines, beers, liquors, cocktails, hard seltzers, ciders, and ginger beers are not vegan. The main causes are usually the following –

  • Non-vegan fining agents;
  • Honey added;
  • Dairy or lactose added; or
  • Cochineal (crushed bugs) added.

Disclaimer – Please note that this blog post is not a definitive list of non-vegan alcohol – it is simply a summary of the main non-vegan alcohol and ingredients to watch out for, along with some examples of non-vegan alcohols.

Types Of Alcoholic Included

Finally, I have divided up this post into the following sections. If you are looking for specific alcohol you can use the links below to skip to the relevant section.
















Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

Why Are Not All Beers Vegan?

As a general rule, most beers are actually vegan as most beers are not fined. However, some beers are not vegan. As with all alcoholic drinks, the culprits that can make a beer not vegan are the use of a non-vegan fining agent in the production process or the addition of a non-vegan ingredient. I wrote a whole post on it you can read here – What Beer is Not Vegan? Beers You Need to Avoid.

Non-Vegan Fining AgentsNon-Vegan Ingredients Added to Beer
Cask AlesContains Honey:
Honey Beers
English Breweries often use isinglassContains Lactose:
Milk Stouts

Contains Dairy:
Pumpkin Beer
Caramel Beer
Coffee Beer
Ice Cream Beer

Contains Shellfish:
Clamato Beers  

Contains Oysters:
Oyster Stouts  

Contains Bacon:
Bacon Beers* (there are some bacon beers that use smoke flavoring and not bacon)

Beer And Fining Agents

As explained above, most beers are not fined. However, there are some beers that are fined using non-vegan fining agents (commonly isinglass from fish bladders, but sometimes gelatin).

Two types of beers are often processed using fining agents – beers from English brewers and cask ales:

  • English breweries often use Isinglass – there are more relaxed laws in England surrounding beer production compared to other parts of the world such as Belgium and Germany where fining agents are not allowed due to purity rules. For example, Coors Light UK and Foster’s UK are not vegan as Isinglass is used. I wrote a whole post about it which includes a list of non-vegan UK beers you can find here: Vegan Beers UK – How To Pick Vegan Beer In The UK.
  • Cask ales often use Isinglass (e.g., Fuller’s casks use Isinglass). You will normally just find cask ales in English pubs – so just make sure not to order a cask ale when in an English pub – go for bottled, canned, or kegged instead.

Beer And Added Non-Vegan Ingredients

There are a few non-vegan ingredients that are sometimes added to beers making them not vegan. They are as follows:

  • Lactose (milk sugar) is often added to stouts and sour beers for sweetness. Sour beers usually contain lactose. Stouts are often but not always non-vegan (for example dry or Irish stouts can be vegan – such as Guinness). Chocolate Stouts can often contain lactose and Irish, Imperial, and Oatmeal Stouts can occasionally contain lactose.
  • Honey. Honey is sometimes added to beer so avoid any beers with the word “honey/hive/nectar” in the name. It does tend to be more artisan beers that contain honey – big beer brands rarely contain honey. Mead is always not vegan as Mead is essentially a honey beer. Braggot is also not vegan as braggot is a cross between mead and ale.
  • Lactose / dairy can sometimes be found in beers flavored with pumpkin, caramel, coffee, cream, or ice cream.
  • Shellfish – Clamato beers are not vegan.
  • Oysters – Oyster Stouts are not vegan.
  • Bacon – Bacon flavored beers are not always vegan.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

Is Ginger Beer Vegan?

The main two reasons why some ginger beers are not vegan are due to (1) the use of Isinglass (dried fish bladders) in production; and (2) the addition of honey. I have summarized the main brands for you to watch out for in the table below.

Ginger Beer with HoneyGinger Beer Processed With isinglass
Buckeye Honey Ginger BeerFrog Beer Ginger Twist
Sparkke Ginger BeerHadrian Border Ginger Beer
 Matso’s Ginger Beer
 Crabbie’s Ginger Beer


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Cider Is Not Vegan?

Non-Vegan Ciders
Koppaberg Organic Ciders With Alcohol (sold in Sweden and Finland) *All other Koppaberg ciders are vegan
Somersby Ciders Which Contain Cochineal – Blackberry Cider Red Rhubarb Cider Mango & Lime Cider Sparkling Rose CiderSparkling Spritz Cider *All other Somersby ciders are vegan
All Milton Ciders (apart from Milton’s Cidre de Feu ) – Gelatin  
Rhody Coyote Hard Cider – Gelatin
Mystique Ciders – Casein
Blackthorn Ciders – Isinglass
Growers Ciders – Isinglass, Gelatin, Casein, Egg Albumin

As a general rule of thumb, most ciders are vegan.  There are, however, some ciders that are not vegan due to the addition of honey, cochineal, or the use of a non-vegan fining agent.

As you can see from the above, sometimes ciders can be processed using non-vegan fining agents such as gelatin, egg albumin, casein, or isinglass. Another reason for a cider not being vegan is the addition of cochineal for color.

Cochineal is essentially crushed bugs – which is often used to give drinks a red hue. Cochineal can also be referred to as carmine, natural red 4, carminic acid, E120, crimson lake

As mentioned above, the main non-vegan ingredient that is often added to cider is honey. You can see a table of 45 ciders that contain honey that I put together in this post – Is Cider Vegan? How To Know The Pressing Truth.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Wines Are Not Vegan?

Sadly, when it comes to wine the question is not so much “what wines are not vegan?”, but “what wines are vegan”?

Most wines are not vegan (many aren’t even vegetarian). I have written a whole post on it – Why Is Wine Not Vegan – How To Know The Truth?

What Makes Wine Not Vegan?

Essentially it isn’t the ingredients that make most wines not vegan but the processing. More specifically the “fining” process is used in winemaking.

You see following the fermentation process wine is left cloudy and hazy. This is the result of molecules such as tannins, proteins, tartrates, and phenolics produced from the fermentation process. These molecules create a hazy and cloudy mixture that can affect flavor, color, and texture.

Fining agents are then used to clump these molecules together so they can then be removed from the wine, leaving a clear wine, and removing any unwanted flavor molecules.

Types of Non-Vegan Fining Agents

There are five main fining agents that are not vegan:

1. Gelatin – collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals;

2. Isinglass – from dried fish bladders. Typically used in white wines;

3. Egg whites – often used in red wines

4. Casein – protein found in milk.

5. Skimmed Milk

White Wine Vs Red Wine

Red wine is more likely to be vegan than white wines – this is because there are more places for molecules to hide in red wines. Whereas with white wines consumers expect a clear wine (have you ever seen or had a cloudy white wine?).

Wine and Added Non-Vegan Ingredients

It is unusual for a wine to not be vegan due to the addition of a non-vegan ingredient. Wines are almost always not vegan due to the use of certain fining agents.

As I said, it is more a case of what wines are vegan rather than which wines aren’t vegan. If you want to learn more about vegan wine, I have written multiple articles on the topic you can read here:


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Champagnes Are Not Vegan?

As champagne is made of wine, champagne can sometimes not be vegan due to non-vegan fining agents being used to filter the wines used. If you want to learn more about the champagne process in-depth, I wrote about it in my post: Is Champagne Vegan? Revealing The Truth Behind The Bubbles.

For example, the following champagne brands are not vegan:

Non-Vegan Champagne
Bollinger – uses gelatine  
Billecart-Salmon – use isinglass  
Champagne Gremillet – use milk casein  


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Liquors Are Not Vegan?

Most liquors are vegan. This is because most liquors are not fined using fining agents (they are instead distilled which is a vegan process). There are still a few non-vegan ingredients to watch out for.

First, we will deal with a few of the main non-vegan ingredients in liquors to watch out for, and then we will look at each of the six main liquors in turn.

Liquors And Added Non-Vegan Ingredients

  • Cream Based Liquors – Irish Cream liquors such as Baileys contain dairy cream.
  • Any liquors or with honey added. Some liquors, particularly bourbon and whiskey, flavor with honey.
  • Liquors that contain carmine/cochineal extract. This is a red food dye made from the cochineal bug to give some liquors their red hue. There are many ways carmine/cochineal has been labeled globally and historically such as “natural red 4”, “crimson lake”, “E120”. However, US manufacturers are now required to list carmine/cochineal by name on the label so look out for it.

Percentages of Vegan vs Non-Vegan Liquors

Below you can find a rough and ready calculation of vegan vs non-vegan liquors split across the main 6 liquors. I used Barnivore to calculate this.

Liquor% Not Vegan% Vegan

As you can see vodka has the largest percentage of non-vegan varieties vs tequila with the smallest non-vegan percentage.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Vodkas Are Not Vegan?

The main reason why some vodkas are not vegan is due to the fact they are a “creamy” flavor such as caramel, coffee, and coconut, which often contain dairy.

The other flavoring reason for vodka sometimes not being vegan is honey-flavored vodka (watch out for iced tea flavored vodka which can also sometimes contain honey).

I have put together the below table with some examples of non-vegan flavored vodkas.

Non-Vegan Flavored Vodkas

Non-Vegan Coffee Flavored Vodka ExamplesCutwater Horchata Vodka  
Non-Vegan Caramel Flavored Vodka ExamplesTwo Birds Salted Caramel Vodka Stolichnaya Salted Karamel Vodka  
Non-Vegan Coconut Flavored Vodka ExampleUV Coconut Vodka  
Non-Vegan Chocolate Flavored Vodka ExampleTwo Birds After Dinner Mint Vodka  
Non-Vegan Honey Flavored Vodka ExamplesRain Honey Mango Vodka Nemiroff Honey Pepper Vodka Deep Eddie Sweet Tea Vodka Stolichnaya Sticki Honey Vodka Little Black Dress Pineapple Honey Vodka  

Non-Vegan Vodkas – Unknown Reason

Sometimes a vodka just isn’t vegan for a random or unknown reason, such as the below examples.

Non-Vegan Vodka BrandReason As To Why Not Vegan
Pucker Vodka“Does not conform to vegan standards”
Pinnacle Vodka“Does not conform to vegan standards”
Svedka VodkaAnimal-derived fining agents
Fleischmann’s VodkaIngredients from third party vendors contain trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients
Silent Sam VodkaProcessed with silk
Platinum 7x Vodka“Not appropriate for a vegan diet”
Broken Shed VodkaDistilled from whey
Todka Vodka“Not vegan”
Sobieski VodkaLactose derived enzyme used in production
New Amsterdam VodkaPotential non-vegan fining agents

If you want to read more about what vodka is not vegan, you can here – Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises To Know About In Vodka.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Tequilas Are Not Vegan?

Out of all the liquors, tequila is the most likely to be vegan. In fact, it is pretty rare to come across a non-vegan tequila. One exception is cream tequilas which contain, well, cream. Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream Liqueur for example is not vegan.

Tres Agave Tequila is another example of a non-vegan tequila – the reason why is not known.

If you would like to read more about what tequila is not vegan, you can here – Is Tequila Vegan? How To Really Pick Vegan Tequila.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Brandies Are Not Vegan?

There are three main reasons why brandy is sometimes not vegan:

  1. Cochineal in cherry brandy for coloring;
  2. Sugar processed with bone char; and
  3. Non-vegan fining agents

Brandy Which Uses Non-Vegan SugarBrandy Which Non-Vegan Fining AgentsNon-Vegan Cherry Brandy Brands
Korbel BrandyPresidente Brandy (albumin)      Bols Cherry Brandy  
 Sanderman Brandy (gelatin)      Castle Glenn Cherry Brandy

If you would like to read more about what brandies are not vegan, you can here – Is Brandy Vegan? How To Always Pick Vegan Brandy.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Gins Are Not Vegan?

There are five main reasons why a gin will sometimes not be vegan:

  • Honey (even if it is not labeled as “honey flavored”);
  • Cochineal (crushed bugs) in some red colored gins (e.g. blood orange gin);
  • Ants(!);
  • Beeswax; and
  • Non-vegan fining agents.

Non-Vegan Gins That Contain HoneyHerno Old Tom Gin Warner’s Harrington Honeybee Gin Tarquin’s British Blackberry Gin Absintherie Des Cantons Old Major Tom Gin
Audemus Spirits Pink Pepper Gin Audemus Spirits Pink Pepper Dry Gin Silent Pool Gin Anno Orange & Honey Gin Orkney Johannistag Navy Strength Old Tom Gin Anther Anther X Taxi Gin Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength Gin
Non-Vegan Gins That Contain CochinealNosferatu Blood Orange Gin
Non-Vegan Gins That Contain BeeswaxHolyrood Holyxxxx Gin Herno Juniper Cask Gin (cap sealed with beeswax)
Non-Vegan Gins That Use Non-Vegan Fining AgentsGreenhook Beach Plum Gin – Gelatin Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin – Isinglass
Non-Vegan Gins That Contain AntsAnty Gin (contains the essence of 62 wood ants)

If you would like to read more about what gins are not vegan, you can here – Is Gin Vegan? How To Really Tell Vegan Gins Apart.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Whiskies Are Not Vegan?

There are three main reasons why whiskies are sometimes not vegan:

  1. Whiskey creams contain dairy;
  2. Honey flavored whiskies contain honey; and
  3. Whiskies processed with non-vegan fining agents.

Whiskies Processed With Non-Vegan Fining Agents  Whiskies That Contain Dairy ExamplesWhiskies That Contain Honey Examples
Angel’s Envy Bourbon Whiskey (finished in barrels cleared with gelatin)  Salamanca cream whiskey liquor  D’Entrecasteaux Honey Whisky Liqueur  
Jeremiah Weed (gelatin)  Revelton Whiskey & Cream  Mississippi River Queen Bee Honey Whiskey  
 Hellyers Road Whisky Cream Liqueur  Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
 Big Spring Cream BourbonJack Daniels Ready To Drink Range
 Black Button Bourbon CreamDrambuie Scotch Whiskey  
  Demijohn Bramble Scotch Whisky Liqueur  

If you would like to read more about whether whiskey is always vegan, you can here – Is Whiskey Vegan? How To Actually Pick Vegan Whiskey.


Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Rums Are Not Vegan?

Occasionally a rum is not vegan due to one of the following reasons:

1. Honey (usually in flavored or spiced rums);

2. Non-vegan sugar (e.g. Malibu uses sugar that is processed in a non-vegan way – most likely bone char); or

3. Dairy is added – most commonly in rum creams. Occasionally flavored rums (e.g. caramel rum) contain dairy

Non-Vegan Rums – HoneyNon-Vegan Rums – DairyNon-Vegan Rums – Non-Vegan Sugar
Siesta Key flavored rumsRum Chata  Malibu
Adelaide Hills Gunnery Spiced White Rum  Rum-Bar Rum Cream   
Salford Honey Rum  Tamar Tipple Salted Caramel Rum Liqueur   
Tammar Tipple Honey Rum & Spiced Rum  Tamar Tipple Rum Toffee and Apple   
Cayo Grande Club Ron Miel  

If you would like to read more about whether Rum is always vegan, you can here – Is Rum Vegan? Surprises You Need To Know About In Rum.

G. Cocktails

Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Cocktails Are Not Vegan?

  1. Some pre-made cocktail mixers contain dried milk, particularly powered cocktail mixers. Even non-creamy contains mixers can sometimes contain milk, such as daiquiri and margarita mixes.
  • Any creamy cocktails ordered in a bar will not be vegan. Examples include White Russian, some coffee cocktails, and Irish coffee. The one exception to this is Pina Coladas which are creamy but traditionally made with coconut milk or cream.
  • Any cocktails with eggs added – this is most commonly sour drinks. Most sour cocktails such as whiskey sours have egg added – so if you order a sour drink when out just request the bartender to make it without the egg.
  • Bloody Mary’s – traditional Bloody Mary cocktail contains Worcestershire sauce which contains anchovies. If you are making a Bloody Mary at home, you can just use a vegan Worcestershire sauce or vegan Bloody Mary mix (I go through my favorites in the post I wrote about it – Vegan Bloody Mary – Everything You Need To Know To Make The Best Vegan Bloody Mary). If you are ordering in a bar just make sure to order without the Worcestershire sauce.
  • Sugar – one final thing to watch out for is the sugar used in any drinks (usually cocktails or pre-made mixers). In the US bone char is sometimes used to process cane sugar. It is nearly impossible to know if bone char has been used or not (unless the sugar is labeled as beet, organic or raw). Also, outside of the US bone char doesn’t tend to be an issue as the use of bone char is more heavily regulated outside the US.

H. Hard Seltzer

Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

As a general rule, hard seltzers are vegan. The main non-vegan ingredient to watch out for in hard seltzer is honey.

For example, Truly Hard Seltzer Iced Tea variety is not vegan due to the presence of honey (but all other Truly seltzers look to be vegan). The only other potential non-vegan ingredient is sugar potentially processed with bone char. Which may be an issue for strict vegans. You can read more about it in the post I wrote about it – Is Hard Seltzer Vegan? How To Really Tell.

Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

What Alcohol Is Not Vegan – The Final Sip

Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks believe it or not, except for wine, most alcoholic drinks do tend to be vegan. This is amazing because when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks the flip tends to be true. We live in a world where it is easier to find an alcoholic vegan drink than it is to find a vegan non-alcoholic drink. Why the difference? Well, a lot of it comes to the craft, which is involved in brewing, making, and distilling alcoholic beverages. The people who make these types of drinks tend to care a lot more about what they are putting into them. Then the production process and various rules on what can and can not be a certain type of alcohol mean they can be made only in a certain way. Of course, the big exception to the rule is wines, which are still largely not vegan, but it is getting there. At least with the above list, you can now quickly and easily find out if your favorite alcoholic drink is typically vegan or not and what to look out for when you do pick your favorite tipple.

Non-Vegan Alcoholic Drinks

…now you know.

Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.

Please Drink Responsibly.

Like What You Are Reading

Need to know more? Think your favorite beer or wine is vegan? How about your favorite Vodka, Tequila, or Gin – think those are vegan? Time to find out – check out some of my other articles:





Editorial Team

The Vegan Bev HQ Editorial Team - helping you find the best vegan drink out there!

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