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.
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 Agents||Non-Vegan Ingredients Added to Beer|
|Cask Ales||Contains Honey: |
|English Breweries often use isinglass||Contains Lactose: |
Ice Cream Beer
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.
B. HARD GINGER BEER
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 Honey||Ginger Beer Processed With isinglass|
|Buckeye Honey Ginger Beer||Frog Beer Ginger Twist|
|Sparkke Ginger Beer||Hadrian Border Ginger Beer|
|Matso’s Ginger Beer|
|Crabbie’s Ginger Beer|
What Cider Is Not Vegan?
|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.
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:
- Why Is Wine Not Vegan – How To Know The Truth?
- Over 100 Of The Best Vegan Wines
- The Best Vegan Wine Subscription and Vegan Wine Gifts
- The Best Cheap Vegan Wines Under $5
- Best Vegan Organic Wines (And How To Know What To Look For)
- The Best Vegan Sparkling Wines For Every Budget
- 13 Of The Best Vegan Red Wine By Grape Varieties
- 10 Of The Best Vegan Rosé Wines (including Sparkling & Boxed)
- The Best Vegan White Wines And Where To Buy Them
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:
|Bollinger – uses gelatine|
|Billecart-Salmon – use isinglass|
|Champagne Gremillet – use milk casein|
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.
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 Examples||Cutwater Horchata Vodka|
|Non-Vegan Caramel Flavored Vodka Examples||Two Birds Salted Caramel Vodka Stolichnaya Salted Karamel Vodka|
|Non-Vegan Coconut Flavored Vodka Example||UV Coconut Vodka|
|Non-Vegan Chocolate Flavored Vodka Example||Two Birds After Dinner Mint Vodka|
|Non-Vegan Honey Flavored Vodka Examples||Rain 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 Brand||Reason As To Why Not Vegan|
|Pucker Vodka||“Does not conform to vegan standards”|
|Pinnacle Vodka||“Does not conform to vegan standards”|
|Svedka Vodka||Animal-derived fining agents|
|Fleischmann’s Vodka||Ingredients from third party vendors contain trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients|
|Silent Sam Vodka||Processed with silk|
|Platinum 7x Vodka||“Not appropriate for a vegan diet”|
|Broken Shed Vodka||Distilled from whey|
|Todka Vodka||“Not vegan”|
|Sobieski Vodka||Lactose derived enzyme used in production|
|New Amsterdam Vodka||Potential 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.
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.
What Brandies Are Not Vegan?
There are three main reasons why brandy is sometimes not vegan:
- Cochineal in cherry brandy for coloring;
- Sugar processed with bone char; and
- Non-vegan fining agents
|Brandy Which Uses Non-Vegan Sugar||Brandy Which Non-Vegan Fining Agents||Non-Vegan Cherry Brandy Brands|
|Korbel Brandy||Presidente 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.
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);
- Beeswax; and
- Non-vegan fining agents.
|Non-Vegan Gins That Contain Honey||Herno 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 Cochineal||Nosferatu Blood Orange Gin|
|Non-Vegan Gins That Contain Beeswax||Holyrood Holyxxxx Gin Herno Juniper Cask Gin (cap sealed with beeswax)|
|Non-Vegan Gins That Use Non-Vegan Fining Agents||Greenhook Beach Plum Gin – Gelatin Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin – Isinglass|
|Non-Vegan Gins That Contain Ants||Anty 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.
What Whiskies Are Not Vegan?
There are three main reasons why whiskies are sometimes not vegan:
- Whiskey creams contain dairy;
- Honey flavored whiskies contain honey; and
- Whiskies processed with non-vegan fining agents.
|Whiskies Processed With Non-Vegan Fining Agents||Whiskies That Contain Dairy Examples||Whiskies 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 Bourbon||Jack Daniels Ready To Drink Range|
|Black Button Bourbon Cream||Drambuie 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.
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 – Honey||Non-Vegan Rums – Dairy||Non-Vegan Rums – Non-Vegan Sugar|
|Siesta Key flavored rums||Rum 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.
What Cocktails Are Not Vegan?
- 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
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.
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.
…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:
- Over 100 Of The Best Vegan Wines
- The Best Cheap Vegan Wines Under $5
- The Best Vegan Wine Subscriptions and Vegan Wine Gifts
- Best Vegan Organic Wines (And How To Know What To Look For)
- Best Vegan Sparkling Wines For Every Budget You Need To Know
- 13 Of The Best Vegan Red Wine By Grape Varieties
- 15 Vegan White Wines – Best Pinots, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnays & Bubbles
- 10 of the Best Vegan Rosé Wines
- 5 Vegan Boxed Wines You Need To Try (& Those To Avoid)
- 10 Vegan Wines At Trader Joe’s You Need To Try
- 10 Vegan Wines at Whole Foods Market You Need To Know About
- Vegan Wines at BevMo You Need To Try
- The Best Vegan Wine at Sprouts For Vegans
- 97 Vegan Wines at ALDI You Need To Know About
- Introducing the 10 Best Vegan Wines at Walmart
- 15 Vegan Wines at Target You Need To Try
- 10 Vegan Wines at Costco You Need To Know About
- Why is Wine Not Vegan – How to Know the Truth?
- Is Champagne Vegan? Revealing the Truth Behind the Bubbles
- Is Alcohol Vegan? How to Know the Truth
- 10 Vegan Tequila Brands – Vegan Tequila Brands You Need To Know
- Is Liquor Vegan? How to Actually Pick Vegan Liquor
- Is Whiskey Vegan? How to Actually Pick Vegan Whiskey
- Is Tequila Vegan? How To Really Pick Vegan Tequila
- Is Gin Vegan? How To Really Tell Vegan Gins Apart
- Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises to Know About in Vodka
- Is Rum Vegan? Surprises You Need To Know About In Rum
- Is Brandy Vegan? How To Always Pick Vegan Brandy
- 10 Vegan Vodka Brands You Need To Know About
- Vegan Bloody Mary – Everything You Need To Know To Make The Best Vegan Bloody Mary
- Vegan Beers UK – How To Pick Vegan Beer In The UK
- 10 Vegan Beers at Trader Joe’s You Need To Try
- What Beer Is Not Vegan? Beers You Need To Avoid
- Is Beer Vegan – Introducing the Secrets to Finding Out
- Is Cider Vegan? How to Know the Pressing Truth
- Is Hard Seltzer Vegan? How to Really Tell
- Is Ginger Ale Vegan? Everything You Need To Know
References (as of 1 February 2022)