The best vegan beer taste tested
Our resident beer expert Marverine Cole brings us some of her top vegan beer choices and explains what makes a beer vegan.
Vegan beers were once considered a fad. Now they are part of the fabric of the beer industry. Why? More of us are opting to be vegan. 400,000 people signed up for Veganuary in 2020. That’s 150,000 more than the year before.
Furthermore, Sainsbury’s have estimated that 25% of the UK could have turned vegan or vegetarian by 2025.
On the beer scene, the Society of Independent Brewers’ reported that 12.8% of their brewers are working to make their entire beer range vegan-friendly. This means making a conscious effort to stop using animal products, animal additives or animal processing agents in their production to filter their beer.
None of my recommendations below use animal products to filter their beer, so in many cases they're hazy. In fact, the days of drinkers being shocked by a cloudy beer are behind us.
The best vegan beer to buy
Stiegl’s Grapefruit Radler 2% ABV, 500ml
This one is a livewire. It’s amber-coloured and cloudy, with a lip-smacking tang: a mix of the famous Austrian brewery, Stiegl’s flagship Goldbräu beer combined with soda made with natural grapefruit. The very low bitterness makes this a real thirst quencher.
The German translation of ‘radler’ is ‘cyclist’, and this is often referred to as a ‘bicycle beer’ because cyclists prefer to drink it as they cycle the Alps.
So why not let it revive you after a big exercise routine? At 170 calories per can, and only 2% ABV, it is a vegan taste sensation.
Purity Brewing Co Bunny Hop Hazy pale ale 3.5% ABV, 330ml
This delicious low strength beer from Purity is as fun to drink as its motorbiking bunny logo suggests. It is unfiltered with added oats, which accounts for the haziness when you pour.
With the pour comes a floral and tropical aroma from the combo of El Dorado, Centennial and Azacca hops.
The lower alcoholic strength does not mean it is not complex or full of flavour. On the contrary, this ingenious vegan brew is smooth, fruity and super quaffable.
Cervecera Artesana brewery Palax Session IPA 4% ABV, 330ml
This cheeky little IPA from north east Spain gives a nod to the region's style. Courtesy of the Cervecera Artesana brewery in the Rioja region, they draw water for their brews from the upper Iregua river basin.
Palax is a pale golden session, and one which – although packed with hop stars like Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo, Sorachi Ace and Cascade – offers a gentle aroma of lemon on the nose, finished off by a satisfyingly sharp, clean bitterness.
More like this
Northern Wine & Beer Co (£62.40 for 24)
Lunya (£27.95 for 12)
Siren Lumina session IPA 4.2% ABV, 330ml
This unfiltered beer is a tropically fruity number that pours cloudy, and offers the most delicious mango notes as it lands in the glass. I get pineapple flavours in the mouth, followed by a light sweetness, closing on a short bitterness.
Part-time beer drinkers and beer geeks alike will fall under its spell. Chinook and Mosaic are among the new world hops in the mix, befitting of the IPA style. Berkshire-based Siren make a cracking array of beers with groovy can art, reflecting their ethos that their beers have a magical quality, just like the sirens of Greek mythology.
And if you buy the Lumina Landing set direct from Siren Brewery, you get a star-gazing package, which includes beer mats, a branded glass and a very beautifully designed planisphere.
Green Duck Beer Co blonde ale 4.2% ABV, 500ml
A straight up tasty golden ale from a brewer in Stourbridge that has shaken up the West Midlands beer scene since it arrived in 2012.
Many of their beers are very ‘hop forward’ – but a good brewer knows not to exclude those who like the occasional breather from beers with a punchier hop character.
This is just that, and could be a brilliant accompaniment to a Caesar Salad with a red pepper dressing, or something even more spicy like a vegan jambalaya. Why? Because the long sweetness of the beer will balance the spicy kick wonderfully.
Adnams Kobold English Lager 4.7% AV, 500ml
Kobold is the new kid on the block from Southwold brewery Adnams, the makers of the famous ‘Broadside’ and ‘Ghost Ship’ beers.
As English lagers go, this is very impressive, with Hertfordshire and Kent Goldings hops and local extra pale malted barley and wheat in the mix. You should get grassy, bready and honey notes on the nose, then a very lightly sweet, yet robust crispness in the mouth.
The beer is named after the legend Kobold: a water spirit that protects sailors on the North Sea. It makes perfect sense that this environmentally conscious, energy-efficient brewery based close to the gorgeous Southwold coast has partnered with the Blue Marine Foundation, which works to stop destructive fishing practices in offshore marine protected areas.
Einstok Artic Icelandic pale ale 5.6% ABV, 330ml
Triple-hopping is all the rage and the Icelanders have joined in. This pale ale is packed with Cascade, Northern Brewer and Hallertau hops.
It envelops your mouth in a refreshing crispness which quickly morphs into a sweet, almost molasses-like finish. It's extremely hard to put down.
The Einstok brewery is based just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in the fishing port of Akureyri, drawing on the glacial waters which flow down from the Hlíðarfjall Mountain.
Wooha Brewing Hop Piñata IPA 6.2% ABV, 500ml
This is a big bold beast of a beer in a little bottle. Fruity, rich, sweet, toasty and spicy, it is a real delight. It packs a punch when it comes to hops too: Pilgrim, Chinook, Summit and Tradition are in the concoction from this outfit founded and led by head brewer, Heather Macdonald.
Add in the Speyside water that local whisky distilleries also draw on and you have a lip-smacking combo of a beer. This is a decadent brew that should be respected: sip alongside nibbles or a large slab of vintage cheddar.
Propaganda 750: IPA 6.7% ABV, 335ml
Intensely tropical and fruity, with a strong yet satisfying bitterness from a combo of Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe and Citra hops, the Propaganda definitely has impact. If you’re an IPA Junkie, this will be right up your strata.
Propaganda Brewing is based in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains, in north east Mexico, on the outskirts of Monterrey. Their beers are faves at indie restaurants and craft beer bars across the land. To cap it all, the brewery has earned itself several gold and silver beer awards in the country.
Propaganda also produce a vegan wheat pale and a vegan American pale ale, so why not try a mixed case and enjoy a Mexican foodie feast alongside?
Duvel Belgian Strong Ale 8.5% ABV, 330ml
Not only is this beer a global superstar of Belgian beers due to the many World Beer Awards it has won over the years – but it also comes from the family brewery Duvel Moortgat, which in 2021 will celebrate 150 years of brewing.
Cloves and banana bread aromas waft onto your nose as soon as you open and pour. A beautifully balanced hit of honeyed sweetness and hop bitterness from the Slovenian and Czech hops combine to envelop your tongue in a wave of creamy decadence.
Not a beer for the faint hearted or overly thirsty, at 8.5% ABV, your Duvel must be treated with reverence. It should not be rushed.
This review was last updated in November 2020. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.
What vegan beer do you love? Share your recommendations with us below…