'BECOMING A VEGAN BEER ONE OF THE BEST INNOVATIONS WE COULD MAKE' - HOW GUINNESS WENT VEGAN
For over 250 years the Guinness brand used the product isinglass - which contained fish bladders - to filter its beer, but over the last three years the Irish company changed their process and became suitable for vegans.
In 2017 a number of articles claimed that SOME products were still not fully plant-based - so VGN travelled to Dublin over the summer to find out more.
Our guide Alan Maxwell provided us with a tour of the St James' Gate site and then sat down to answer some of our questions.
Firstly, is Guinness vegan-friendly?
"Guinness is vegan friendly, that would have changed in mid-2016."
What was behind the decision to turn Guinness vegan?
"Guinness has always innovated, we consider ourselves an innovation brewery, we've created nitro stouts, we've created stout as a style of beer, so we are always looking at ways we can innovated and becoming a vegan beer is probably one of the best innovations we could come up with in this modern day, it was always something that was always on our mind, but there was a lot of press about Guinness not being vegan-friendly so that probably sped things along. But it would always have been Guinness' intention to have a vegan-friendly beer.
"I would say we were almost done an injustice because Guinness took at lot of flack for being a non-vegan beer, but what most people didn't understand was that this was an industry practice, most other major beer brands were using this product."
How was the product changed?
"When you make beer, coming towards the end of the process you want to filter it to make sure you get a clean beer and a great product. In order to do this clarification most breweries used a product called isinglass which wouldn't be a vegan-friendly product. So because that product was used as part of the filtration process, we wouldn't have called ourselves a vegan-friendly beer.
"We invested a lot of time and money into the technology for this, so we could remove the isinglass product and find a way to replicate its effects. So we came up with a whole new filtration process. It means now we can 100% say we are a completely vegan beer, we are also one of the first major brands to do this for our mainstream beer."
How has the vegan movement developed in Ireland?
"Vegan thinking and a way of life, is a conversation that is prevalent everywhere, we really have to look at how we are consuming and what we are consuming and what does with that. Veganism in Ireland is a hot topic and it's on the grow as well."
See our full tour of the Guinness factory below: