Vegan Beer and Mono Beer Festival

As Mono gear up for their animal-free Beer Festival, our food editor takes a dialectical look at the relationship between beer and veganism

Feature by Peter Simpson | 02 Aug 2019
  • 71 Brewing

A vegan beer festival? Well, I guess there’s room for *everything* these days…

First of all, you seem lovely. And second, yes, Mono are hosting their inaugural Mono Beer Festival this month. It follows in the footsteps of Glasgow Vegan Beer Fest, which ran at the venue for the last couple of years.

That’s Mono, the super-cool bar with the really good record shop attached?

The very same; it’s also 100% animal-free so, y’know, an ideal candidate for a celebration of vegan booze.

Mono’s vegan?!? But I had a sausage pizza in there last week…

Oh my sweet, hypothetical boy – yes you did, and yes it is. Making vegan food cool, exciting and near-indistinguishable from non-vegan food has been the goal of Scotland’s cohort of trendy meat-free places for a while. Seeing as everyone else in the world is tripping over themselves to put on drinks festivals, a vegan beer fest is a solid logical progression.

But – and correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t all beer vegan? I mean, it’s hops and water and… other stuff?

In short, no it isn’t.

OK… care to elaborate at all?

Sorry, yes, absolutely. A lot of beer is vegan and vegetarian, but when it isn’t, it’s usually due to fish bladders.

Go on.

When you brew a beer, you sometimes end up with a hazy or murky end product thanks to the yeasts lurking in the liquid. To clear those yeasts out, brewers use a variety of tricks, but one is to add isinglass finings (bits of fish bladder) to get the murk to separate out.

That sounds like you just made it up.

Not a word of a lie, that’s how it goes down. It’s much less of an issue with bottled and pre-packaged beers, where there’s some kind of filtering process built in, but it’s particularly true when it comes to cask ales.


Then there are other beers which might contain lactose or honey, but they’re a bit easier to spot.

They’ll have the words ‘milk’ or ‘honey’ in the name?

They’ll have the words ‘milk’ or ‘honey’ in the name, yes.

Cool. So who out there is making tasty vegan beer?

Well, a lot of Scotland’s best craft breweries are knocking out animal-free beers on the regular.

Why are you talking like that?

Sorry, got a bit carried away. Barney’s, 71, Black Isle, Pilot (who once wrote an entire blogpost about how much they hate isinglass), Overtone and WEST all produce great ranges of vegan beer, as do the Mono Beer Festival’s co-curators Williams Bros.


Ooooh is right; Williams are combining some of their vegan beers with a roster of breweries from across Scotland and beyond. Personally, we’re stoked to see their tropical Che Guava lager on the list. It’s super-crisp, really refreshing and it’s gluten-free. It's like a beery Rubicon.

Guavas, you say?

See, we knew we’d get you on board eventually...

Mono Beer Festival, 11 Aug, 12.30-11pm, tickets £5-7