Guinness is getting rid of fish in its stout

The view from the ‘Gravity’ bar at the Guinness brewery in Dublin. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Ireland’s most famous brew, Guinness, is changing its recipe after 256 years to become vegan.

Many stout lovers will be surprised that it isn’t. Best you put down your pint while Business Insider explains why not.

As part of the filtration during brewing, Guinness uses isinglass, a gelatin from fish bladders. It’s also used, along with milk and eggs, in the wine industry (check the fine print on your next bottle). That’s what the “may contain traces of…” warnings are all about. You’ll also find it in some confectionery, such as fruit jellies.

So Guinness and its global giant owner, Diageo, have decided that any meaty flavours you find in your stout from next year should only be the result of hops, barley, yeast and water and are upgrading the filtration system at the St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin to make the beer vegan.

A Diageo spokesman said the company had been looking for an alternative to isinglass for some time.

Our brewers and engineering teams at St James’s Gate are continually working to drive improvement as well as assuring the quality and craft of the brewing techniques developed here over the last 256 years.

Isinglass has been used widely within the brewing industry as a means of filtration for decades. However, because of its use we could not label Guinness as suitable for vegetarians and have been looking for an alternative solution for some time. We are now pleased to have identified a new process through investment in a state-of-the-art filtration system at St James’s Gate which, once in place, will remove the use of isinglass in the brewing process.

Guinness plans to go vegan by late 2016.

In Australia, Guinness is brewed under licence by Lion. The good news is your beer is already vegan – they don’t use isinglass for filtration locally.

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