If you're a vegetarian or vegan yourself, you'll probably already know which beers to serve come Christmas Day. But if you're a selective carnivore hosting a dinner party and find yourself catering for vegans and vegetarians, you might want to brush up on which types of ales and bitters can or cannot be had.
First things first, the key ingredient that will tell you whether a beer is suitable for your animal loving friend is finings. A funny old word, finings are used to clarify beer by pulling yeast sediment to the bottom of the cask. Historically, various substances such as egg whites, blood, milk and fish swim bladder have been used as finings. Some producers still make use of these today, but nowadays finings are usually made from isinglass, an extract from the swim bladder of the sturgeon fish.
Many brewers will produce bottle-conditioned beers without finding the beers, so can generally be considered OK. But not all have the accreditations that say they are vegetarian and vegan friendly, so make sure you read the label carefully when shopping.
And note that honey beers may be vegetarian but vegans will not drink it as it contains and animal product - honey.
Which is your favourite vegan/vegetarian beer?
[Image: Little Valley Brewery]