After claiming the title of Beer City USA two years in a row, we can’t talk about Grand Rapids without talking about the beer. There are so many great breweries in and around the city and we want to make sure you know what beers are ok for you, as a vegan, to drink.
You might be asking yourself “Wait? Isn’t beer just water, hops and barley?” That’s true, but some beer is made using animal products in the filtering process. Isinglass is the most common animal product used for this. It’s made from the swim bladders of fish, usually sturgeon. The purpose is to make a clear beer. If a beer is not filtered this way, it is usually a bit cloudy. It really does nothing for the flavor. There are other ingredients that some brewers add to beer for flavor that make them not suitable for vegans. A few popular ingredients are honey, lactose sugar (made from dairy), or even milk.
Since most of the breweries below change styles regularly, we’ve tried to simply ensure they do not use animal products to refine the beer. We’ve also found that most brewers that add milk or honey to their beers have them clearly labeled so it’s easy to spot them. Here’s the run down.
All of these breweries are inside the city limits.
The B.O.B – Some of the B.O.B.’s beers are vegan. Those are the stouts (with the exception of the milk stout), porters, wheats, and Belgium brews. Lighter brews use gelatin as the fining agent so those are not-vegan safe. Those would include the Amber and Golden ales.
Brewery Vivant – All beers are vegan unless they contain honey.
Founders Brewing Co. – All beers are vegan except the breakfast stouts. That means no world famous KBS, but there are plenty of other brews to enjoy!
Grand Rapids Brewing Company – The GRBC is the city’s only all organic brewery. All beers are vegan.
The Hideout Brewing Co. – All beers are vegan unless they are a milk stout or contain honey. Just ask!
High Five Co-op Brewery – All beers are vegan unless they contain milk or honey.
Harmony Brewing Company – All beers are vegan unless they contain honey.
Hopcat – Most of the beer at HopCat is vegan. There are a few that use honey and a few that use lactose from an unknown source. Make sure you ask your server.
Jaden James Brewery – All of the beers brewed are vegan. However, most of the wines are not. They use animal products in the fining process so they are best to be avoided.
The Mitten Brewing Company – All beers and ciders are vegan except any of the milk stouts.
The People’s Cider Co. – While not really beer, The People’s Cider company is a brewery so we thought it should be included. Everything is vegan, plus there are no additives or sulfates. One exception is a honey wine which uses mead made from humanely-sourced honey.
Schmoz Brewery – All beers are vegan.
Just outside of Grand Rapids
You can find these breweries just outside of the city limits.
57 Brew Pub and Bistro (Greenville) – All beers are vegan except the Honey Ale and Bourbon Barrel Aged.
Cellar Brewery Company (Sparta) – All beers are vegan.
Osgood (Grandville) – All beers are vegan currently. However, they may add new styles in the future, such as a milk stout.
Perrin Brewing (Comstock Park) – Perrin does not use any fining agents. They do sometimes offer styles that use non-vegan ingredients, such as milk in the malted milk ball imperial porter, honey rye or honey wheat.
Pike 51 Brewing Co. (Hudsonville) – All beers are vegan, except for styles that contain honey or lactose sugar. All menus have beer ingredients clearly listed.
Rockford Brewing Company (Rockford) – All beers are vegan.
White Flame Brewing (Hudsonville) – All beers are vegan except the Milk Stout and Bacon Brown Ale.