As promised a few years ago, Guinness has made changes to its centuries-old recipe to get rid of a fish-derived gelatin used to filter extra yeast from the brew. That means that vegetarians and vegans who prefer not to consume beer processed with fish can order a Guinness.
The gelatin product is called isinglass, and is made from dried swim bladders of fish. It was a hot technology of the early 18th century, used to filter yeast and sediment out of the bottom of barrels so that beer didn’t have to be thrown away.
Today, most beers use a synthetic gelatin for filtration, but cask-brewed beers stuck with old-school isinglass because there wasn’t an acceptable alternative.
“Everything we tried lost that ruby red color you see in the bottom of the glass which shows it’s clear,” the head of quality for Diageo, maker of Guinness, explained to the Times. “We wouldn’t compromise on quality, so we had to wait for the technology.”
The filtration that the company will now use only came about in the last decade, and the company says that it does a better job of removing yeast with no change to the flavor. Sad vegetarians forced to drink other brews weren’t the reason why the company made this change, but it’s a happy side effect.
“Full distribution of bottle and can formats will be in place by the end of 2017, so until then, our advice to vegans is to consume the product from the keg format only for now,” the company explains on its FAQ, while promising that the new formula will be available in cans and bottles by the end of 2017.