Beer

Brewery boss: Isinglass ban only if consumers demand

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Brewer's opinion: only public demand will force isinglass ban
Brewer's opinion: only public demand will force isinglass ban

Related tags: Brewing, Isinglass

Isinglass will only be banned in beer if consumers pressure breweries to eliminate the fish-based fining agent, a brewery boss has told The Morning Advertiser.

Following inaccurate reports in the national press​, demand for St Peter’s Brewery’s vegan-friendly beer had increased said chief executive Steve Magnall.

But to ban isinglass, the Food Standards Agency would have to get involved. He added: “There would have to be a reason for doing it so I think it is more likely that consumer demand saying ‘we want this’ will drive things better than a blanket ban would.”

Magnall went on to say that St Peter’s was looking into expanding its range of vegan-friendly products following the furore surrounding isinglass and the brewery had received interest particularly in its fish-free beer.

Changing tastes

A sudden influx in demand was due to several reasons, Magnall added. He said: “I think there has been a rise in fresher beers that are unpasteurised or untreated, and people are more accepting of that.

“They are more accepting of different flavours and people’s palates have changed over the years.”

There was also a need for education on beer styles, he explained. “I think cloudy is associated with dirty so, as a result, I think education is important.”

The benefits of producing isinglass-free beer are vast. He said: “By claiming you’re not using fish swim bladders, this means you are doing something good for both the environment and for nature.

“Provided what you are using is a suitable alternative because if it causes a different carbon footprint, you will have a different battle to have within your mindset about what is right and what is wrong.”

Currently, the brewery’s vegan-friendly beer is also alcohol-free. Magnell added: “Because our ‘Without Alcohol’ is only one of our brews, we have been able to use the additional conditioning time as part of the process and that is why we have been able to avoid using isinglass and can truly claim that it is a vegan product.”

Rising trade

Editor of the Good Beer Guide ​and vegetarian Roger Protz​ said figures from this year’s guide had shown the number of breweries producing vegetarian and vegan-friendly beers are on the up.

“I’m a vegetarian and even I can see that veganism is taking off like a proverbial steam train. The number of restaurants and pubs offering vegan options is quite astonishing.”

However, Protz added: “The feeling is that it isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians.

“There must surely, in the 21st​ century, be a better method of making beer clear than using 19th​ century technology that requires poor old fish to give up their bladders that are boiled and turned into a glutinous subject which is poured into casks of beer. It is just so outdated.

“I don’t think you have to be a vegetarian or vegan as a lot of people who are just straight down the middle carnivores are going to ask ‘do we really have to have fish bladders in the beer-making production system?’”

Yet, the beer writer didn’t want isinglass to be banned, rather he wanted a “friendly and rational” conversation about its use.

Scottish brewer BrewDog claimed to “embrace veganism”​ earlier this year after rejecting the use of isinglass in 23 of its beers.

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