Many people may not realise the beer in their pint glass contains a product made from fish. Now the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is calling on brewers to investigate alternatives for their drinks. But why is fish put in beer anyway?
Most will only know the ingredients of beer as hops, malt, barley and water, with a bit of yeast thrown in for good measure. It’s unlikely the bladder of fish would be on the list, but isinglass – a gelatine made using the organ – if in fact very likely to be in your average pint.
The odourless added extra is used widely by brewers since the 19th century, from mass-produced brands to small microbreweries.
It’s prevalence poses a problem for vegetarians and vegans, many of whom do not realise they need to tread carefully when ordering at the bar.
Now Camra is calling on breweries to examine alternatives to isinglass in beer, is a brewing revolution on the cards?
Twisted Barrel Brewery made the decision not to use isinglass to clear its beer soon after setting up in 2014. Brewery owner Tim Bosworth, a long-term vegetarian who went vegan two years ago, said he was shocked when he first learned about the ingredient.
Brewery owner Tim Bosworth, a long-term vegetarian who went vegan two years ago, said he was shocked when he first learned about the ingredient.
“It’s kind of disgusting to think about, even to people who eat meat, and it’s something that’s not talked about,” he said.
“Nobody really wants to advertise that they filter their beer through dead fish.”
As well as the ethical and environmental issues around veganism, the Coventry-based brewer has another more practical objection: the effect of isinglass on the taste.
“It takes away a lot of the flavour from the beer,” Mr Bosworth said.
“More people know now that beer doesn’t have to be clear – it doesn’t matter what it looks like, and isinglass is just used for aesthetics.”