Guinness is no longer using isinglass, a protein from the dried swim bladders of fish for clarifying the Guinness Draught keg beer, parent company Diageo said in a statement. However, “production and distribution has commenced on the bottle and can formats of Guinness Draught. It will take some time to reach the full scale distribution of these formats, but this is expected by the end of 2017.” Also other Guinness variants eg. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout brewed in Dublin, continue to use isinglass until the end of the year.
For more than 100 years, Guinness brewery – as well as many other British influenced breweries - used isinglass especially for cask-conditioned beers as a processing aid to accelerate the fining, or clarification, of beer. In the last years, the brewery was running into strong headwinds, especially from animal rights organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and was trying to alter the production process.
According to Stephen Kilcullen, Guinness Global Head of Quality, the process of removing isinglass is not easy: “Everything we tried lost that ruby red color you see in the bottom of the glass which shows it’s clear. We wouldn’t compromise on quality so we had to wait for the technology.” The normal customer would most probably not notice, but Guinness beer is not actually black but rather dark ruby red because of the way the ingredients are prepared. Some malted barley is roasted, in a similar way to coffee beans, which is what gives Guinness its distinctive color. This is now preserved by the new beer clarification process.