Vegetarians rebel against fishy beer as it becomes known that many breweries use isinglass, a gelatine made from the swim bladder of fish, for the clarification or fining of their products. Fining removes sediment, which are often tiny particles from hops and malt or suspended yeast, to produce a crystal-clear beer. Not only vegetarians but also all consumers, who are in good faith that their favourite beer is a ‘natural product’, have no possibilty to find this type of fish guts in the list of ingredients. According to prevailing legislation isinglass is not considered an ingredient because it remains only in extremely small amounts in the final product. But despite this fact most consumers find it disgusting that their beer is filtered through dead fish.
The British Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has now started a campaign to ask brewers to examine alternatives to isinglass in beer or to do without any kind of clarification at all. One should know that fining not also removes haze from the beer but also takes away a lot of the flavor. If a brewery for whatever reason does not want to go without clarification of its beer there are still alternatives like Bentonite, silica gel or PVPP which are not based on animal components.
Consumers who do not trust the established breweries at all should look for beers brewed according to the German purity law of 1516, which does not allow isinglass as a clarification aid, drink unfiltered beers or even brew their own beer.