which ciders are vegan?
Aside from different flavours and different types of apple, cider also comes in a range of styles. It can be clear or cloudy, range in colour from almost white to gold and amber, be virtually still or very fizzy, be little over 1% ABV or well into double figures, and can range from being exceptionally tart to rather sweet.
The history of cider is a little unclear, mainly because apples, originally from Central Asia, have been so widespread for so long. History, style and taste aside, for vegans, the main question is whether cider is made with animal-based ingredients or uses anything derived from animals in the manufacturing process. In other words, is cider vegan?
If you’ve read any of our other is it vegan? articles that cover alcohol you’ll know that filtration is usually the fly in the ointment. Not literally; the fly, or at least the insect, in the ointment is more likely, in a literal sense, to be a cochineal, used as a red dye in a range of non-vegan goods, but we digress.
Back to cider and this diverse fluid is essentially made from the juice of apples. In its most traditional form. That is it. Just apples. No sugar is added and nor is there any yeast, the fermentation process using the naturally occurring sugars within the apple juice and the wild yeasts that exist within the air. Just as we aren’t considering the history of cider, it is equally beyond the scope of this piece to debate the rights and wrongs of traditional versus modern cider-making.
The point is that animals or animal derivatives are not ingredients in cider. Even modern, mass produced ciders, such as teenagers’ park-bench-favourite Strongbow, which may include sugar (in various forms), carbon dioxide and various E numbers, don’t use animals.
As with beer and wine, it is the filtration process used to clarify cider that might render it non-vegan. When pubs started serving their drinks in see through glasses or bottles, as opposed to opaque tankards, many manufacturers sought to clarify their drinks, believing a clear, bright product would be more appealing.
When it comes to beer, this was and is often done with isinglass, essentially the dried swim bladder of a fish. Other animal-based products can be used to clarify drinks, filtering out yeasts, proteins and other small particles. This process is called fining and as well as isinglass, egg whites, blood, milk and casein (a milk protein), or gelatine may be used.
Any food or drink using these substances in the filtration process would be non-vegan and when it comes to cider, many mass produced brands still use gelatine. Sadly, many popular ciders still use gelatine – usually derived from the collagen of pig or cow skin and bones – as a fining agent and so are not vegan friendly.
As with any list of products or goods, this is correct at the time of publication and is subject to change. We hope to see more and more ciders switching to vegan-friendly manufacturing processes so if you see anything you think is incorrect please get in touch.
There are so many ciders available in the UK nowadays, including lots from small UK producers as well as others from around the world. We have listed most of the major ciders above and whilst cider connoisseurs and lovers of traditional products may even question whether some of them even qualify as ciders, they certainly cover a large chunk of the market. We have also included a few smaller brands, such as Hogan’s and Broadoak, but there are many, many others out there.
As with many issues about whether a food or drink is vegan or not there are few hard and fast rules. However, in general, the bigger producers tend not to be whilst the smaller ones are more likely to be vegan friendly. Here are some other general pointers for choosing a vegan cider but, as usual, if in doubt, ask the vendor or manufacturer unless your tasty tipple is certified as vegan.
If you’re a vegan, or just want to understand more about the products that you’re consuming, you might be wondering if hard cider is vegan. It seems like a relatively simple question, but there is a bit more to it than meets the eye. Let’s dig into a bit more.
First, as you might have noticed, some ciders proudly display wording about being vegan on their packaging, Instagram profiles and websites. But, just because a cider doesn’t have a “vegan” stamp on it doesn’t mean it’s not vegan. 101 Cider House, a craft cider brand based in Los Angeles, is one that puts the vegan label right out there for the consumer to see. Andrew Sylvia, 101’s production manager, says that they’ve gotten a great customer response to the label.
“Here in California, where we’re based, plant-based diets are super popular,” he notes. “Customers have told us that they appreciate how easy and convenient it is to find out that our products are 100% vegan.”
All of 101’s Cider House’s ciders, from its straight up Hazy Apple Scrumpy to wackier releases like The Friendly Stranger (passionfruit, yerba mate and dandelion root), are made with juice that’s spontaneously fermented with no additives.
“The closer cider can get to apples and natural yeasts, the more certain you can be that it’s vegan,” Sylvia says. “Ours are naturally vegan because we don’t add anything and we don’t take anything away in the cidermaking process.”
There are a few typical factors that would make a packaged craft cider not vegan, Sylvia says. They generally fall into these categories:
There are websites like Barnivore and PETA where you can search to find brands that make vegan alcoholic beverages, but they are in no way complete, especially when it comes to smaller, more regional cideries. When in doubt, Sylvia says, reach out to the cidery. They should be transparent about their ingredients and processes and will hopefully be able to give you an answer.
As for 101 Cider House, Sylvia says he’s happy that all of their products are vegan.
Kicking it off with an original flavour from a well-established brand, these guys certainly know how to do cider. Made with 100% fresh apple juice and available in two varieties (the above and English Berry) you don't get much more authentic than this.
If fruity ciders are your thing, look no further than the delicious range from Old Mout. This is one of our favourites as you don't get much more summery than pineapple and raspberry.
This cider undergoes a secondary fermentation within the bottle in order to gain tiny bubbles. It's then matured for two years in Burrow Hill's cellars before the yeast is removed and it is ready to drink, and it shows.
One of the original key players in the mainstream fruity cider game, all the offerings from Rekorderlig are vegan. This is one of the most popular flavours; it's basically fruit juice for adults.
This stuff is basically from the orchards of heaven. Draught is a crisp, medium dry cyder with a delicate aroma and taste of fresh-pressed apples, crafted at the original Cyder House, Suffolk.
Another regular behind the bar, this crowd-pleaser is one of the few vegan options from Magners. Great to know if you have a cider craving in a supermarket with a limited vegan selection, too.
Ok, so this is my actual favourite, but it got bumped down a notch because 1. it's always sold out and 2. I wanted to appear a bit more refined (I tried). It's sinfully tasty, and I will not be told otherwise.
This is another option that almost clinched the top spot, and not just because of the great name. Sassy Cidre, as the name suggests, is produced and bottled in France, so it's extra stylish, too.
Honestly, this left me baffled! Why on earth would anyone want to use such a bizarre processing aid in the production of alcohol?
Even if isinglass has traditionally been used, it frustrates me that in modern-day life many vegans and ethical drinkers may be unintentionally consuming drinks that are manufactured in such an inhumane manner.
Seeking solace, I buried my head into researching ethical alcohol producers.
I first came across Bristol-based company Moor Beer. The brewery was founded in 2007 by Justin Hawke, after being inspired by sampling traditionally cloudy German beers.
Interestingly, by law, German beer contains only water, hops, yeast and malted barley or wheat.
This law ensures quality and standard ethical practice during production.
Justin explains: “In my opinion, isinglass has a negative effect on aroma, flavour and mouth-feel, so we took the bold decision to stop using it many years ago.
“Although it was difficult at the time, being the only ones going against tradition, we felt very strongly about it, so persevered through the challenges.
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