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As a longtime vegan, I'm used to looking up Barnivore. (Yay Barnivore! \o/)

However, a (non-vegan) German friend of mine recently told me that all beers in Germany are vegan. When I pushed her on it, she gave me a link to this Wikipedia article

It talks about German "Purity Law", stating only a very limited set of ingredients are allowed, and that there are bodies that supervise this to ensure that standards are met.

I know that clarifiers are a concern here.

Does this Purity Law extend to process thereby making every German Beer vegan?

What exceptions should I look out for when drinking beer in Germany?

Do the same laws apply to German beers produced for export?

  • OP: If you received a useful answer to this question, please consider marking it as an accepted answer. – Nic May 28 at 17:27
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    Yep. There is a reference in a comment by @Unor that suggests reasonable doubt as to whether the only answer is actually correct. I don't think I should be accepting an answer when there is directly conflicting evidence against it. – GutenBitter May 30 at 4:35
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Very good question(s) since I asked them myself but never made the effort to research the answer(s). To answer yours:

Does this Purity Law extend to process thereby making every German Beer vegan?

There is an official website stating:

Deutsche Biere sind vegetarisch und vegan. Bei der Bierherstellung werden keine tierischen Stoffe eingesetzt. Das auf dem Reinheitsgebot basierende Vorläufige Biergesetz und die Bierverordnung geben klare Vorgaben für die Herstellung von Bier, wonach tierische Stoffe wie Gelatine oder Hausenblase nicht zulässig sind. Was man aber wissen sollte ist, dass einige Etikettenleime Casein tierischen Ursprungs (Proteine aus der Milch) enthalten können.

Which means (almost perfectly translated via DeepL):

German beers are vegetarian and vegan. No animal substances are used in the production of beer. The Preliminary Beer Act, which is based on the Purity Law, and the Beer Ordinance provide clear guidelines for the production of beer, according to which animal substances such as gelatine or isinglass are not permitted. What one should know however is that some label glues can contain casein of animal origin (proteins from the milk).


What exceptions should I look out for when drinking beer in Germany?

This is also answered on the website:

Is it permitted to brew beers in Germany that do not comply with the Purity Law?

Yes, there is an exception for so-called "special beers" in the Act (§ 9 Paragraph 7 Provisional Beer Act). This regulation applies to all federal states except Bavaria. This enables brewers to produce beers with spices such as anise, cinnamon or cloves as well as fruits such as orange or cherry. Well-known beer styles that have always deviated from the strict purity law include Berliner Weiße and Leipziger Gose. According to the existing law, only those additional ingredients may be used that give the beer a special character or taste. Malt or hop substitutes are also not permitted for "special beers". In addition, it is permitted to deviate from the purity requirement for beers for export. "Special beers" and beers for export that deviate from the Purity Law must be approved by the relevant state authorities. Those who do not brew more than 200 litres of beer per year at home do not have to comply with the Purity Law either.


Do the same laws apply to German beers produced for export?

This is answered above: "In addition, it is permitted to deviate from the purity requirement for beers for export. "Special beers" and beers for export that deviate from the Purity Law must be approved by the relevant state authorities."

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    Could you link directly to the page in question? reinheitsgebot.de is a website by a german brewer association (by no means 'official') and i cannot even find the word 'vegan' with their internal search... --- The Reinheitsgebot actually is just about what goes into the beer, not what is used in the process. Animal products may be used for clearing the beers. to be clear: For cost reasons most, if not all, producers of beer in germany clear their beer with non-animal products, BUT the reason is cost, not that the Reinheitsgebot prevents it. – loonquawl Apr 11 at 9:47
  • To make it more confusing the brand 'Bavaria' is not vegan (it's made in Holland) because it uses animal products in the filtration process. – David S Apr 11 at 9:47
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    ProVeg says it’s allowed to use animal products as clarifying agent (according to the vorläufigen Biergesetzes). – unor Apr 12 at 20:17

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