The Beer Guide
Since claiming the title of Beer City USA in 2013, we can’t talk about Grand Rapids without talking about the beer. There are so many great breweries in and around the city and we want to make sure you know what beers are ok for you, as a vegan, to drink.
You might be asking yourself “Wait? Isn’t beer just water, hops and barley?” That’s true, but some beer is made using animal products in the filtering process. Isinglass is the most common animal product used. Made from the swim bladders of fish, usually sturgeon, are used to "clarify" beer. Finings as they're known, remove the cloudiness in certain styles. Other non-vegan finings include gelatin There are other ingredients that some brewers add for flavor that make them not suitable for vegans. Popular ingredients are honey, lactose sugar (made from dairy).
Since most of the breweries below change styles regularly, we’ve tried to simply ensure they do not use animal products to refine the beer. We’ve also found that most brewers that add dairy-based prducts or honey to their beers have them clearly labeled so they're easy to spot.
Please note: We make every effort to keep this list up to date, and we rely on the brewery staff to inform us of ingredients and brewing techniques. If you find misinformation on this list, please contact us so that we can correct it.
All of these breweries are inside the city limits.
Atwater Brewery in GR - All beers are vegan except those that contain honey. Those are usually noted as such, but it's best to check with staff to be sure.
Artkos Meadery - Every brew contains honey. Not vegan-friendly.
BOB's Brewery – Use extreme caution when ordering from here. Not all of the beers are vegan and staff aren't knowledgeable of the brewer's techniques. Some beers use collagen and gelatin as fining agents (usually the lighter toned beers like Amber and Golden ales). Some beers use honey and dairy as ingredients. We have been told that the darker beers (with the exception of the milk stout) are safe, like the porter. In our opinion, staying away from this brewery is the safest option.
Boston Square Brewing Company - Opening in 2020!
Brass Ring Brewing - All beers are vegan.
Brewery Vivant – All beers are vegan unless they contain honey.
Broad Leaf Beer - Most beers are vegan. The exceptions are obvious, like an occasional one made with crickets. They also offer an extensive vegan menu.
City Built Brewing Co. - All beers are vegan unless noted otherwise on the menu. Stay away from sour brews (almost all use dairy yogurt as an ingredient), or anything that notes honey or lactose sugar as an ingredient.
Creston Brewery - All beers are vegan unless otherwise noted. These would be beers that include honey or dairy as an ingredient.
East West Brewing Co. - Everything is vegan except the "Princess Bon Bon" fruit beer.
Elk Brewing - Most beers are vegan. Beers to watch out for are cream ales (honey) and milk stouts dairy lactose).
Founders Brewing Co. – All beers are vegan. This includes breakfast stouts which previously contained dairy. Here's how it breaks down - Breakfast stout 2017-present, CBS 2018-present, and KBS 2019-present all DO NOT contain any dairy. Anything made prior to these dates contain chocolate that has dairy in them.
Fountain Hill Brewery - All beers are vegan.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company – The GRBC is the city’s only all organic brewery. All beers are vegan.
Greyline Brewing Co. - Coming soon!
Harmony Brewing Company – All beers are vegan unless they contain honey.
High Five Co-op Brewery – All beers are vegan unless they contain milk or honey.
Hopcat – Most of the beer at HopCat is vegan. There are a few that use honey and a few that use lactose from an unknown source. Make sure you ask your server.
Jaden James Brewery – All of the beers brewed are vegan. However, most of the wines are not. They use animal products in the fining process so they are best to be avoided.
Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery - All beers are vegan except for the Milkshake IPA.
New Holland Brewery - The Knickerbocker - All beers are vegan, even the Dragon's Milk which doesn't actually contain milk.
The People’s Cider Co. – While not really beer, The People’s Cider company is a brewery so we thought it should be included. Everything is vegan, plus there are no additives or sulfates. One exception is a honey wine which uses mead made from humanely-sourced honey.
Schmoz Brewery – All beers are vegan.
Thornapple Brewing Company - All beers are vegan. The cider is not as they use honey in it.
Just outside of Grand Rapids
You can find these breweries just outside of the city limits.
57 Brew Pub and Bistro (Greenville) – All beers are vegan except the Honey Ale and Bourbon Barrel Aged.
Bier Distillery (Comstock Park) - All beers are vegan except for the Strawberry Fields flavor which contains lactose from dairy.
Castle Brewing (Greenville) - Coming soon!
Cedar Springs Brewing Co. (Cedar Springs) - All beers are vegan.
Cellar Brewery Company (Sparta) – All beers are vegan.
Gravel Bottom (Ada) - Most beers are vegan, but some use milk or honey in the ingredients. You'll have to ask when you're in if it's not obvious (i.e. milk stout).
Osgood (Grandville) – All beers are vegan currently. However, they may add new styles in the future, such as a milk stout.
Perrin Brewing (Comstock Park) – Perrin does not use any fining agents. They do sometimes offer styles that use non-vegan ingredients, such as milk in the malted milk ball imperial porter, honey rye or honey wheat.
Pike 51 Brewing Co. (Hudsonville) – All beers are vegan, except for styles that contain honey or lactose sugar. All menus have beer ingredients clearly listed.
Railtown Brewing Co. (Caledonia) - Most beers are vegan. Some contain honey or dairy, but are usually noted on the menu. To be sure, jut ask someone.
Rockford Brewing Company (Rockford) – All beers are vegan.
Speciation Artisan Ales (Comstock Park) - All beers are vegan except for honey beers. Those are clearly marked.
Trailpoint Brewing Company (Allendale) - All beers are vegan except the Milkshake IPA, as well as the Judo Hop and Nothin' Honey which both contain honey.
White Flame Brewing (Hudsonville) – All beers are vegan except the Milk Stout and Bacon Brown Ale.