Since 2015 this report has haunted the media and now British beverages company Diageo with its brand Guinness gets serious in Ireland: They will get rid of the air bladder in late 2016.
What might sound like a crude joke is true: Since the 19th century beer and wine have been filtered through the dried air bladder of the beluga sturgeon from the Caspian Sea and other fish.
This dried air bladder consists of 70% collagen and reacts to the tanning agents in acid fluids that we call wine or beer and entrains suspended solids. Turbidities in wine and beer flocculate in the liquid and set down at the bottom, so they are filtered out more easily. So far, so good.
Vegans and animal rights activists have, already before 2015, raised their voices. They want to drink their famous Guinness stout without an “additional air bladder”.
The “Campaign for Real Ale” (Camra) has made the manufacturer work out alternative methods of filtering. Vegan beer already exists, it’s always made without using an air bladder for filtering the liquid.
Not only for vegans there is a big disadvantage: Tim Bosworth, owner of Twisted Barrel Ale Brewery form Coventry, explains that the dead fish distorts the beer’s taste. In his brewery, air bladders haven’t been used since 2014, the beer is vegan, cloudy and tastes – beery.
So the trend is variation. Many of the newly founded breweries (and there are quite a few, not only in Britain) renounce the use of the controversial process, vegan or not.
German wheat beer for example is naturally cloudy and has never been filtered through an air bladder. In the years to come, we will enjoy more and more cloudy beers, which hopefully “will be allowed into the pool without air bladder”.