I had this one a few days ago. When I was last in Acland Cellars I saw a bunch of Samuel Smith’s beer, and I noticed the small Vegan symbol on the back. Not one to shy away from vegan beer, I bought one of each I could see.
Beer doesn’t have to be explicitly labelled to be vegan, basically what you’re wanting to avoid is isinglass (obtained from dried swim bladders from fish) that is used as a fining agent.
Pro tip: if your beer has a bit of sediment in it (like Coopers does), it’s near 100% likely to be vegan (barring honey or somebody inventing a way to put bacon in beer).
A fining agent will accelerate the settling (clarification) of beer. If you’ve ever bottled your own homebrew, you’ll have noticed that the first 90% of bottles look a lot clearer than the last 10% (here you’re starting to stir up the sediment at the bottom of the brewing vessel). This then settles in the bottle and isn’t a problem – just don’t drink the last half mouthful. This is natural beer – “bottle conditioned”. Mass produced beers (think VB/Carlton/XXXX, not Coopers) are likely to use a fining agent such as isinglass as this enables them to pump out the beer quicker and not have to produce bottles that can withstand the pressure of secondary fermentation.
Pro tip: “bottle conditioned” likely means vegan too.
Basically, being vegan is a great excuse to not drink lots of shit beer.
Anyway, this is the beer I had the other night, and it was quite a pleasant porter. yay!