Vegan beer through the post? This could be dangerous. Guest post by Mouth to South
Ales by Mail, a booze emporium in Essex, helpfully delivers bottles of craft beer, ales, porters and stouts from over a hundred breweries to your doorstep. And best of all, after a brief phone call from littlevbigv.com and some sterling customer service, staff instantly added a vegan filter to the website so you never have to worry about supping those nasties like isinglass again. If only all companies were as receptive to becoming more user-friendly for vegans.
So now there’s no more need to hold up the queue at the bar while you tap an obscure real ale into your Barnivore app – before giving up and settling for a Peroni.
And no more piles of unread gas and council tax bills – now they’ll arrive in the morning with a crate of craft beer and are so much easier to read!
As I said, this could be dangerous…
So, Ales by Mail by request put together a mixed case of 12 vegan-friendly cans and bottles, just in time for Christmas as this makes the ultimate gift for the vegetarian/vegan craft beer drinker in your life. The selection, road-tested below is mostly drawn from young British craft breweries and is animal product-free – no isinglass, no gelatin, no lactose, no casein.
The Ales by Mail vegetarian/vegan mixed case retails at £29.00 and contains:
Eight Degrees: Howling Gale (5.0% ABV)
I’ve yet to meet anyone under the age of 80 who actually chooses to eat half a grapefruit for breakfast. But that eye-watering sharpness that turns your mouth into a dog’s back end when eating it for breakfast works a treat in pale ale – like this Howling Gale from County Cork brewers 8 Degrees that aims to rattle the teeth in your head by ramping up the sourness. Thin, with not much head, but delivering thick maltiness and a sour kick in the britches.
Freedom: East India Pale (5.5% ABV)
From Staffordshire, and the oldest craft lager brewery in the UK (brewing since 1995), we enjoyed this tea-coloured lager inspired by IPA styles. A heavily hopped humdinger, it delivered mammoth quantities of Seville orange bitterness – as far away from yellow, frothy landfill lager as you can imagine. There are five more Freedom lagers, all certified by the Vegan Society as suitable for vegans.
Tiny Rebel: Cali (5.6% ABV)
Instantly recognisable with its hoodie-clad one-eyed teddy bear hooligan logo, award-winning Welsh brewery Tiny Rebel took over the taps at the Craft Beer House in Covent Garden earlier this year. This was one of the best in show: bold and inventive, dry and super-lively in the mouth with over-the-top pine, resin and citrus. One taster stealing a swig described it as “like air freshener – but in a good way”. Inspired by the West Coast’s palms, pimps and pump-action shotguns, this would be best drunk to an NWA soundtrack.
Meantime India Pale Ale (7.4% ABV)
With its shapely hipped bottle, Meantime looks pretty stately and English next to some of the more anarchic-looking new kids on the block. But despite weighing in at a hefty 7.4% this was dangerously light and refreshing. Its floral notes made tasters think it might go well with cardamom-tinged Indian dishes. All bottled and keg incarnations of Meantime IPA are vegan-friendly, but not when cask-drawn.
Fourpure: Shape Shifter (6.5% ABV) – can
Whites-of-their-eyes, in-your-face hops from Citra, Mosaic and Centennial in this IPA with a smoky, caramel aftertaste and the longest, bitterest finish since the last act of Hamlet – a real thirst quencher. The doyen of the dozen.
Beavertown: Gamma Ray American Pale Ale (5.4% ABV) – can
A familiar sight in off licences and pubs, Gamma Ray’s day-glo blue and orange can depicts raygun-zapping aliens and delivers otherworldly amounts of flavour. Eminently drinkable in the intensely hoppy US style, this pale ale is frothy and fruity, pours pale orange and delivers a big, juicy mouthful of citrus – think of a can of Lilt for adults. From Beavertown brewery in Tottenham Hale, which insists canning is best to maintain its beer’s stability and freshness.
Brodie’s: Piccadilly Pale Ale (3.8% ABV) – can
East London brewers Brodie’s goes up West with this elegantly floral and tropically fruity pale ale, perfect for a session in a deckchair in Green Park or on the top deck of a Routemaster. Light, a little thin – you’ll definitely need a bigger can.
Moor: Claudia (4.5% ABV) – can
Refreshing wheat beer from West Country brewers Moor, this is unfined and bottle conditioned, so it pours hazy and straw yellow. Although cloudiness was frowned on in the bad old days of lager mania, many drinkers understand that cloudiness can equal quality, as it does here. There’s a big banana aroma as you might expect from a German-style hefeweizen, spices and citrus and a big hoppy hit as well. Moorish.
Belleville: Northcote Blonde (4% ABV) – can
This light lagerish blonde suffered perhaps from being placed in a mixed case alongside so many big juicy zesty beers. Light, fruity and dry blonde beer from Wandsworth brewers Belleville perfectly serviceable for a lunchtime date.
Mondo: Van Dammage IPA (7% ABV)
Sporting a familiar looking kickboxer on the bottle, this is an IPA in name and aroma, but tasting strongly of fruity Belgian Wit yeast, from the Mondo Brewing Company in Battersea. It certainly fights it out over your tastebuds. One taster thought it was “cool and metallic” but “would go well with a cheap and dirty cigarette”. At 7% a few too many of these and you might wake up thinking you’ve gone a couple of rounds with the muscles from Brussels himself.
Brew by Numbers: 03/05 Porter – Willamette and Centennial (6.4% ABV)
From Bermondsey in south London, Brew by Numbers pumps out a vast range of beers: the first two digits in the beer name denotes the style, the second the recipe. So 03 means porter, of which there are six types, 01-06. Ales by Mail could have chosen any of BBNOs menu as it’s all vegan-friendly, apart from one stout that contains lactose. In keeping with the style of this mixed case, they went with a modern, hoppy porter, with roasted coffee and nut tastes and a long, dry bitter finish.
Five Points: Pale (4.4% ABV) – can
A meeting of British and American brewing styles – the best transatlantic mash-up since Dempsey and Makepeace. A slightly flat, thin-headed, malty yet crisp brew with long-lasting bitterness (think crusty old Brit) meets up with dazzling, over-the-top hopping (think brash Yank) from the always-reliable Five Points brewery in Hackney. There’s certainly a special relationship to be had here.
For a chance to win the entire vegan friendly mixed case see Littlevbigv on twitter – competition T&C’s on our Facebook page