Sitting out on the decking at Stroud Brewery
In the last few years Stroud Brewery has opened it’s doors on Friday & Saturday evenings to punters in search of a good pint. It has a bar with a laid-back ambiance and comfy seating, an outdoor covered decking area with benches, and a chance to sit amongst the brewing beer kept in towering, impeccably shiny barrels!
Seeing as Stroud Brewery currently has nine different kinds of bottled beers that are organic and Vegan Society certified, produced at it’s small brewery just outside of Stroud town centre, and we as a group are keen to support local vegan-friendly businesses, visiting was a not-to-be-missed event for Gloucestershire Vegan Group. Better still, there is an outdoor clay oven on site, where pizzas are baked by the masterful resident bakers – Velo Bakery. They are very open to vegan ways, and you can bring your own favourite vegan cheese sub, which they will add to any of the veggie option pizzas.
Velo Bakery pizza with vegan cheese
This all made for a great meet-up last Saturday 21st September. Many people had never been to the brewery before, and were surprised at how such an excellent venue could be hidden away on an industrial-looking trading estate. There were over 25 of us, which kept the pizza oven very busy, especially as many people decided the pizzas were too good to only have one. The dough was thin, crispy and perfectly baked. The high temperature of the clay oven blitzed even the most resistant-to-melting vegan cheese to a semi-liquid state. The beer selection down at the brewery is pretty extensive. I personally love the ‘Black Cat’ stout (a nod to the mythical big cat sightings in the area) which is rich, bitter and dark. Other folks were enjoying ‘Tom Long’ (named after the legendary local highwayman) which is light and aromatic, with hints of orange zest and coriander. Another great beer, which is sometimes less easy to find in local pubs and off-licences, but is always in stock at the brewery is Maris Otter – a singe malt, single hopped beer, so special it comes in smaller bottles so you can savour every drop. There is also organic cider, and a selection of non-alcholic drinks and organic bar snacks.
Thanks to everyone who came along, and to the Brewery & Velo Bakery for being our hosts for the evening – we will be back!
You may be surprised to learn that beer is not always vegan. It’s unfortunate but most cask conditioned beers contain finings – wikipedia tells us:
“Finings are substances that are usually added at or near the completion of the processing of brewing wine, beer and various non-alcoholic juice beverages. Their purpose is for removal of organic compounds…historically, various substances such as egg whites, blood, milk, fish swim bladder derivatives have been used as finings.”
It strikes me as rather ridiculous that the only reason to add these products, that come from causing suffering and/or death to animals, is for the visual appearance of the beer – to make it look less cloudy.
Bottle conditioned beers more often than not don’t contain finings, but unless the label on your beer says “suitable for vegans” or is Vegan Society certified – as is the case with Stroud Brewery bottled (but not cask) beers, it is impossible to know. Unlike most other food and drink alcohol has very poor labelling, without ingredient listings.
Fortunately there is a fantastic online resource for vegetarians and vegans called Barnivore where information on wine, beer and spirits that don’t contain animal products is compiled. You can even download their phone app so that you can check out what you can drink while out and about.
There are also a few UK based breweries who do produce vegan draft beer as well as bottled, these include:
• Samuel Smiths (all of their draft beer is vegan with the exception of Old Brewery Bitter) – there’s a Sam Smiths pub in Gloucester and a bar in Cheltenham
• Hop Back Brewery
• Marble Brewery
• Pitfield Brewery
Why not ask your local pub to get a cask from one of these breweries as a guest ale?
For more information on vegan drinks – look up this page on the Campaign for Real Ale’s website