Ale-8-One Still Not Vegan

Ale-8-One, still not vegan after all these years

For those of you who live in Kentucky, particularly the Outer Bluegrass or Cumberland Plateau regions, you know of Ale-8-One. It’s one of the few remaining “local” sodas, made from primarily from corn syrup & carbonated water, along with a secret recipe. Think of it as a unique kind of ginger ale.

Sadly, after all these years, Ale-8-One (“a late one”) is still not vegan. That is, the original formula, anyway. Diet Ale-8-One does not contain the offending ingredient: glycerine! Please see my update below! 

Oh, the bane of many vegans around the world. Glyercine, as you may know, can be both animal or vegetable derived and as evidenced below, is from an animal source when it occurs in Ale-8-One.

The following is an exchange between fellow vegan activist Loyd (who runs the totally awesome button company Button Badger!) and Ale-8-One’s PR rep, DeAnne Elmore. You contact e-mail her directly for more info.

Loyd: Is the glycerine in ale 8 animal derived?

DeAnne: The glycerine used in Ale-8-One is animal based. The company has explored the synthetic glycerine option but found two big problems. One, synthetic glycerine is in extremely short and supply; and two, even if we were able to purchase it, it is extremely expensive.

I hope this answers your question. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

No one wants synthetic glycerin, but why not switch to vegetable glycerine? Even if it is more expensive, vegetarians and vegans could actually buy your product then. Might make up for it. For instance, there is a vegetarian restaurant in Louisville selling ale 8. I emailed a couple years ago, and this email was just to check to see if anything has changed. Since it hasn’t, that restaurant will soon stop selling ale 8, because I will have to now inform them that it isn’t vegetarian.

I will check with our QC department regarding vegetable glycerin. I am not familiar with all the options, but was told when we researched it a couple of years ago that other options were in short supply and more expensive. More expensive is a is a big concern for us. As a family owned business we struggle to keep our costs in line to stay competitive. Our raw materials are increasing, utilities are increasing and Ale-8 doesn’t share the same purchasing power as national brands. We fight for shelf space at the retail level, and price drives position.

We understand the vegan preferences and respect their position, but changing the formula at any cost must be carefully weighed. I do intend to bring up the issue again with management.

I see what you are saying, but keep in mind that you are literally telling us that you don’t want our money. Also, I can’t think of any other sodas that even have glycerin in them at all.  Anyway, thanks for getting back to me.

What I’m saying is that our company can not offer vegans an Ale-8 that adheres to their principles right now — my hope is that in time, supply issues can be resolved and then cost issues will follow and that someday Ale-8-One will be acceptable to the vegan community.

I don’t know about other sodas honestly.  I do know that it is a binding agent and I’m happy to speak with you anytime.

Sounds like the Ale-8 crew needs the hook up on some vegetable-derived glycerine! Can anyone help them out? Until then, I’ll stick to regular old ginger ale, or Rockstar, which is 100% vegan!

Photo: eclectriclibrarian

Update 2/19 14:06: I received correspondence from Ale-8-One that this is untrue. Glyercine is present in the diet version as well, but in such minute amounts that it is not required to be labeled on the bottle. I appreciate the company disclosing this information to me when they could have easily not done so. Contact them and let them know you want a vegan Ale-8-One! Here is the e-mail I received today from DeAnne, above:

It is not [listed on the bottle], it is in the secret formula as a binding agent which falls under trade secret protection. Technically, those elements don’t have to be disclosed. The amounts are very small in a 12 oz bottle. However, I know that the amount doesn’t matter, it is the presence.

Additional glycerine is added to the process for creating Ale-8-One which is why it is listed on the panel. Glycerine is only present within the secret formula in Diet and Caffeine Free Diet. To give you an idea of the amount, a 100 ml test tube of the secret formula is just under a half cup measure, and it will flavor 600 bottles. Again, I know the amount doesn’t matter to you just the presence.

  • Casetronaut

    thank you for this info.

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  • Bora Rhee

    Sam, your consistency and dedication, down to the last detail, is truly wonderful. Much of veganism and kinder living revolves around discussion and information sharing, and your example of this is a great one. I always look forward to your posts.

    • Sam

      Thanks, Bora! I’m so glad you enjoy it.

  • notavegan

    Since there are under 10 responses at this point I would say that the vegan market for Ale-8 isn’t big enough to be worth changing their formula. They would spend more money in R&D on the topic than vegans would purchase in their lifetimes and you’re not their target audience.

  • Amy

    This is untrue. I contacted ale8 myself and their glycerin is VEGETABLE BASED! :)