English beer brands do not get nearly as much credit as they should. The country, known for being a beer brewing country, has a rich history of beer making, having been the first to brew hopped beer. To uncover more of English beer’s rich history as well as its promising future, keep on reading!
Brief History of English Beer
Every story starts somewhere, and when it comes to beer in England, our story starts all the way back in 54 BC. Archaeologists have found evidence of this, referring to Atrectus the brewer in ancient documents.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages and beer has become a common drink with an estimated consumption of 275–300 litres per year.
In the 14th century, hops were added to the brewing process, giving rise to hop beer. It was a difficult process to establish the right amount of ingredients to balance out the flavour. By the 18th century, porter beer was created – a dark, aged beer.
With wars taking over the world, it wouldn’t be until the 1950s before beer began to resurface significantly, with mega and microbreweries being established. This is where things began to grow and evolve in the world of beer, forming the basis of the modern-day beer culture that exists.
What Are The Major Beer Brands In England?
England is home to many beer brands, but the top 10 would have to be:
- Stella Artois
- Coors Light
- Pilsner Urquell
What Is The Most Popular Beer In England? What Is A Famous Beer From England?
According to multiple sources, the most popular beer in England comes to us courtesy of the Americans. That’s right, it’s none other than Budweiser. If we’re looking for a more local, world-class beer, it would have to be English Barley Wine.
The beer has been labelled the grandfather of all brews and has a rich, strong flavour with pronounced malt flavours with a moderate taste of hops. It also features an aroma much like molasses, dried fruit, toast, bread, and toffee. And not, there’s no wine-like quality to this beer other than that it has been aged.
What Is A Typical English Beer? What Are The Different Styles Of English Beer?
When it comes to English beer, they’re often referred to as real ale or top fermented cask beer. What this means is that the beer doesn’t finish maturing at the brewery, but rather in the cellar of a pub. It is also only served with natural carbonation.
This may be the typical English beer, but did you know that there is more than one style of English beer? We’ll discuss them below:
- Bitter: This term refers to well-hopped pale ales with a strength between 3.5% and 7%. The colour ranges from dark mahogany to pale gold. Bitter beer can even be further divided into additional styles that include best, special, extra special, and premium bitter beers, although there is no real guideline to differentiate between them all.
- Mild ale: This beer has a low hop rate and is thought to be a low gravity beer. They’re of standard strength and often feature a malty palate. Mild ales have a dark colouring and their ABV ranges from 3% to 3.6%. There are a few more traditional offerings with a lighter colour and 6% (or higher) ABV.
- Burton ale: This dark, sweeter beer was first produced in the 16th century and is often referred to as old ale. These beers are malty with an ABV exceeding 4.5%, which is why they are sometimes labelled winter warmers.
- Porter and stout: Porter beers gave rise to stout, which is why we are listing them together. They’re darker and more bitter than old ales, attributed to the use of roasted grains in the brewing process. Additional variations include oatmeal, oyster, and sweet milk stout.
- Lager: This refers to bottom-fermented English beer. This style makes up more than half of the beer market in England. Scottish & Newcastle is the largest lager brewery in the UK, producing the country’s second favourite beer, Foster’s.
What Are Some Beers From Scotland, Northern Ireland, And Wales?
This list has the potential to go on forever, so in the effort of saving time, we’ll look at the top three beers from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
Top 3 Welsh Beers:
- Trunk and Bun
- Otley O1
- Blorenge Golden Ale
Top 3 Scottish Beers:
- Pilot Beer Iced Tea Ale
- Caledonia Best
Top 3 Beers from Northern Ireland:
- Beamish Irish Stout
- Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
- Guinness Irish Stout
What Are The Major English Beer Festivals?
The most famous beer festival in England has to be the Great British Beer Festival. The annual festival is organised by Campaign for Real Ale and is home to the Champion Beer of Britain awards.
Other noteworthy beer festivals include:
- Fyne Fest taking place in Cairndow, Argyll & Bute
- Wincle Beer Festival taking place in Cheshire
- Middle Earth Beer and Music Festival taking place in Clitheroe, Lancashire
- Craft Beer Calling taking place in Newcastle upon Tyne
- Vessel Beer Festival taking place in Plymouth
What are the Best English Beers to Try?
Finally, the main event that you all clicked on this article for: the best beers in England.
- Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout: Back in the 18th century when porter beers were taking over, this IPA came to light. While some versions are no longer in production, there are still a few that you can get your hands on.
- Newcastle Brown Ale: This best-selling bottled beer dates back all the way to 1927. It also happens to be the first Northern-style Brown Ale.
- Bass Ale: Made to stand out from the sea of dark porters and stouts in 1777, this pale coloured beer was a refreshing change.
- Worthington White Shield: Another golden oldie (pun intended) dating back to 1829. While the company has changed ownership and the recipe slightly changed, it still remains a UK favourite.
- Gale’s Prize Old Ale: This beer is a tough one, some people hate it, and others love it. Either way, people in England seem to drink it…
- Theakston’s Old Peculier: This is England’s most popular Old Ale. It is said to have a rich history, although it is still one of the newer additions to the world of English beer.
- Morland Old Speckled Hen: While the yeast used dates back to 2896, the beer itself was first made in 1979. Interesting fact: it was launched on the anniversary of the MG car factory’s founding.
What Are The Best Microbrew Or Craft Beers In England?
While the major players are worth sharing, there are a few smaller breweries that are worth taking note of. This includes:
- Cloudwater Brew Co. in Manchester brewing 816 different types of beers
- Stewart Brewing in Loanhead produces 903 different beers
- Kernel Brewery in London produces an impressive 919 different beers
- Siren Craft Brew in Wokingham produces 578 different beers that the English love
- Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield produces 518 beers, but don’t let the number fool you, people are loving their creations
What Are The Best English Beers To Pair With English Food?
When it comes to selecting a refreshing beer, it needs to be fit for its purpose. This means that you’ll need to know if it’s just a thirst quencher, or if it’s going to be accompanying a meal. And on that note, let’s take a look at beers that pair best with traditional English meals.
Best English Beer To Pair With Sausage And Mash?
Dark lagers are the best beers to pair with good old-fashioned bangers and mash. This is because of the lightly sweet, nutty flavour of the beer. We recommend Utopian Dark Lager.
Best English Beer To Pair With Fish And Chips?
Brown ales are a more versatile option when it comes to beer and food pairings. Often overlooked due to its not as extreme flavour profile, the brown ale is suitable for pairing with fish for that very reason. We recommend Newcastle Brown Ale.
Best English Beer To Pair With English Sunday Roast?
When it comes to your Sunday roast, the last thing you want is the overpowering taste of beer to take away from the delicious meal. This is why a brown ale is the perfect option, it still offers the refreshing taste of beer without overpowering the palette.
Are You Ready To Try The Best Beers In England?
Now that you’ve got everything you need to know about English beer in an easy-to-follow article, the only thing left to ask is, are you ready to give them a try? It’s definitely worth the experience and will result in a great afternoon out with friends.