Check out our top British beers to try, the first five come from James Hickson of craft beer shops We Brought Beer, and the rest from the craft beer-loving olive team. Bring on the craft beer from some of Britain’s best craft breweries and plenty of English beer brands…
Magic Rock High Wire – Pale Ale, 5.5% (Huddersfield)
Possibly Huddersfield’s finest export, Magic Rock have been brewing critically acclaimed beers since their inception in 2011. High Wire is their tribute to the pale ales typical of the west coast of America, unashamedly hop-forward and bursting with tropical fruit aromas and pithy citrus flavours; think mangoes, passion fruits and lychees all colliding with a superbly dry bitterness. They recently started putting this beer into can, meaning it can be enjoyed by a much larger audience than previously possible.
Partizan X Ale – Mild, 6.3% (London)
The label of the X Ale from Partizan Brewery wins the award for most unlikely ‘celebrity’ combination with, we believe, Xena Warrior Princess (you’ll remember her from Thursday nights on Channel 5) and the rapper Xzibit. Aside from their names beginning with X, we’re not sure why they’re on the label, but it looks awesome whatever the reason! The beer itself is a strong mild, a somewhat unfashionable style in the modern beer world but one that used to be dominant in our pre-war drinking habits. Sweet and malt heavy, this beer has a beautifully old fashioned charm which sets it apart amongst it’s contemporaries. It’s also an opportune time of year to try it as May is CAMRA‘s Mild Month.
Buxton – Jacob’s Ladder – Pale Ale – 2.7% (Buxton)
If you talk to any beer fans about Buxton, they’ll wax lyrical about their imperial stouts, double IPAs and sours, but this low-ABV session pale is equally worthy of high praise. Plus, the money saved because of the lower tax on low-ABV beers (about 10p a pint) is donated to the Buxton Mountain Rescue Team. However, this isn’t a token charity beer, far from it in fact. They’ve pummelled the beer with hops to give it wonderfully bitter grapefruit, peach and citrus flavours. Although it has very little body, this doesn’t really matter because of how wonderfully bright and drinkable this beer is.
Cloudwater Session Bitter – Bitter, 4.5% (Manchester)
Part of the spring/summer range from Cloudwater, a brewery that specialises in seasonal brewing, the session bitter is hoppy, robustly bitter, and brewed using the Vermont Ale yeast, originally an English strain that’s gone on to heady heights in the US. Despite the powerful, lingering bitterness, you still get a deliciously peachy aftertaste.
Wiper & True Milk Shake – Milk Stout, 5% (Bristol)
Relatively new to the craft beer party, Bristol’s Wiper & True make exceedingly tasty beers all complemented by beautiful label art. The Milk Shake is their take on a traditional milk stout, which they’ve crammed full of chocolate malt and vanilla pods to create a rich, sweet and velvety dark beer, perfect for finishing off a meal – try it with our malted brownies with sea salt. It really does have a feeling of milk shake about it!
All of these beers are available at We Brought Beer visit them in Clapham or Balham.
Wild Beer Co Millionaire – milk stout, 4.7% (Shepton Mallet, Somerset)
A typically quirky creation from this refreshingly unorthodox brewery, this super-smooth, indulgent dessert beer is inspired by a classic millionaire’s shortbread. Like liquid caramel in a bottle, but with a savoury edge that stops it from being sickly. Pair with all manner of chocolate and caramel-based puds.
Thornbridge Brewery Love Among the Ruins – sour red ale, 7% (Bakehouse, Derbyshire)
Thought that all fruit beers were sweet? Think again. This poetically named Flemish-style sour beer won gold at the World Beer Cup Awards in 2016 and it’s not hard to see why. Aged in Burgundy wine barrels with morello cherries for over a year, expect vivid fruit flavours combined with a punch sourness. Complex and elegant.
Beavertown Gamma Ray – American pale ale, 5.4% (Tottenham, London)
Although slightly stronger than your average session beer this is a seriously moreish, easy drinking ale that has become one of London’s go-to craft canned beers. Rammed with big, intense American hops, flamboyant tropical aromas and colourful label art make this the perfect choice for summer.
Thornbridge Brewery Ena – milk stout, 4.6% (Bakehouse Derbyshire)
Nitro beers get their name from the carbonation process, in which mostly nitrogen is used as opposed to CO2 – this results in a creamy, smoother end result. Ena – named after Coronation Street‘s most famous milk stout drinker – is a particularly successful example, with a luxuriously velvety mouthfeel and lovely subtle coffee and chocolate notes.
Meantime brew master Ciaran Giblin guides us through the wonderful world of craft beer, covering top tips for food and beer pairings all the way through to brewing techniques.
Insider tip for beer lovers: It’s London Beer Week from 12-18 March 2018. Download the Drinkup.London app for free to see where you can try the best craft British beers in London and get great deals on craft beer tastings and exclusive brews from local breweries…