British beer brands have a long and rich history of quality and finesse and are enjoyed across Europe and the world over. Records indicate that the Brits are the second highest beer-consuming people aside from the Germans, which is an indication of a vibrant beer industry. Our experts have sampled some of the finest beers from Britain and have selected a few as their choicest.
We present a list of the best ales from Great Britain and what to expect when you purchase one from the nearest pub.
The Best British Beer Brands
These beers are trendy in Britain and all across the globe, thus getting your hands on them should not be difficult. Though they are also among the highest-rated ales in Great Britain, this list is inconclusive; neither are the beers listed in any particular order. Here are the most popular British beer brands:
– London Porter
From Fuller’s Brewery in North London comes this exquisitely crafted and award-winning English-style porter. The Brewery has been around since 1845 and has churned out a variety of tasty beers, with this porter being their flagship product. The beer comes in a Euro bottle that pours a dark brown hue crowned by a beige head that takes some time to disappear. The aroma is complex with the nose picking up scents of roasted malt, toffee and chocolate with notes of hops.
The taste follows the nose, with the coffee flavor taking the lead then followed by chocolate and slight hoppy bitterness at the tail end. The finish is dry with notes of herbal spice and a lingering aftertaste of roasted malt and chocolate. The mouthfeel is soft and creamy with nice carbonation and a medium body that feels good on the palate. Its ABV is 5.4 percent and it goes down easily with boiled bacon and cabbage.
– Chorlton Pale Ale
Chorlton is a typical cask ale — a brewing style that went out of fashion in the 90s but has recently found a resurgence among British breweries. Also called real ale, it is produced when an ale goes through secondary fermentation in the same vessel from which it was dispensed. It is neither filtered nor pasteurized. Chorlton pours a bright golden amber color with a thick head that has an average retention and leaves behind a nice lacing.
The blonde beer has a fruity aroma and a crispy taste that features the choicest hops from New Zealand and America. It has a bittersweet taste that feels great on the tongue and a dry finish that is reminiscent of pale beers. Chorlton has an ABV of 4.0 percent and is a crushable beer that can be downed in a matter of minutes. It is a refreshing beer that is great for a hot sunny day.
– Milk Stout
This product by Black Sheep Brewery is a sweet beer that features a pitch-black color with a thin tan head when poured. It is a creamy beer that smells like chocolate with notes of roasted malts, toffee and hops. You can taste the flavor of chocolate as well as roasted malts with notes of lactose, oatmeal, cocoa and coffee. The mouthfeel is cream-dominated but slightly pungent as it is full-bodied and coats the mouth pretty well.
The beer’s ABV is 4.4 percent and has a creamy finish with a bittering hops aftertaste that is perfectly balanced by the roasted malts and chocolates. It pairs well with fried calamari or fried oysters and goes down smoothly. This is a great beer for a stormy night.
– Guinness Draught
Guinness is among the most famous English beer brands across the world and is consumed in over 45 countries, including the US. The Guinness Draught is an Irish stout that comes in a dark bottle or can with a 4.2 percent ABV and a 40 IBU. The drink pours dark brown color with nuances of ruby around the edges which adds to its allure. The soapy head is off-white and has great retention that leaves traces of lacing around the insides of the glass.
The aroma lacks intensity but you can still smell the presence of roasted barley, milk chocolate, and coffee with notes of grass. The flavor is the same as the smell with nothing too pronounced except a perfect mix of barley, milk, chocolate and hoppy bitterness. The beer is watery, which makes it easily quaffable as it leaves a rich bitter aftertaste that lingers around the sides and backend of the tongue. Guinness Draught has a wet mouthfeel and average carbonation with a fine body and pairs well with beef stew or baked salmon.
– Imperial Stout
This is another cask beer rated among the finest in Great Britain with massive patronage and great reviews. It comes in a deep brown bottle with white labels that runs across its neck and middle. Its color is deep black and features a tan-colored thick froth that lasts right until the last sip, leaving patches of foam in the glass. The aroma is strong and boozy and features molasses, toffee, dark fruits, oranges, brown sugar and smoked wood.
Its flavor is rich in dark chocolate, roasted grain, dark malts, dried fruits and molasses with notes of prunes, coffee, herbs, yeast and milk chocolate. The mouthfeel is a bit creamy with a medium body, light carbonation and a slightly odd finish that can be off-putting. The ABV of the beer is 9 percent, which is quite high but the alcohol is rarely felt. The aftertaste is bittersweet, which shows that the brewers did an excellent job of balancing the sweetness with acidity.
– Smithwick’s Imported Premium Irish Ale
This is a red ale brewed in the style of Irish ale by Guinness Limited, Ireland, and it comes in a brown bottle with red labeling across the middle. It pours a clear ruby red with a creamy brown head that dissipates slowly. The alcohol beer features a clean and delicate aroma with notes of malt, hops, citrus, caramel and herbs. The flavor follows the nose as there is an initial taste of roasted malts, followed by hints of citrus then comes the caramel and the herbs.
The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth with average carbonation and a medium body that goes down smoothly with every sip. There is some slight tartness at the end of every swallow but it is not too noticeable. The beer has a dry finish and an astringent aftertaste coupled with notes of roasted malts that linger. A great beer that strikes a perfect balance between malt and hops and makes great company while you read your favorite novel or newspaper.
– Birra Moretti
Originally an Italian beer, this sud is brewed by Heineken’s UK branch and is among the most consumed European Pale Lagers in Britain. It comes in a standard beer bottle with a golden crown that sits gorgeously atop the bottle. The beer is a transparent golden beauty with a fluffy white head that has good retention. The aroma is malt-dominant with nuances of herbs, pale bread, barley and yeast.
The taste features notes of malt, hops and barley; nothing too extraordinary but it’s quite tasty and very drinkable. The 4.6 percent ABV means you can down a few more bottles while enjoying a football game or a night out with friends. The beer has a lively carbonation, a medium body, and a slightly bitter aftertaste. The finish is a bit watery and it goes down well with pizza or white meat.
– Kronenberg 1664
Kronenbourg Brewery has a rich history that goes back to the 17th Century and their beer, Kronenberg 1664, is evidence of their mastery. Owned by the Carlsberg Group, the brewery sold its first beer in the UK to celebrate the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Today, it has become a staple of the UK beer scene as it is among the most consumed ales in the Kingdom. Kronenberg 1664 is a European Pale Lager, which means you should expect a transparent golden sud that is easy to drink with a little bit of tartness.
The aroma of the beer features hints of malt, grain, clove and floral herbs. Its taste is crispy and clean with notes of malt, wheat, bitter floral hops and some spiciness. The mouthfeel is smooth with average carbonation and a medium body, comparable to Stella Artois beer. It is one of the oldest English beer brands in Great Britain, however, don’t expect to be blown away by this sud as it has a watery finish and astringency that can put you off.
– Worthington’s White Shield
This beer is produced as a collaboration between Museum Brewing Company and White Shield Brewery, all located in England. It is an English India Pale Ale that boasts an amber body and a nice effervescence that produces a creamy three-finger beige thick head. The beer features a restrained aroma that includes caramel, floral notes, citrus, bread and earthiness. The taste is quite complex, with the tongue picking up hints of caramel, hops, fruits, malts and floral notes.
The beer’s ABV is 5.6 percent; it has a medium carbonation with a nice body and a dry finish that features a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is a clean and crisp beer that wraps around the tongue and coats the mouth quite well. To enjoy the complex aroma and deep flavor, we recommend that you serve this sud at 50 degrees Fahrenheit and drink it with mango, salmon, or mackerel. It is a unique experiment on the English IPA style, so expect a few surprises from the ale.
– Schiehallion Craft Lager
From Scotland comes another European Pale Lager, Schiehallion Craft Lager, which was introduced in the early 2000s and is fast becoming one of the top British beer brands. It comes in a brown bomber bottle with a black crown top and pours a slightly hazy golden color with a few bubbles. The head is about two fingers thick and takes a while before disappearing, leaving a strain of white creamy lace in its wake. The aroma is bread-like with notes of dough, malt, fruits, citrusy rind, grain and herbal floral hops.
Its taste is a bit sugary with bread, grain, fruity hops, hints of honey and light malts. It exhibits lively carbonation with an average body and a dry finish that is a bit sweet. Its ABV is 4.8 percent, giving you more room to enjoy this lovely lager before tipsiness sets in. It is a perfect beer for a warm evening and pairs well with french fries, pizza, or spicy chicken wings.
– Saison Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a Saison-style beer that is brewed by Partizan Brewery in England. It is a golden beer with lots of tiny golden bubbles rushing to the surface when poured. The aroma is dominated by zesty lemon with hints of lemongrass and fruits reminiscent of old barnyard beers. The beer is bottle-conditioned, so be careful not to shake it before drinking or you’ll lose a chunk of the beer to the table/floor.
The flavor follows the nose, however, it is a bit bland as neither the lemon nor the lemongrass stands out. The beer has a light carbonation with a medium body and a low ABV of 3.8 percent, which is typical of Saison beers. It has a slightly watery finish and hints of bitterness in the aftertaste, but it is generally a crushable ale. It is a seasonal ale that is made for the hot summer days and pairs well with fried chicken or roasted pork.
– The Porter
Anspach and Hobday’s The Porter is one of the finest English dark beer brands. The beer features a pitch-black color with a thin beige head that leaves mild sporadic lacing around the inner sides of the glass. The scent showcases dark chocolate, roasted malt, floral herbs, cocoa, vanilla and a kiss of molasses. The initial taste is chocolate and roasted malt followed by roasted barley with a bit of bitterness, probably from the presence of hops.
The flavor has depth and vibrancy, which excites the palate and warms up the mouth. The Porter has a medium roasted body with average carbonation and a slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers for a while. It has a 6.7 percent ABV that goes down slowly due to its heavy texture but not too slow to the point of sticking on the palate and throat. It is an excellently brewed ale that represents its style very well and it pairs well with braised dishes.
– Bass Pale Ale
The final beer in our list is part of the British beer brands red triangle — a group of beers that feature a red triangle on their labels. Bass is produced by Bass Brewers Limited and it is sold in a long-neck bottle with a gold crown top. It pours a clear copper color featuring a two-finger creamy crown that has average retention. Bass showcases an aroma of malt and grain mixed with bananas and sourdough bread.
The taste is slightly metallic with notes of bread, malt, grain and some fruity goodness in the mix. The carbonation is impressive with a good amount of effervescence and a thin body that flows smoothly. It has a 5.1 percent ABV, an IBU of 32, and a dry finish with a slightly hoppy aftertaste that lasts long on the palate. It is the best British beer available in US and pairs well with English cheese, meat pie or burgers.
British beers are known for their many exquisite traditional and experimental beer styles, making it difficult for us to come up with the best among the lot. However, our experts did that and here is a recap of all that they had to say:
- Chorlton Ale and Schiehallion Craft Lager are among the finest craft beers to be brewed in Britain.
- Though Kronenberg 1664 is a popular beer and has a rich tradition, its watery finish and bitter lingering aftertaste put it a tad below the top 5.
- Anspach and Hobday’s The Porter is among the best dark lagers that are sure to give you value for money while Birra Morretti is very crushable on a sunny afternoon.
Overall, beers from Britain have a rich aroma and complex taste which are best enjoyed at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of them are available in the US, so contact your local pub for that tasty British ale.