English Beers – What We Tried on Our Trip
- Tuesday, 07 June 2016
We spent about three weeks in England and tried a lot of English beers, so we thought we’d do a summary of all the beers of we tried. If you read any of our England Beer Adventure series, you’ll know that we tried a lot of beers, not all of them were English beers, but quite a few were. Most of them were pretty good!
All up, we tried more than 55 different beers each on our England trip (as mentioned, not all were English). There were probably more, but notes and record keeping often go out the window later in the night. Oops! To put this into perspective, this was more than 18 different beers per week. We tried quite a bit!
However, before we sound like alcoholics, let’s get a few things straight: many of the beers were not a full pint! Splitting a bottle of beer between two still counted as “trying the beer” for both people (but a sip did not). We also had plenty of no drinking days. All in all, this allowed for a good amount of moderation, although we probably overdid it at times!
English Beers – Good and Easy to Get
Not every beer we had was super crafty. Sometimes we were having a simple pub meal in a small village or we were at a restaurant that wasn’t really beer oriented. The good news is that England has plenty of local beers that are great but still easy to get. Larger English breweries aren’t like big American macro breweries. While these do exist in England, a lot of the easier to find beer is still pretty good.
The Theakston Old Peculiar is a great, relatively traditional bitter. It’s got plenty of malty goodness and is packed full of Fuggles hops to produce a very English taste. Is it good? Yeah! Is it a wee bit boring? Perhaps…
Black Sheep’s Best Bitter comes from a member of the Theakston family who wanted to go out on his own. Because of this, it’s another traditional bitter. It’s lighter and more easy to session than the Old Peculiar, and very easy to find. And once again, it has plenty of Fuggles in it.
Similarly, Timothy Taylor Landlord is another good one. A very English pale ale, this one’s been around for awhile and, if you’re looking for an easy standard English beer, it’s a good one to go with. Once again, is it the most exciting? No, but it’s still a good beer. Oh, and did we mention this beer showcases Fuggles?
As you can see, Fuggles is a very popular hop for English beers. It’s usually used for taste and aroma and showcases mild earthy tones with a bit of grass. Some have even found some mint in there. For those keeping score, Willamette comes from the legendary Fuggles hop.
Crafty English Beers
There were plenty of great English craft beers to be had as well. We tried quite a few of them! It appears that English craft breweries are making some damn fine beer, but the market is small and many of them haven’t gone overseas.
BrewDog is the notable exception here. As most of us know, BrewDog is available almost everywhere these days, and that includes numerous BrewDog bars across the United Kingdom. Love or hate BrewDog, at least punters can walk into tons of cities across the UK and find something reliable and relatively good.
Quantum Brewing Company was able to tread the line well between some more traditional styles and beers that were interesting enough to keep even the biggest beer nerds hooked. These guys are very small, so good luck finding them! We only saw Quantum popping up around Manchester. Well worth hunting down!
Five Points Brewing takes us a little further south to London, but we managed to pick up their porter in Newcastle. And boy was it good! Hopefully since we were able to find them in Newcastle, this means it should be pretty easy to find elsewhere.
Magic Rock Brewing was the big stand out though. Located in Huddersfield about half way between Manchester and Leeds, all the beers we tried from these guys was great. They were pretty far from being traditional, so if you’re after an “authentic” English beer, perhaps give these guys a miss, but that doesn’t discount how great the beer was.
And many, many more. There are some more beer highlights in our England Beer Adventure series, but, in the interest of time, we’ll leave it at those four. As mentioned, there are plenty of great craft breweries throughout England, so it’s not hard to hunt something down.
With this, there was a good balance between the more “out there” American style brewing and the more traditional English and Scottish style of brewing. This was really great to see as the traditional styles are always great, especially as the Brits do them so well. Going further, British interpretation on the new, weird, and wacky is great because the tradition is there. British beers are a lot of fun, and it was well worth the trip!
And the Corny British Beers
We’ve changed this subsection from English beer to British beers, because we also found some beers that, while good, were a little corny. Craft beer has plenty of funny beer names, but some of the beers we tried, namely in Scotland, really played on where they were from and just general tourist popularity.
The Loch Ness Brewery obviously plays on their proximity to the famous loch. In fact, they even use water from Loch Ness (so they say!). Their beer was good but not great, and, to be fairly honest, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it if it wasn’t associated with Loch Ness. Don’t get us wrong, it was a good beer, but nothing to write home about.
Deeside Brewery made some mighty fine beer, and they were proud to be Scottish. So proud that their flagship beer was the Macbeth. Any beer named after “that Scottish play” is OK in our book. And yes, it was a good beer.
Cairngorm Brewery, however, gets the award for corny naming conventions. This brewery takes its name from the Cairngorm National Park in the Scottish Highlands, and all of their beers are either named after an animal from the national park, or something stereotypical about the Scottish Highlights. These names include animals such as the Stag, Wildcat, or Callie; or just Highland stuff like Nessie, Sheep, or Witches. The beer was just as much fun as the names though, so we’re not complaining.
Overall, we really enjoyed all of the English beers we had. So much so that it inspired a whole bunch of posts, some great pictures, and even better stories!
Hopefully everyone learned something about the beers of England and the United Kingdom.
If we missed any favourites, feel free to speak up. We’ll hunt them down and hopefully add them to our beer reviews.