Below is a list of the popular types of beers that people throughout the UK drink.
Bitter aka Pale Ale
Bitters were given their name when pale ales were rising in popularity in 19th century. The nickname was because they referred to the sharper, hoppier beer as bitter. Bitter really is an umbrella term for more distinct categories: standard/ordinary bitter, best/special/premium bitter and extra special/strong bitter – also known as ESB.
The main differences in these bitters are their strength. Other than that, they all have similar golden to copper colour with a ‘toasty’ or caramel-like malt flavour and an ever-present taste of English hops. The yeast leaves some fruity aromas.
Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
IPAs were supposedly created for British troops in India in the 1700s. The myth of it being brewed specifically for this is questionable, but out of the types of beers that arrived, it definitely retained its quality.
Most IPAs are a dark gold to amber colour. Its aromas are predominately from the earthy, floral English hops, combined with a toasty or caramel-like malt flavour and fruity traces. They are significantly less fruitier and citrusy compare to American IPAs.
Irish Red Ale
Red beer’s history tracks back as far as the 9th century in Ireland. Their popularity rose in the 1990s.
It’s a deep red colour comes from the malt. This beer is malt-driven with very little hops involved. Whilst drinking, you may experience toasty and caramel-like flavours with a bitter finish thanks to the roasted barley.
Old ales are a strong beer and are normally aged prior to release. They are sweet and tend to have a nutty, toffee-like malt flavour. This is complemented by sherry.
Old ales are not as popular as IPAs, bitters and stouts.
3.5%- 5.3% ABV
Originally created in 1980s, Golden ale was a new style of pale ale developed to win over young lager drinkers.
It has a biscuit flavoured malt and with the taste of citrus fruit and hops. There are normally hints of vanilla and cornflour too. These beers are a light gold colour and are served cool.
Porter and Stout
Porter was a London style beer that rose in popularity in the 1700s and 1800s. It earned its name from its success amongst London market-street workers.
Stouts originated, so to speak, from porters and were known as Stout Porter. Stout was historically known as the strongest or stoutest beers in a brewery, thus the name stuck. This is what Guinness is.
The two styles of Porter dropped in sales due to British restrictions during the First World War so left the market predominately to the Irish. However, modern-day brewers are making them have a comeback with weaker strengths.
They are dark and thick beers with underscores of tastes that could include raisin, sultanas, espresso, liquorice and molasses. They have a strong hint of hop’s signature bitterness.
Porters range from 4%-6.5%. Stouts can be dry or sweet and range from 4%-8%.