It might be a particularly unattractive word, but the staycation has never been more popular with us Brits. From the isles of Scotland to the coast of Cornwall people are choosing to holiday at home and with such diverse holiday options on our doorstep it’s no wonder.This is your guide to some of the best regional breweries and beers to look out for on your travels..
The diversity of the island on which we live is perfectly reflected by the beer we brew and enjoy, and there’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker in Britain. With 1,700 breweries producing 12,300 different beers across 140 styles beer in Britain is booming and wherever you choose to have your Brit based break you can be sure there’s a local brewery nearby. In this guide we point you in the direction of some of the best.
St Austell Brewery, Cornwall
St Austell Brewery have been producing award winning beer since 1851. Having recently scooped the Publican’s Choice award for best regional brewer for the fourth time any trip to Cornwall isn’t complete without trying their wares. Their range of ales and lagers is broad, delicious and cover some classic styles. Their flagship beer Tribute (brewed to commemorate the 1999 solar eclipse) is a pale ale with sumptuous fresh orange and grapefruit notes underpinned by a malty caramel base. It is arguably THE beer to pair with a Cornish pasty.
But it’s not all about Tribute. Proper Job is a grassy, grapefruity, piney and resinous India Pale Ale with lots of devotees. Korev, a lager, and Clouded Yellow, a wheat beer, are two summer favourites with delicate, crisp and clean characteristics that make them the ideal accompaniment to fresh fish. Then there’s Proper Job’s big brother, Big Job, Tribute’s big sister, Tribute Extra and the new beer on the St Austell block Mena Dhu, a complex stout with liquorice, dark chocolate and espresso notes.
Ringwood Brewery, Hampshire
Located on the edge of the picturesque New Forest the Ringwood brewery have been purveyors of fine ales since the late 70’s and are part of the Marston’s brewing group, the biggest brewer of cask ale in the UK. Ringwood have five permanent beers – Razorback, Boon Doggle, Forty Niner, Old Thumper and their newest beer Circadian. If you happen to find yourself in the New Forest in the summer months (a fine time visit) you’ll also be able to enjoy their seasonal offering True Glory – a nutty, fruity and spicy amber ale.
Their beers include bitters, a golden ale, a strong ale and an IPA so whether it’s an ale on the lighter side after a walk amongst the New Forest ponies, a beer for a BBQ or something to savour and sip with a delicious dessert there’s a Ringwood Brewery beer that’s just right.
Shepherd Neame, Kent
Britain’s oldest brewery, with brewing having taken place continuously at their Faversham site since 1573, Shepherd Neame produce some much loved ales and lagers including the famous Spitfire. Spitfire itself can be enjoyed in three differing styles: Spitfire Kentish Ale (a bitter), Spitfire Gold and Spitfire lager. The bitter is a fruity pleasure with caramel notes balanced by a firm bitterness and is something of a British classic.
In addition to the Spitfire range you’ll discover other known well beers such as Bishops Finger (a strong ale), the enticingly named Brilliant Ale (a golden ale) and a double stout. Adding further depth to already wide range of beer if the Whitstable Bay collection: a pale ale, a golden ale, a lager and an oyster stout. The latter is exactly what it says it is: a silky smooth dark beer that is the ultimate pairing for fresh Whitstable Bay oysters.
A visit to the capital wouldn’t be complete without a beer from a local brewery in a pub, and when it comes to local breweries in London you’re spoilt for choice. From London’s oldest brewery to one of its newest Fuller’s and Five Points histories may differ but they both produce beer of unrivalled quality.
Perched next to the Thames in Chiswick Fuller’s have been brewing beer on the current site, the Griffin Brewery, since 1816. Their flagship beer is London Pride (London enough for you?) which is a perfectly balanced bitter that complements roast chicken very well. If you’re visiting London a glass of London Pride on cask is a must-do activity. Other beers in the range include London Porter, ESB (a bitter), Bengal Lancer (India pale ale), Wild River (American pale ale), Frontier (lager) and Golden Pride (strong ale). Also book a tour of the Fuller’s brewery tour – a couple of hours steeped in history with beer tasting at the end.
Five Points Brewery are based in Hackney and have been brewing since 2013. They produce a range of innovative and accessible beers from within a Victorian railway arch and are very much part of the local community with part of their profits reinvested in local charities and projects. The Five Points Pale is fresh, zesty and aromatic and would complement a burger very well. Then you could choose from their Railway Porter, Hook Island Red, IPA or a smokey delight called London Smoke.
Marston’s, Burton upon Trent
Marston’s are the worlds biggest brewer of cask ale and their main brewery is located in the brewing heartland of Burton, a handy location for distribution to the rest of UK. They produce excellent beers under various brands including Wychwood, Banks’s, Mansfield, Brakspear and Jenning’s. Two of their most familiar beers are Marton’s Pedigree and the New World Pale Ale, both pale ales and packed with flavour. Pedigree is a light bodied, moderately bitter beer with caramel notes the New World Pale Ale has blasts of tropical fruit, apricot, melon and passion fruit. Two to seek out when in the brewing capital.
Thornbridge, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Nestled in the stunning Peak District you’ll find a brewery producing beers of the highest order. Last year Thornbridge celebrated a decade of production and have a range of beers that perfectly encapsulates the quality, versatility and diversity of beer. Jaipur is a multi award winning IPA with bags of citrus and some subtle honey balanced by a firm bitterness – it’s something of modern classic. Then there’s Versa, a wheat beer that’s fresh, fruity with burnt orange, banana and spicy notes – a summer beer of ever there was one. But Thornbridge have turned their hands to a huge array of beer styles, including Imperial Russian stouts (Saint Petersburg), sour bees (Tart), strawberry blonde ales (I Love You Will You Marry Me), saisons (Rhubarbe De Saison), chocolate porters (Cocoa Wonderland) and a Pilsner (Bayern). Whichever style your favour Thornbridge have a beer for that.
Timothy Taylor’s, Yorkshire
Family owned and founded in 1858 Timothy Taylor’s is responsible for brewing the world famous an multi award winning Landlord which just happens to be, legend has it, Madonna’s favourite beer. Landlord is a perfectly balanced bittersweet pale ale that’s available up and down the country but there’s nothing quite like sipping a chilled glass of this classic beer in a Yorkshire pub after a walk in the Dales.
Other beers in their permanent range: Boltmaker, a Yorkshire bitter that was crowned CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain in 2014. Golden Best which is, as the name suggests, a golden ale with a sweet character. Then there are two dark beers – Dark Mild (a mild) and Ram Tam, a toffee and chocolate infused beer that makes a superb partner to a decadent dessert.
Wherever your headed this summer discover the best beers Britain has to offer with Beer Explorer, our interactive guide.
What is more quintessentially British than a short break in a great British pub? Not much.
Whether you’re visiting friends or family, on a cycling or walking trip, a cultural break or a shopping spree, it can only be improved by a night in a pub, a sociable beer and a meal that can range from tasty pub classics to Michelin-starred cuisine.
Exclusively for our subscribers and social media followers, we are offering you the chance to win a 1 night stay in one of 16 Fuller’s pubs across the Southeast. While they’re all different in style, each offers comfortable accommodation in a characterful building, a warm welcome and, as they’re all run by Fuller’s, you’re guaranteed a great glass of beer.