Nearly every society in the world has created its own version of beer using all different ingredients until today where hops are the norm. Germany, America, a few others are often pointed to as the greatest producers of beer in the world. That has closed off many customers minds to countries producing a wide range of fantastic beers, including England. Yet England and the surrounding isles have been creating beers that are able to rival any other offering around. That fact is only just starting to catch on but there is already a list of beers that enthusiasts think everyone needs to try before they die. We’ve put together a small list to help you get started.
A straight forward beer that pulls no punches, Harvey’s Blue Label is crafted by Harvey’s Brewery located near Brighton. The brewery has a long and storied history, reaching back to the 18th century. Blue Label is an ale that perfectly expresses everything the distillery has learned through the centuries. An extremely malty and somewhat sweet beer it offers an interesting happiness. It’s an easy drinking ale with its low 3.65% ABV making it perfect for nearly any situation.
At its most basic Old Tom is an old ale, a beer that has been aged and occasionally mixed with a younger beer giving it an oaky almost wine kind of quality; making it similar to a barley wine. Old Tom is among the most famous old ales on the market today, first appearing sometime around the start of the 1900’s. It isn’t the strongest selling beer on the market but it has won the Supreme Champion award at the CAMRA Winter Beers festival in 2000. Although Robinson’s now describes Old Tom as a barley wine as old ale went out of fashion.
Similar to other brown ales crafted in Southern England Mann’s Brown Ale is a mild ale that has sugar added to it before it’s bottled. This creates a sweet and malty flavor that has been described as “coca cola with a kick”, Mann’s is first and original brown ale. Created in 1902 where its unique flavor was initially out of style with public demand, it didn’t take off until the 1920’s. Its full flavor was everything people were looking for during the harsh times. Today it is in danger of disappearing as customers turn towards lighter, crisper beers.
First crafted in 1777, when porters and dark stouts were popular, Bass Distillery founder William Base set out to create pale hoppy beer. He succeeded and his efforts were met with huge and sudden popularity. Today customers know this style better as an Indian Pale Ale or IPA, which has become more popular than ever in recent years. Bass Ale is still made today and its importance to the beer market today cannot be overstated. Two versions are currently bottled with Our Finest Ale being the closest to the original and the best.
Originally made in 1927, its has now become the top selling bottled beer in Europe as well as the most famous English beer; it is also famous for being the original Northern-style brown ale. Its creator Jim Porter had set out to craft a drink that rivaled the quality of Bass Ale. Porter’s attempts to mimic and expand on Bass’s success failed but he did succeed in creating the northern brown ale we know today. It stands apart from the traditional British brown ale with its stronger taste and scent.
Sadly we can’t create a list of all the different brews the English isles have to offer, there is an unbelievable list of unique brands brews from the tiny island nation. This list represents a jumping off point for beer enthusiasts starting their journey into the world of English beers. The brews on our list represent the oldest and most unique types of beers to come out of England. Dating back to the 18th century, several of these brews have not only maintained their original quality, they’ve expanded on it. That is what makes them the perfect place to start a journey into the English beer world.