Ale was an important source of nutrition during the middle ages and continues to be one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the UK today. There is an enormously large and diverse range of ales to choose from and here are ten of the very best available on the market.
Sharps is a brewery located in Cornwall that began making beer in 1994. Their flagship ale Doom Bar is named after a sandbar near the Camel Estuary that is well known locally as a dangerous spot. Doom Bar is an amber coloured ale with a malty flavour that has won several awards.
Old Speckled Hen has been produced since 1979 and is currently made by Morland Brewery and owned by Greene King. It was first brewed in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the MG factory in Abingdon. It has a distinctively rich, malty flavour, and is popular all over the UK.
Hobgoblin is brewed by Wychwood Brewery Company and is a strong, popular ale. With a rich dark brown colour with a decent bubbly head. With a sweet and fruity aroma, the flavour comes through slightly more bitter than the aroma. It has been called a classic English beer.
This brown ale was originally brewed in Newcastle in 1927, but is now produced by Heineken in the Netherlands at their Zoeterwoude Brewery. It is hugely popular in the UK and the United States and has traditionally been perceived as a working man’s beer. This is a light and easy to drink ale that goes down well after work, or on a warm summer’s day.
This is Fuller's flagship beer and has been brewed by them at Chiswick since the 1950s. It is the UK's most popular cask-conditioned ale and can be found in many countries around the world. It is brewed using a pale malt and has a solid, well-rounded flavour – malty with a satisfying bitter edge.
Spitfire is an English Pale ale that is brewed by Shepherd Neame and is one of their best selling beers. It was first produced in 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and is named after the infamous Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane. This deep amber coloured beer is an easy to drink ale that has a pleasant hoppy bitter flavour to it.
Old Crafty Hen is brewed by Morland Brewery under the ownership of Greene King Brewery. This is their super premium version of their Old Speckled Hen ale. With a 6.5% ABV, this ale has a strong malty flavour and a finish reminiscent of raisins. Interestingly Greene King is one of the few brewers that continues to mature its ales in oak vats.
T&R Theakston was founded in 1827 in Masham, a market town in North Yorkshire. Their most well-known beer is their Old Peculier which has been brewed since the 1890s. It has won awards and been dubbed the ‘doyen of real ales’ by The Economist. It’s a strong ale (5.6% ABV), full-bodied, with a smooth and distinctive character.
McEwans has changed hands several times since its origins in Edinburgh in 1856 and is currently owned by Marston’s Brewery. Their Champion Ale is an Edinburgh ale with a solid ABV of 7.3% - the style is known in Edinburgh as a ‘wee heavy’. It is one the UK's top selling ales with a pleasant sweetness despite its high ABV.
John Smith’s have been brewing beer since 1852, currently at the brewery in Tadcaster in North Yorkshire and have been owned by Heineken since 2008. Their most popular beer is the Extra Smooth and is one of the highest selling ales in the UK. With a low ABV of 3.6% and a malty, caramel flavour this is an easy drinking ale.