In an effort to inform and educate our readers, we took it upon ourselves to try and drink EVERY beer in the UK. We may not have had them all, but we gave it our best effort. I assure you this is a job we took quite seriously. There were days when a glass of cold, crisp water sounded wonderful, but our will to find the best brews on the island persevered. Also, we were only in the UK for three weeks, so as hard as we tried we could only drink so much.
Many will say this list is incomplete without the inclusion of Ireland and we agree, so we leave this open ended, only to be completed when our travels bring us to the Emerald Isle. For now, this is the shortlist of favorites from our travels through England and Scotland:
Kings Evolution Northern Lights: Golden Ale by King Beer. Light, pal color. Slight bitterness, mild sweet and citrus flavor.
I had this beer while sitting in the Holborn Whippet in London. Samantha was next door getting her hair cut and I decided that, in keeping with proper British tradition, I should pop into a pub for a pint or two. Northern Lights is the second beer I tried that night, and it was exactly what I was looking for - both refreshing and flavorful without being too filling. It also didn't hurt that as I took my first sip Easy Like Sunday Morning by Lionel Ritchie came on the radio - what a great song!
Hollyrood: English Pale Ale by Stewart Brewing. Medium body with decent hopiness and slight grapefruit flavor.
We tried this beer our first night in Edinburgh. Hungry for seafood, we asked the concierge at the hotel if she could recommend a place that was not touristy - a question that without fail lands us in the most touristy spot in town. This time was no different, but dinner at the Mussel Inn was delicious and the beer our server recommended great - just bitter enough to compliment the mussels, but not so much as to overpower them.
Black Cuillin: Scottish Ale by Isle of Skye Brewing. Deep red, almost black color with toasted malt and slight coffee flavor.
This is hands down my favorite beer of our time in the UK. It is dark and rich and toasty with a creamy head, but still fairly light drinking with an amazing finish. It looks much darker than it drinks, but is still hearty enough to satisfy.
I tried this brew at the Chlachain Inn in Mallaig, Scotland as we sat and chatted with the owner in his small restaurant and guesthouse. We talked about our trip and what we hoped to find on it; he told us of his jump to where he is now. We played with his new puppy who stopped in for a visit; he shared the recipe for the best liquor coffee either of us have ever had. It was really a great couple of hours that we will remember for a long time - I just hope I'll be able to find this beer when we get back to the States.
Belhaven Best: Scottish Ale/English Bitter by Belhaven Brewery. Smooth and creamy with a light malty flavor and a crisp finish.
This became my fall back beer during our time in the UK. Most places had this on draught and, while I'm sure there are some that would snicker at this choice being on my list, I really enjoy the its creaminess and light body. It has enough flavor without being too heavy, so you can have it with a meal or enjoy a couple at the pub without feeling too full afterwards.
What I enjoy most about this beer, though, is the memories it occupies. Belhaven Best sat on the table when we tried our first Yorkshire pudding; It accompanied lunch at a waterfront pub after a long nature hike in the rain in Ft. William, Scotland; It was present in London having a traditional dinner of fish and chips after an incredibly long day of sightseeing.
We are not cicerones and are definitely not beer snobs, so some of these choices may not score very high on Beer Advocate and may have no medals from the World Beer Championships. We're happy drunks with a fondness for beer and for pairing it with the finest moments in life. If you have a personal favorite you think we should try, leave us a comment and we will be sure to give it a go - we're always happy to try a new brew.