Tried and tasted: best British craft beers

Raise your glass to some of the UK's top breweries

Innis & Gunn Islay Whisky Cask Laphroaig Scottish red ale

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Innis & Gunn Islay Whisky Cask 7.4%

This limited edition from Innis & Gunn is truly a taste of Scotland in a glass. A collaboration between the Edinburgh-based brewer and the Laphroaig whisky distillery, the Scottish red ale has been slowly matured for three months in rare Laphroaig single malt whisky quarter casks. The brewing process is evident in the taste of this rich beer, as it has all the characteristics of the famed Islay whisky – smokey, peaty and rugged. At 7.4% – and £6 for one bottle – this is probably not the tipple for a big session on the beers. But, because of its unique taste and obvious craftsmanship, it’s certainly worth buying for a special occasion, or to enjoy just one or two.

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Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur India Pale Ale 5.9%

Thornbridge’s Jaipur India Pale Ale put the independent Derbyshire-based brewery on the craft beer map when it launched in 2005. Something of a “modern classic”, Jaipur is considered to be the UK’s original craft IPA and has won more than 100 international awards, said Expert Reviews. So, what does this award winner taste like? Although it has a 5.9% ABV, there’s a certain lightness and fruitiness that comes through from the hops – the balance between strength and flavour is really nice. Available in cask, keg, bottle and can, Jaipur is definitely an ale for all occasions.

Lakedown American Red 4.8%

One of our favourite new releases is a hoppy American-style red craft beer which has been produced by Lakedown Brewing Co, an independent microbrewery and taproom in East Sussex. Ideal to drink all-year round, the American Red is rich in colour and in flavour – which makes it a great choice of drink to go with BBQ food or a classic Sunday roast, like we did. Using hops such as Mosaic, Magnum and Centennial, the result is a deep, rich ale that’s spicy and fruity. This really is a showcase for the best of American hops.

Salcombe Pilsner 5.4%

If a crisp lager is your go-to tipple, then we’d recommend trying Salcombe Brewery Co’s Pilsner. Part of the Devon brewery’s “Discovery” range, the 5.4% Pilsner uses British malts and Saaz and Hersbrucker hops – this gives a floral aroma and a dry finish.

St Austell Brewery Korev Cornish Lager 4.8%

Created by the independent, family-owned St Austell Brewery in Cornwall, Korev is a fresh, Helles-style lager that is perfect for a warm afternoon in the sun or quiet night on the sofa. Brewed using Cornish-grown barley, the beer has a pale colour and a clean, crisp taste that is reflected in its sharp, surfing-inspired can. Not only is the lager a perfect addition to any cooler, the company behind it is ethically motivated, having just launched new plastic-free packaging and partnering with the Marine Conservation Society to support green, sustainable initiatives. A delicious drop that you can sip secure in the knowledge that you’ve done your bit for the planet too.

Kernel Brewery Table Beer 3%

The Kernel Brewery’s Table Beer may be low in alcohol, but it’s high quality in taste. First batched in 2012 by the Bermondsey-based brewery, Table Beer is a light pale ale which is around 3% ABV. Table Beer has grown to be one of The Kernel’s most popular and influential beers, says Pellicle Magazine. We loved the hoppy aromas and it was an easy drinker.

Vocation Brewery Pride & Joy American Pale 5.3%

Vocation Brewery in Yorkshire has a great range of craft beers and lagers on offer, but our particular favourite was the Pride & Joy – a classic American-style pale ale. Crisp and hoppy, the Pride & Joy features fruity flavours including mango and blueberry.

Signature Brew Studio Lager 4%

Well known for its award-winning Pub In A Box, Signature Brew in London has some cracking beers in its craft collection. One of our favourites is the Studio Lager, a 4% pilsner that’s light and refreshing but also has a malty rye body. As well as the music-inspired beer, check out the funky merch in the online store.

Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA 4.3%

Beavertown is another London-based brewery which creates tasty beers packaged in cans with funky designs. Its core range features favourites such as Gamma Ray American pale ale and Lupuloid IPA, but for us it’s the Neck Oil Session IPA that really got our taste buds going. This crisp beer was so easy to drink that in fact we probably enjoyed too much.

Fourpure Lager 4.2%

Bermondsey-based brewery and taproom Fourpure has had quite a busy time in the past couple of years. After demand doubled in 2020, the company invested £2.5m into its facilities and also gave its collection of beers a brand new look. The core range has something for everyone and includes the Fourpure Citrus Session IPA, Fourpure Lager, Fourpure Session IPA, Fourpure Citrus IPA and the Fourpure Citrus Double IPA. We are big fans of all things citrus and IPA, but sometimes a clean, crisp lager is hard to beat on the thirst-quenching scale. Fourpure's 4.2% option really is a classic lager – it’s very light, very moorish and very much a welcome addition to our summer drinks menu.

Harviestoun Brewery Ola Dubh 12yr old Whisky Aged 8%

Harviestoun Brewery, which is located at the foot of the Ochil Hills in Scotland, has been crafting beers since 1983. After finding out that the brewery had created an ale matured in whisky casks we just had to try it. Ola Dubh, which means “Black Oil” in Gaelic, is created by taking the brewery’s Old Engine Oil craft stout and maturing it in Highland Park whisky casks. “Everything about it is extreme”, the brewery says, and we fully agree. It’s a unique tipple, but one that beer and whisky lovers will enjoy. As well as the notes of whisky, we could also taste chocolate and coffee – delicious.

Mondo Brewing Company Goza 4.7%

Based in south west London, Mondo Brewing Company is an independent brewery and taproom that produces a range of core beers and limited edition seasonal specials. Packaged in cans designed by artist Luke Drozd, Mondo’s beers taste as good as they look. We tried the Black is Beautiful 10% imperial stout, the We’ve Got You fruited gose, and a triple fruited gose, Goza. Brewed in collaboration with Cerveza NAO, Goza’s fruity notes make it perfect for the warmer months.

The Wild Beer Co Babbling Brook English IPA 6%

The Wild Beer Co in Somerset recently launched numerous new beers including Babbling Brook, an English IPA. Made from four varieties of English hops grown in the UK, this beer is golden in appearance and boasts a full-bodied flavour.

BrewDog Punk IPA 5.6%

Described by The Guardian as “aggressive, outrageous, infuriating (and ingenious)”, Scottish company BrewDog has grown into one of the UK’s most well known beer brands. As stated in its own manifesto, BrewDog was “born with the aim to revolutionise the beer industry and completely redefine British beer-drinking culture”. And it certainly did with its flagship Punk IPA. It’s no surprise that Punk is one of the best sellers in the UK because this brew is packed full of flavour. It starts off sweet and ends with a fruity bitter finish.

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