Here in Britain we have a unique brewing heritage, and I think that it's fair to say that beer is a big part of our national identity. We now have over 1,400 breweries in Britain, which means that we've got more breweries per head of the population than anywhere else in the world! Most of those breweries are brewing ale (top-fermented beer) rather than lager, although these days you can easily find good British lager, especially with the recent interest in hoppy lagers such as Celt House Lager and Weird Beard Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja which have all of the big citrus flavours you'd expect from an IPA alongside the crisp, clean character of a lager.

When you think of British beer, you'll probably think of a foaming pint of amber bitter, although bitter is a notoriously difficult term to define! It originated as a casual name for pale ales, which were hoppier and therefore more bitter in flavour than other common beers such as milds and porters, and covers a broad range of strengths

Here in Britain we have a unique brewing heritage, and I think that it's fair to say that beer is a big part of our national identity. We now have over 1,400 breweries in Britain, which means that we've got more breweries per head of the population than anywhere else in the world! Most of those breweries are brewing ale (top-fermented beer) rather than lager, although these days you can easily find good British lager, especially with the recent interest in hoppy lagers such as Celt House Lager and Weird Beard Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja which have all of the big citrus flavours you'd expect from an IPA alongside the crisp, clean character of a lager.

When you think of British beer, you'll probably think of a foaming pint of amber bitter, although bitter is a notoriously difficult term to define! It originated as a casual name for pale ales, which were hoppier and therefore more bitter in flavour than other common beers such as milds and porters, and covers a broad range of strengths and shades. One great example of a classic British bitter is Salopian Darwin's Origin, and some breweries are now brewing bitters with a contemporary twist such as Ilkley Josha Jane, a Yorkshire bitter brewed with zingy American hops.

Another very British style is porter, a dark, well-hopped beer which is believed to take its name from its popularity among the porters of London, who transported goods around the city. Runaway Brewery uses Bamberg smoked malt to add a delightful smoky flavour to the robust chocolatey body of their Smoked Porter, while Beavertown and Kernel celebrate their London roots with their Smog Rocket and Export India Porter respectively.

British brewing has increased by 41% in the last three years according to the Campaign For Real Ale, as more and more beer lovers decide to take the plunge and brew for a living. As well as following British traditions, our microbreweries are taking inspiration from elsewhere in the world and celebrating other beer cultures while making the styles their own. Bad Seed Saison and Cloudwater Grisette pay homage to the beers of Belgian workers, while imported New World hops allow breweries such as Thornbridge to pack their beers full of the intense pine and citrus flavours that make American IPAs so widely beloved. Other breweries are experimenting with adding unusual ingredients, with beers like Celt Home of the Fruitcakes which is aged on strawberries and raspberries, and Siren & Magic Rock MRS Brown, a bourbon imperial brown ale with pecans, vanilla and maple syrup.

Whether your tastes run towards the traditional, the innovative or a combination of the two, the variety of great beer being brewed in Britain today is certainly something to raise a glass to. Cheers!

- Rowan