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“What two ideas are more inseparable than Beer and Britannia?” asked Rev Sydney Smith and it’s true that beer is a fundamental part of British culture. Beer is the cornerstone of the village pub, it’s part of so many rites of passage and is far and away the most popular drink in the country. To feed that demand Britain is home to over 1000 breweries and although styles vary by region, with Scotland beer having a bias toward a darker more malty brews and the English beer favouring a lighter hoppy ale, almost all breweries specialise in top-fermented beer production – better known to you and I as ales.
Despite having a focus on ale production, Britain’s most popular type of beer is lager, largely due to mass production & mass marketing budgets by the huge beer conglomerates although the real fightback started with the establishment of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in the early 1970s & continues today with the Craft Beer revolution. For reasons covered in our real ale notes this movement is bogged down with definitions of what makes great beer. However most agree that Britain has a proud brewing tradition and stands out as one of the global ale supremos.