A couple of years ago we suggested a few indicators of a healthy beer culture. Number eight on our list was the presence of a ‘must try’ regional speciality. Having been reminded of that post, we’ve been thinking about which UK regions have something that fits the bill.
Now, we’re not talking about which beers are best or most exciting but those which in some way reflect local history and tradition, in the same way a Maß of Helles tells you you’re in Munich.
Here’s a partial list, very much off the top of our heads:
- Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire: pale ale — Bass, Worthington White Shield or Marston’s Pedigree.
- Cornwall: strong (c.5%), brown, sweetish ale, e.g. Spingo Middle, St Austell HSD.
- Edinburgh: 80/-. (It’s not unique to Edinburgh but it’s what we’d seek out if we were there for one day on a fortnight’s tour of the UK and were never coming back.)
- Glasgow: Tennent’s Lager — brewed here since 1885, in a country which went over to lager decades before England seriously got the taste.
- Kent: bitter with Kentish hops, e.g. Shepherd Neame.
- London: porter. It died out, yes, but this is where it was born, and there are some fairly authentic local examples now available, e.g. Fuller’s.
- Manchester: Manchester pale ale — historically Boddington’s, which was notably light in colour and high in bitterness; now Lees’ MPA or Marble Manchester Bitter.
- Salisbury, Wiltshire: golden ale, specifically Hop Back Summer Lightning at the Wyndham.
- West Midlands: Batham’s or Holden’s Bitter. We asked Tania, a noted fan, to summarise what makes these beers different: ‘It’s the subtle malty sweetness that kicks in at the end of each sip, once the restrained hop bitterness has refreshed your mouth, that makes Black Country bitters so easy to drink.’
- Yorkshire: bitter. A very broad region and a very vague local speciality that Leigh Linley tried to pin down here.