• Top 10 Best Ales in the UK 2021 1
  • Top 10 Best Ales in the UK 2021 2
  • Top 10 Best Ales in the UK 2021 3
  • Top 10 Best Ales in the UK 2021 4
  • Top 10 Best Ales in the UK 2021 5

Top 10 Best Ales in the UK 2021

The craft beer and ale scene in the UK has exploded over the last decade or so, with more and more people turning their attention away from mass-produced lagers and towards unique ales that some would class as real beer. Whether you're an old-timer or a newbie, there is plenty to sample, from bottled British classics to bestselling cans from further afield. 


In today's buying guide we’ll cover the tasting notes and suitabilities of a wide variety of styles, such as pale ales and IPAs, golden, red, cask, and dark ales – and even which is best for a stew! We’ll also introduce our 10 favourites to buy online, some from companies you may already recognise and some from rising brewery stars, all ready for delivery by Amazon and supermarkets like Tesco, Waitrose, and Asda. To the bar!  

This Article's Contributors

mybest Editing Team
  • Last updated: 04-04-2022
Table of Contents

What Makes a Beer an Ale?

What Makes a Beer an Ale?

It’s a valid question – we bet most of you could distinguish the taste of ale from, say, a lager or a stout, but there’s a fair bit of technical science that separates them from one another. The big difference is that ales are produced using a ‘warm fermentation method’, with the yeast activated between 15.5 and 38 °C. 


This means the process can be completed much more quickly, due to the higher chemical activity at a higher temperature. Also, because ale yeast is much more robust, it can survive stronger alcohol environments, which is why ales tend to have a higher alcohol content

How to Choose an Ale in the UK – Buying Guide

With an ever-growing list of companies producing vast amounts of ales, trying to find a good place to start can be challenging. In this buying guide, we're going to take a look at some of the main things you should consider when delving into the world of ales.

Hitting All the Right (Tasting) Notes: Choose What Appeals to Your Palate

First and foremost, taste! There are numerous styles to mull over, all of which can vary greatly within the broad category of 'ale', so let's get acquainted with some of them to help your decision. Of course, there are many more out there, but in the interest of making it to the bar in time for last orders, we'll be sticking to the most common.  

Pale Ales Are Great If You Want Something Easy to Drink

Pale Ales Are Great If You Want Something Easy to Drink

Pale ale is a broad term, and there are many sub-styles within it – IPA (India Pale Ale), being one of the more obvious and familiar ones.


On the whole, pale ales tend to be medium-bodied, malty and easy to sink. So, if you're planning on having a few and don't want to feel too heavy in the belly, these are perfect. 

Cask Ales Are Fantastic for Exploring Flavours

Cask Ales Are Fantastic for Exploring Flavours

Not keen on fizz? Cask ales generally have a lower level of carbonation and a fuller mouthfeel. They are also unfiltered, which means they usually exhibit more complex levels of flavour and higher aromatic notes. 


Often cloudy, they are best served at cellar temperatures, around 12 °C.

White Ales Provide a Gentle Flavour That's Ideal Company for Food

White Ales Provide a Gentle Flavour That's Ideal Company for Food

White ales are ubiquitous with Belgium, where they are more commonly known as 'witbier'. Due to the fact they are wheat beers, they tend to have a more gentle and delicate flavour


This makes them the perfect accompaniment for food, as their subtlety tends to complement, rather than compete with, whatever is on your plate. 

Red Ales Have a Unique Sweet Flavour

Red Ales Have a Unique Sweet Flavour

Red ales use a special and unique roasted malt to create their sweet and buttery taste. They use varieties of American hops to create a big flavour with a dry finish, similar to that of cider. 


They're also an ale of contradictions – whilst usually darker in colour (as the name would suggest) they often have elements of a lighter beer, being hoppy and crisp

Brown Ales Are Your Pick If You Like a Bitter Taste

Brown Ales Are Your Pick If You Like a Bitter Taste

Like their pale counterparts, brown ales are another medium to full-bodied option. However, these bad boys contain medium-roasted malt barley, which gives their unique flavour more caramel- or chocolate-like characteristics. 


They tend to be low to medium in hop flavour and aroma, and medium to high in bitterness. They're also another type of ale that accompanies food very well, such as dark meats and earthy vegetables. Definitely one for your stew! 

Golden Ales Are for Those Reluctant to Step Away From Lager

Golden Ales Are for Those Reluctant to Step Away From Lager

Golden ales were created in the 1980s to try and win over younger drinkers, who typically preferred a more thirst-quenching alcoholic beverage, like lager. 


Whilst they have the refreshing qualities of lager, they still manage to keep the flavours of ale, albeit less hoppy and more malt-forward. These are a logical first step if you're somewhat reluctant to leave your beloved lagers behind.

Amber Ales Can Be Heavy so It's Best If You Only Have a Couple

Amber Ales Can Be Heavy so It's Best If You Only Have a Couple

Amber ales are essentially a long-lost cousin of the English pale ale. They're a medium to full body beer and therefore can be quite heavy. Not ideal if you're planning on having a few!


This non-traditional variety are being brewed by both North American companies and those closer to home, and strike a good balance between hoppy and malt components. They generally have medium to high bitterness, often coming with notes of toffee and caramel like the brown ales that we introduced earlier. 

Check the ABV, You'll Appreciate It in the Morning

Check the ABV, You'll Appreciate It in the Morning

The ABV (alcohol by volume) tells you how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in any given alcoholic beverage. And, you guessed it, the more alcohol, the drunker you'll get – and the more monstrous a hangover you'll have in the morning. 


Ales are synonymous with having a high ABV, but it can actually vary wildly – in our list alone they begin around 4% and rise to almost 10%, which is a massive difference. It's best to pay attention to what you are drinking, this way you know if you're safe to crack another one or whether it's best to put it down for another time. 

Consider Which Container You'd Prefer

Consider Which Container You'd Prefer

Although there are some enthusiasts out there that stick by the belief, "All beer tastes better in a bottle", this has never been scientifically proven. However, there are some other factors worth considering. 


Firstly, cans are easier to transport, mainly because they're lighter. This is good both personally and for those of us who are conscious about our carbon footprint. They're also simpler to store in the fridge and can be crushed down when finished with to take up less space in the recycling bin. 


Bottles, however, will keep your ale cooler for longer due to them having much thicker walls – less chance of warm sediment soup at the bottom of your drink. They also tend to come in larger volumes, so if you fancy having yourself a longer drink, these will be your best bet.

Top 10 Best Ales in the UK

Now you know what to look out for when buying an ale, it's time to get in line at the online bar and see what we've got on tap for you. There's a wide selection, so you might find yourself having to pick up a couple!

10
StyleBrown ale
ABV4.7 %
ContainerBottle & can
Volume550 ml
9
StyleCask ale
ABV5.6 %
ContainerBottle
Volume500 ml
8
StyleGolden ale
ABV8.5 %
ContainerBottle
Volume330 ml
7

Tiny RebelCwtch Welsh Red Ale

Pack of 12

£32.95

StyleRed ale
ABV4.6 %
ContainerCan
Volume12 x 330 ml
6
StyleAmber ale
ABV4.8 %
ContainerBottle & can
Volume500 ml
5
StylePale ale
ABV5.9 %
ContainerBottle & can
Volume330 ml
4

Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer

Pack of 6

£22.00

StyleCask ale
ABV6.8 %
ContainerBottle
Volume6 x 330 ml
3
StyleAmber ale
ABV4.3 %
ContainerBottle & can
Volume500 ml
2
StylePale ale
ABV4.5 %
ContainerCan
Volume330 ml
1
StyleWhite ale
ABV5.4 %
ContainerBoth available
Volume330 ml

Compare the Best Ales

Image
1
Blue Moon Wheat Beer 1

Blue Moon

2
Toast Ale Session IPA 1

Toast Ale

3
Sharp's Doom Bar 1

Sharp's

4
Innis & Gunn  Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer  1

Innis & Gunn

5
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 1

Thornbridge

6
Bath Ales Gem  1

Bath Ales

7
Tiny Rebel Cwtch Welsh Red Ale  1

Tiny Rebel

8
Duvel  Triple Hop Belgian Golden Ale  1

Duvel

9
Theakston Old Peculier 1

Theakston

10
Newcastle Brown Ale Newcastle Brown Ale 1

Newcastle Brown Ale

Name

Wheat Beer

Session IPA

Doom Bar

Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer

Jaipur IPA

Gem

Cwtch Welsh Red Ale

Triple Hop Belgian Golden Ale

Old Peculier

Newcastle Brown Ale

Features

An Ale That Can Be Enjoyed by Anyone

Help Save the World by Drinking This Ale

A Top Performer in UK Pubs

Ale and Rum Working in Perfect Harmony

An Astonishingly Aromatic IPA

Gentle and Surprisingly Light-Bodied

A Former Champion of Beer With American Hops

A Sophisticated Ale With a Kick

A Brew Often Imitated but Never Matched

The UK's Number 1 Packaged Ale

Price£1.70£1.80£1.80£22.00£1.80£1.80£32.95£2.00£1.70£1.50
StyleWhite alePale aleAmber aleCask alePale aleAmber aleRed aleGolden aleCask aleBrown ale
ABV5.4 %4.5 %4.3 %6.8 %5.9 %4.8 %4.6 %8.5 %5.6 %4.7 %
ContainerBoth availableCanBottle & canBottleBottle & canBottle & canCanBottleBottleBottle & can
Volume330 ml 330 ml 500 ml6 x 330 ml 330 ml 500 ml12 x 330 ml 330 ml 500 ml 550 ml
Link

Looking for More Brews to Stock up the Fridge?

Looking for More Brews to Stock up the Fridge?

One of the best things about ordering online is that you can stock up the fridge without having to lug crates upon crates home from the supermarket. So, with that in mind, we have a few more beer and ale buying guides that you may be interested in – check them out below! 

Summary

Now that you know more about some of the common types of ales, and you have our recommendations of where to start and what to try, we hope you feel comfortable going to explore the ever-growing world of ales. We're sure there is a perfect ale (or two) for you, all you have to do is get out there and try them! Cheers! 

Author: Lewis Clark 

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