The British beer industry is booming – last year a new brewery opened its doors in the UK every other day. From small-scale microbreweries that serve the local region, to large-scale brewing powerhouses that export internationally, nowadays you don’t have to look far to find a pint of the good stuff.
To help you find the best place to wet your whistle, we’ve put together this list of the 12 best UK breweries out there today.
Established in 2003, over the years, Acorn Brewery has developed a reputation for being one of the best UK breweries. While the brand retains a strong Yorkshire identity, with beers including Yorkshire Pride and Barnsley Bitter, you can find their beers across the UK – the brewery supplies over 300 free trade outlets, as well as three national wholesalers.
This Bath-based brewery does not disappoint with its range of British beers and ciders, all sporting the iconic hare logo. Highlights of the range include; Gem, a quintessentially English beer, Wild Hare, an organic golden pale ale, and Bounders, a West Country cider. Try them at one of the brewery’s pubs in Bath, Bristol, Cirencester and Oxford, or sample them as part of a brewery tour.
As Cheltenham’s oldest working brewery, it’s hardly surprising that Battledown Brewery is a stickler for tradition, relying on tried-and-true techniques, high quality ingredients and a fair bit of expertise. You can sample its wares at many nearby pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops – the Cheltenham S.P.A. range is particularly recommended.
‘Caffle’ is a Pembrokeshire word meaning ‘tangled, messed up, or confused’ – a fitting choice for this home-grown microbrewery, which produces an eclectic range of permanent, seasonal and special craft beers with names like Skaddly Pluck, Drop Squint, Sprilly Maid and Catchypole. Many of these brews were inspired by specific Pembrokeshire landmarks, which you can visit as part of the Caffle trail.
Part brewery, part restaurant and part event venue, it’s little wonder Dancing Man Brewery has earned itself a name as one of the best UK breweries operating today. It produces beers to satisfy every taste, from Fiddlers Jig, a special bitter, to Congo Driftwood, a pale ale with flavours of mango and papaya. If you’re in Southampton, why not sample its unusual flavours as part of a brewery tour or at the Dancing Man restaurant.
ELB (East London Brewing Company) is a 10-barrel microbrewery that produces seven types of cask and hand-bottled ales, which you can find across the length and breadth of London (and sometimes even further afield) in off-licences, restaurants and over 150 pubs. We suggest you give Quadrant a try – a smooth stout that was brewed in collaboration with National Homebrew Competition Champions.
Since being founded in 2014, this plucky newcomer has fast become one of the best UK breweries around, thanks to its characterful Cornish craft beers – one special edition, The Dead Elvis, contains banana, bacon and peanut butter flavours. You can find Firebrand beers all over the UK, as well as in the Beer Cellar in Truro and Firebrand Bar & Restaurant in Launceston.
Geeves is an experimental brewery that uses big flavours from all over the world to create unique, unforgettable beers. Highlights from its collection of prize-winning beers include; Clear Cut, its flagship pale ale, and Rococo, a chocolate mild ale. The brewery delivers to pubs, restaurants and clubs in Yorkshire and more widely across the North and Midlands, and also sells a rotating range of ales at The Anglers’ Rest in Wombwell.
No list of the best UK breweries is complete without the famous Ilkley Brewery. This West Yorkshire powerhouse produces a huge range of high-quality beers, from the Scary Spice chai pumpkin ale to the Siberia Rhubarb Saison. You’ll find these, and more, across the UK and even in some parts of the US, where Ilkley brews have been going down a storm.
Inspired by Celtic mythology, Caerphilly-based Celt Experience is a brewery like no other. Beers come in three ranges: the core series, the Celt Ogham series of high-ABV beers, and the Shapeshifter series of collaboration brews. With names like Tail-less Black Sow, The Black Book and Goddess of the Spring, you know you’re in for something special.
For something a little different, try a Cloudwater brew. This Manchester-based brewery specialises in the creation of contemporary beers, all of which are made using seasonal ingredients. On Saturdays, the brewery is open for tours and tutored tastings – why not pop along and see what fresh new beers they’ve got in stock?
And lastly there’s the Scottish brewing behemoth, BrewDog, whose beers are sold in supermarkets, bars and pubs across the UK and are also exported worldwide. If you’re in Aberdeenshire, visit the brewery, which has the twin distinction of being one the world’s most environmentally-friendly breweries, as well as the first to have been built using crowdfunding.
We trust you’ll agree that there’s no better time to be a British beer enthusiast. If you know of a great brewery that deserves to be on our list of the best UK breweries, let us know below or tweet @WoodhouseTweets.
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