A while back the BBC posted a feature titled "50 things to eat before you die" and I thought at the time that this would make a good topic for beer. So in the spirit of adventure and living life to the fullest, etc. etc., I’m coming up with the 50 beers to drink before you die, in ten weekly installments listing five beers each (in no particular order, other than whatever theme I fit them into).
The theme for this week is the United Kingdom: four English beers and one Scottish.
Young’s is a classic offering of the style. Their website says:
Bursting with taste, Young’s Bitter is an easy to drink, refreshing ale with a fresh, fruity aroma that leaves a long, satisfying bitter finish. It is traditionally brewed to deliver a clean taste and is light and dry in flavour with a subtle taste of hops.
Young’s Bitter is a comfortably low 3.7% alcohol, a perfect session beer. So have more than one.
BeerAdvocate score: 85/100, 93% approval.
The origins of Porter date back to London in the early nineteenth century, when it was popular to mix two or three beers, usually an old, well-vatted or ‘stale’ brown ale, with a new brown ale and a pale ale. It was time consuming for the publican to pull from three casks for one pint, and so brewers in London tested and produced a new beer, known as ‘entire’, to match the tastes of such mixtures. Using high roasted malts, ‘entire’ was dark, cloudy and hoppy. It was also easily produced in bulk and ideally suited to the soft well-water of London. Very quickly, it became popular amongst the porters working in Billingsgate and Smithfield markets, and gradually, the beer took on the name ‘Porter’, in recognition of its main consumers.
Fuller’s London Porter is probably the best example in the world (hyperbole? Or not?) of this classic style. (I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m basing this bold claim on the fact that it’s the number one beer in the "porter" category on BeerAdvocate.) There’s a lot of good Porters out there—my hometown brewery makes a favorite—but Fuller’s is the one to set the standard.
BeerAdvocate score: 91/100, 100% approval.
BeerAdvocate score: 87/100, 97% approval.
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
And at only 5% alcohol, this (like the Bitter) makes for an excellent session beer—a little on the high side, but not overwhelming. And it may well be that you won’t be able to drink just one, as it is.
BeerAdvocate score: 87/100, 98% approval.
SkullSplitter is a superb example of this style. Plus, it has a big Viking on the label, and it’s called SkullSplitter—if that’s not a good reason to drink a beer, I don’t know what is.
BeerAdvocate score: 88/100, 99% approval.