Like countryside and England, as per me, Beer and England are synonyms. The type of beer which is local to the British Isles is ale. Ale is brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation or top fermentation process. There is a huge misconception that ales are warm beer. In reality this type of beer is supposed to be served at cellar temperature i.e. the temperature at which the beer was fermented. Luckily for me i spent my 15 months in the ale capital of England i.e. Yorkshire. I got a chance to taste some excellent cask ales and here are some of my favourite ones.
1. York Brewery’s Guzzler – A lighter pale ale (ABV 3.6%) which is well balanced. York Brewery from the City of York, county town of the Historical Shire of Yorkshire , had not at that point hit the imagination of most of the traditional ale drinkers. However in my view this brewery is as good as, if not better, than the traditional ale powerhouses such as Black Sheep and Timothy Taylors.
2. Yorkshire Terrier – A traditional bitter from York Brewery. ABV 4.2 %. I personally would consider this as one of the best bitters available in Yorkshire. If i had to choose between bitters this would always be on the top of my mind.
3. Ilkley’s Lotus IPA – Indian Pale Ales were created so that beers could be transported to India during the colonial days and thus had to be hopped heavily. Traditionally IPA’s are strong but i have come across some weak one’s. This specific IPA has an ABV strength of 5.6% however is golden in colour and has got a fine citrus smell to it. As per their website its a seasonal beer. I had it only once, when it was a guest ale, at the Roundhay Fox, Leeds, in September or October of last year. That one time still holds a special place in my beer drinking heart. The brewery is located in the market town of Ilkley, a 25-30 minute train ride from the city of Leeds, which is itself worth a visit.
4. Leeds Best – The strength of this beer is 4.3 %. This is a traditional Yorkshire bitter with a hoppy finish. As the only remaining brewer in Leeds, due to Carlsberg making the “wise” decision to move the production of the iconic Tetley’s Cask Ale out of Leeds, it has the opportunity to become the drink of choice for the next generation of real ale drinkers in Leeds. I have never heard of anyone crib about this drink ever. Everyone who tastes it enjoys it !!!
5. Leeds Pale Ale – A light ale with a pale ale look it has a strength of 3.8%. A great sessions drink. In my honest opinion, if you are trying to convert someone from lager to ale or are trying out ale for the first time, this is the drink to choose. Its a great cross-over drink.
6. Timmy Taylor’s Golden Best – Timothy Taylor along with Black Sheep are two icons of the ale industry in Yorkshire, and as the best ale is from Yorkshire , i would suggest are also icons in the whole of England. The Golden Best is great sessions drink and has the creaminess of a regular bitter. Advertised as the last of the “true Pennine light milds” i have put this as my favourite from the Timmy Taylor’s stable, even above the iconic Landlord, as it has a unique taste. You get loads of good bitters and best bitters in Yorkshire but i cant think of anything which tastes like this one especially when its ABV is 3.5% only.
7. Black Sheep Best Bitter – As an icon of the brewing industry it has great offerings from the traditional Yorkshire Bitters to Best Bitters to Golden Ale’s. So what makes their Best Bitter better than their other offerings ? Well if you are in the mood of having a traditional strength hoppy bitter then you can go for a regular bitter and if you want something light then you may want to go in for their Golden Best. However if you want something which is hoppy but is more of a sessions drink this is the one to go for. Its ABV is just 3.8% but due to its hoppiness you may think its a wee bit stronger than that.
8. Theakston’s Mild Ale – A mild ale is beer which is malty. It uses different type of malts such as pale malt, crystal malt and black for body, flavour, taste and texture. This mild is dark in colour and is a great beer to enjoy after some rambling. Like the Lotus i have only had this once and it remains a powerful memory and is probably the best dark mild i have ever had.ABV is 3.5%.
9. Tetley’s Cask Ale: A lot of critics consider this to be ” a boring ale” with no complicated tastes.Well i don’t care. If you are in Leeds and don’t go through the Tetley’s experience then there is the River Aire for you. If you want to be a Leeds Man or a Woman you must try this drink. I can assure the readers that at one point of time i had more of this in my veins than my own blood. However it is important that it is served properly and its your responsibility to find a pub which serves a good pint of Tetley’s. The Highlands at Cavendish Street, between the casino and the students halls, is a great place to try a pint.
10. Double Maxim ( from the Double Maxim Beer Company) – This is a brown ale i.e. made from brown malts. A strong and malty beer its the only one on my list which is not from Yorkshire. This one is from Sunderland and unlike the Newcastle one is served as a Cask Ale. Its strong and yet is balanced and is a great drink for the months of October/November. The website states that it is 4.7% but why am i convinced it seemed more than that ?