A Simple Guide to English Craft Beer: Popular Styles and Brands


Are you a fan of the bubbling, golden beverage we call beer? Want to feel like a true Englishman (or woman) while you sip on your pint? Then you should definitely try out some of the richly-flavoured liquor that comes from this European country.

To help you get started on your quest for the perfect pint, take a look at some of the classics of English craft beer. Each one has its own unique flavour, history and brewing process – giving you a vast array of different types of beer to explore.

What Are the Most Common English Beers?

Depending on what you’re looking for in a beer, you might prefer one English beer style over another. Some people prefer a lighter, crisp beer such as a lager, while others might go for something with a bit more body and flavour like an ale. Let’s have a look at some of the most common contenders:


Perhaps the most well-known English beer type, bitter is a type of ale that gets its name from the hops used during brewing. They’re normally light- to medium-bodied, and have a moderate alcohol content – making them the perfect choice for a refreshing pint down at the pub.

The specific brewing process used for bitter results in a beer that’s fairly low in carbonation and has a slightly bitter taste. Its flavour profile often features notes of citrus, fruit and even caramel, despite its relatively low sweetness.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

Source: smithsonianmag.com

The acronym IPA is quite popular in the beer world and refers to a strong, hoppy type of ale. The name refers to the British troops stationed in India during the colonial era, who needed a beer that could withstand the long journey from England.

Nowadays, IPAs are brewed with extra hops and higher alcohol content to give them that signature bitterness and a bit of a kick. They come in different sub-styles depending on their place of origin, but all IPAs have one common goal: to pack a powerful punch of flavour.

Brown Ale

This type of ale is, as you might expect, brown in colour and has a fairly sweet taste. It’s brewed with dark malt and sometimes even chocolate, which contributes to its characteristic flavour and aroma.

Brown ales are usually on the lighter side in terms of both body and alcohol content, making them an easy choice for a quick pint. And despite their sweetness, they often have a pleasantly bitter finish – making them well-rounded and satisfying beers.


Source: .homebrewersassociation.org

If you’re looking for a beer with a bit more body and darkness, you might want to try a stout. The signature black colour of this English craft beer comes from the use of dark malt during brewing, which also gives it a roasted, coffee-like flavour.

Stouts are usually medium to full-bodied and have a creamy texture thanks to the use of nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide during carbonation. They can also be quite strong, with some varieties packing an alcohol content of over 10%.


Commonly known as a sub-type of stout beer, porter is a dark ale that was first brewed in London during the 18th century. It gets its name from the street and river porters who were among the first people to drink it, thanks to its low alcohol content and refreshing taste.

Nowadays, porter is still quite popular in England – especially in London. The main difference between porter and stout is that the former is brewed with brown malt instead of black, giving it a slightly sweeter taste.

Old Ale

Source: learn.kegerator.com

This type of English ale is dark, strong and sweet, and was initially brewed as a winter beer due to its warming properties. The signature flavour of old ale comes from the use of Crystal malt, resulting in a beer with notes of caramel and toffee.

Old ales are typically high in alcohol content, often around 10% or more. They’re also quite heavy and malty, especially compared to other English beer styles.

Irish Red Ale

Despite its name, Irish red ale is actually quite popular in England – especially in London. The reddish label is due to the use of roasted malt during brewing, which turns the beer into a deep red hue.

Irish red ale is a relatively light beer, both in terms of body and alcohol content. It often has a slightly sweet taste, with additional notes of chocolate, coffee and caramel.

Most Popular English Craft Beer Brands

Apart from the specifics of the brewing process, another important factor when it comes to English craft beer is the brand. Some breweries add their own unique twists to traditional recipes, resulting in beers that are truly one-of-a-kind.


This family-owned brewery was founded all the way back in 1838, with the aim of producing high-quality cask ales. Over the years, they’ve built quite the reputation – from winning awards for their beers to reaching the taste buds of millions of beer lovers.

Their most popular brews include Trooper, a premium bitter with notes of chocolate and caramel; Old Tom, a strong and malty old ale; and Dizzy Blonde, a crisp and refreshing golden ale. Each beer has its own distinct flavour, offering something for every taste.


Source: sirencraftbrew.com

Founded in 2013, Siren Craft Brew is a relative newcomer to the English beer scene. But in just a few short years, they’ve sunk their teeth into the market and become one of the most popular craft breweries around.

Their small-batch beers are all brewed with a focus on quality, using the finest ingredients. Some of their most beloved brews include Soundwave, an IPA with a tropical fruit flavour; Undercurrent, a coffee porter with a smooth finish and Low Road, an American brown ale with a nutty taste.


This Yorkshire-based brewery was founded by two friends who share a passion for great beer. Vocation produces a wide range of beers, from classic styles to experimental concoctions.

Their classic beers include Heart & Soul, a rich and chocolatey stout; Pride & Joy, a citrusy and floral IPA; and Life & Death, a dark and malty old ale. And for those looking for something a little different, they also offer seasonal brews like their Christmas pudding stout and rhubarb sour.