The beers of Britain and Ireland can be roughly divided into 3 beer style-categories Ales
Porter and Stout
British and Irish AlesAles are top fermented beers (lager is bottom fermented). There are numerous styles of ales including bitter, mild, brown, pale, Indian pale, and old ale.
- Bitter Ale
A pint of bitter is probably the most common beer style alongside lager. Bitters are so called from the bitterness imparted by the hops. Bitters are usually reddish amber in color with a creamy head. Bitter is most often served on-tap in pubs, though some are available in cans.
Unlike a Pale Ale or a Mild, Bitter is dry
- Mild Ale
Mild ale is popular in the Midlands (central England). It is lower in alcohol, light to medium bodied yet flavorful and light.
- Brown Ale
Brown ale is found throughout the UK but is principally associated with the North-East of England and particularly Newcastle. Brown ales have a stronger alcoholic content are deeper in color and tend to be less bitter, yet maltier, and sweeter than pale or bitter ales.
- Pale Ale
Traditionally from the two great brewing regions of England - Tadcaster and Burton on Trent, pale ales are considered the pride of British beers. They are bronze to copper in color, hop flavored with a dry, crisp taste and slightly sweet.
- Indian Pale Ale
These ales like pale ales are heavily hopped beers and traditionally brewed for export to India. Indian Pale Ale today is stronger and hoppier than pale ale.
As the name implies, old ale is ale that is kept before drinking. Old ales are full-bodied with a nut-malt sweetness. They are higher in alcohol than pale ale but not as strong as barley wines (see below).
LagerThe term lager derives from the German 'lagern' meaning 'store' in reference to the time these beers spend in cold storage. Lagers are crisp, clean and lightly hoppy.
Porter and StoutPorter
This was the principal beer style in Britain particularly during the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th century. They are robust, heavy beers with a pronounced bitterness. Porters are dark in color but lighter in flavor than stout.
Stouts are extremely dark beers and some almost black (think Guinness). The color comes from the roasted malts/barley's, caramel malts and even chocolate malts. Stouts have a pronounced bitterness yet strong fruitiness.
This is not as suggested, a wine, it is a term used to describe the richest and strongest of British ales. A Barley Wine is heavy, full-bodied and malty with a fruitiness that is balanced out by the use of hops for bitterness.