The UK’s drinking culture is well-known around the world. But far from being entirely focused on getting as drunk as possible, drinking has for a long time formed an integral part of British social life. One only has to look at the number of pubs in Britain to see that, not only is the Great British Pub a place to drink but also a hub of social activity for many communities.
As well as the great pub tradition, Britain enjoys a number of benefits that aren’t found anywhere else which makes it the greatest place in the world for beers. The UK has unprecedented access to American and European import beers with which to fill its cellars and Real Ales made in the UK are almost impossible to replicate abroad thanks to their dependence on the knowledge of those selling them.
As major beer enthusiasts, we have decided to explore each of these qualities to exemplify why we think Britain is unquestionably the best beer country ever.
The British pub
The Great British pub has a long history, with some dating back to the ancient Romans. The taverns set up by the Romans quickly began selling local brews and haven’t stopped since. It’s estimated that in the 16th century, there was roughly one pub for every 200 people. As pubs have continued to evolve, they remain centers of activity in rural and urban areas of Britain which many hold close to their hearts.
There are still around 48,000 pubs operating in Britain today, evidencing their continued importance in British social life. Though numbers are dwindling, pubs have still been able to adapt to the needs of the communities they serve, with most now offering food and running regular events to draw crowds through the week. As the trend of craft beers continues to grow, many pubs are also diversifying their stock to offer patrons a variety of options from across the world or to highlight particular local brews.
With their own traditions and conventions, British pubs continue to provide a unique, welcoming and engaging experience for all who enter which makes finding a good pint even more of an adventure in the UK.
Unique import opportunities
One of the other key elements which distinguish the UK as one of the best countries for beers is the access to multiple international markets. Thanks to Britain’s heritage as the creator of IPA-style beers, the explosion of craft beer brewing in the States has been reflected in the UK. Britain has seized the growth of the market quicker than on the continent, meaning more small breweries are likely to sell their beers to the more receptive market in the UK.
The UK’s position as a beer hub also means it benefits from a more open market from its neighbors in Europe, too. Unlike anywhere else in the world, UK establishments have unparalleled opportunities to craft their menus from the widest possible range of international beers.
In addition to the enviable variety of international beers available to the UK, Real Ales, which originated in Britain can’t be easily replicated elsewhere. Real Ales are distinguished from other ales as they receive their secondary fermentation from cask conditioning rather than keg or bottle conditioning. This means that cask beer must be drunk in a shorter space of time to ensure the quality of the beer remains as consistent as possible before the air reacting with it spoils the brew.
Cask conditioning is a hyperlocal process in the UK and casks of the same ale can vary distinctly from pub to pub as the specifics of the conditioning are adapted to regional or professional tastes. Cellarmen working in UK pubs have their own beliefs on how to organize the final fermentation process which influences the end result of the drink. The specificities of British Real Ale conditioning are heavily knowledge-based, which is why they are so difficult to replicate.
The UK’s proud, drunken heritage
From its place in the social fabric of the land to the rich heritage of its craft, British beer and the places that serve it form the basis of some of the greatest drinking experiences beer-lovers will find anywhere in the world.
This article was written by Damon Culbert from Hamper.com, luxury hamper distributors in the UK.