Last month we Welsh waved our daffs to celebrate St David. This month the world went green for St Patrick's Day and you English barely remember to remember St George, so it seems as good a time as any – with apologies to the Scots who don't get their day until November - to look at what defines British beer today.


It must be brewed in the UK, of course, but with British ingredients?

Not necessarily. British hops are in short supply and, in any case, there is a fashion for using foreign hops, which pack more of punch in terms of flavour.

In the absence of another definition perhaps we should even classify British beer as that which is consumed here – but that would be a nonsense.

Apart from anything else, export is likely to be the source of growth that fuels the UK brewing boom in the future, as figures from the Society of independent Brewers (SIBA) show – 16.8 per cent of its members now export and an additional 54 per cent want to export in the future.

Maybe British beer should be British in style? If by that you mean a classic "bitter" then no, that doesn't hold much sway today either.

SIBA MD, Mike Benner, calls the range of styles being brewed by British indie breweries today, "staggering...with everything from sour Belgian styles and powerfully hopped American style IPAs, to English classics such as barley wine and imperial stout."

It must, must, must be a good-old cask beer though, must it not? Again - no.

While the majority of what is being brewed in the UK is cask ale, brewers are looking more and more at kegs, bottles and cans for their beers. SIBA estimates that this year 23 per cent of what its members brew will be the latter rather than the former.

We must therefore conclude that, just like our patron Saints – some hailing from as far afield as modern day Turkey and Israel – British beers are a diverse and motley crew.

And all the better for it they are, too.

If you fancy looking for some other saints days to celebrate, take a look at our guide here.