Research revealed today by CAMRA, organiser of the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF), shows that a staggering 11,000 different real ales are produced in the UK now – more than ever before.
Out of sheer dedication to the cause, the Inapub team visited the GBBF on Trade Day yesterday (11 August) to sample as many as possible. Although we couldn't get through all 542 beers there, nonetheless here's a few highlights for you to seek out for your taps.
1. Cwtch, Tiny Rebel Brewing Company
This year's winner of the Champion Beer of Britain competition is named after the Welsh word for 'cuddle' and was a huge hit with judges, CAMRA says.
A modern take on a traditional bitter, it is aromatic and bitter yet beautifully balanced by fruity malt flavours.
2. Venom, Potbelly Brewery
This bright green beer is a first at the GBBF. The brewery has not published tasting notes for the brew, as it wants beer fans to be surprised by the flavour, a wish I shall respect here.
Be warned though, they say it isn't for the faint hearted...
3. White stout, The Durham Brewery
Full bodied and strong (at 7.2 per cent ABV) this is made with American Columbus hops for "massive floral and resinous characters".
There's bitterness alongside forest fruit and mango notes.
4. Bourbon Milk Stout, Sonnet 43
Brewed with oats, cocoa and lactose sugar (the same sugar in milk) before being aged in bourbon barrels. Described as a, "luscious, creamy stout".
5. Pentonville Oyster Stout, Hammerton Brewery
Brewed with dark malts for a rich, roasted flavour, real, fresh oysters are then added during brewing, giving the brew a salty tang.
Believe it or not, adding oysters was once a traditional way of brewing stout.
6. Skull Splitter, Orkney Brewery
The strongest cask beer available at the festival is aptly named, with an intensity and strength more readily associated with wine rather than beer. Full of flavour, slightly sweet, and dangerously moreish.
7. Boltmaker, Timothy Taylor
Last year's Supreme Champion Beer of Britain is a classic best-bitter with a great balance of biscuit malt and fruity hop flavours.
"A great beer that is now just starting to get the recognition it deserves – a result of the brewery's flagship beer 'Landlord' being so popular for so long," says CAMRA.
CAMRA also chose the GBBF this week as the venue to award the first of the new "Badges of Honour" for pubs.