The B&M Beer Buying Guide: Which Beer is Best?
12 May 2020
Pilsner lager? Blonde ale? IPA? Bitter? Strong milds? With so many different types of beers on supermarket shelves these days, it’s difficult to know where to start.
Whether you’re a seasoned session ale drinker or taking your tentative first sips of lager, there’s a bounty of beautiful beers just waiting to tingle your taste buds.
So we’ve put together this beer buying guide to help you find your new fermented friend (or perhaps discover and old favourite you’ve all but forgotten!)
If you’re new to the beer scene, then lager might be your best way in. It’s light in appearance as well as taste, making it an attractive starting point for beer-beginners.
Leaving a refreshing taste on your palette, lagers like San Miguel, Amstel and Heineken are ideal for sunny beer gardens and BBQs!
- San Miguel – a sweet Spanish lager with a crisp citrus finish
- Amstel – a subtle citrus and herbal hop character with a clean bitter finish
- Heineken – premium lager beer with a refreshing taste
Real ale contains live yeast, as opposed to beer artificially injected with CO² at the pump (most lagers are filtered in order to remove the yeast used during brewing). The variety of real ale is staggering, from mild, bitters and golden ales, to stouts, porters and speciality ales brewed with fruits, herbs and spices.
B&M Recommends: Golden Ales 6pk
- Wainwright - a medium bodied taste with caramel & grains
- Hobgoblin - brewed with smooth, rich chocolate to create a caramel & fruit aroma
- Ringwood Boon Doggle - a happy aroma with a citrus punch
- Marstons 61 Deep - pale malt with notes of grain, mild caramel, fruity aromatic hops
- Jennings Cumberland - a weak, fruity and bitter taste
- Brakspear Oxford Gold - fresh, zesty fruit finish
If you’re taking the leap from crisp lagers to ales, the first thing you’ll notice is the temperature. Whereas lagers are chilled for maximum refreshment, ales are typically served at room temperature.
A golden ale is your best stepping stone from lager to ale. It’s well hopped, has low alcohol content (typically 3.8-4%) and is yellow, gold or straw coloured; a bit like lager.
But there is a brave new world beyond the golden ale, full of colour, character, bitterness, maltiness and deep flavours ranging from rich caramel in a strong mild to the dark maltiness of a 6.5% porter.
If you’ve made it this far on your real ale journey, it’s all about sampling new tastes. Branch out and be adventurous; you never know what you might like and you may just surprise yourself! (There’s a reason Guinness is one of the most popular beers in the world!)
- Newcastle Brown Ale – a full-bodied, yet smooth brown ale that’s not too heavy, with a hint of nuts.
- Hobgoblin Ruby Beer – brewed with chocolate and crystal malts, a full-bodied ruby beer with a moderate bitterness.
If the darker ales aren’t your thing, here’s something to make you hoppy! Indian Pale Ales are characterised by their hoppiness, meaning the characteristics of the hops are most prominent in the overall flavour of the beer.
Of course hops come in all kinds of variations, meaning the flavour of a particular IPA can be anything from fruity, citic or floral, to earthy or piney.
If someone was to offer you and IPA, it’s likely they’re about to hand you a lighter, straw coloured ale. But as with the wider family of real ales, IPAs come in all kinds of hues, tastes and aromas. It ultimately comes down to preference, and you won’t know which kind of IPA you like until you give them all ago (maybe not all at once – we recommend drinking responsibly, but of course you knew that).
- Innis & Gunn Toasted Oak IPA – a light, golden ale with a slight sweet taste.
- Box Steam Derail Ale – a traditional, hoppy IPA with a high alcohol content (5.2%)
Now, we couldn’t produce a beer buying guide without mentioning the black stuff. Irish champagne. A pint of plain!
Whatever you call it, there’s no corner of the world that doesn’t love Guinness. And it’s universally adored by beer lovers for good reason, with its creamy head and malty sweetness. The barley that goes into Guinness is roasted at 232°, giving it its unique, rich taste and distinctive ruby-red appearance.
Of course there are many other delicious stouts on the market, all with their own unique flavour (dark chocolate, peanut butter and coffee being the most popular), but My Goodness, it’s hard to get better than Guinness.
- Guinness – smooth, rich and creamy. What’s not to like?
*alcohol will only be sold to persons 18+ years. If our store staff believe you may be under the age of 25, they may ask you for age verification (proof of ID) in accordance with current legislation. Please drink responsibly.