Our exploration of the best boutique beers from around the planet resumes in the UK and Ireland, where ‘real ale’ is enjoying a resurgence and centuries of brewing history come to the fore…
26. Franciscan Well Brewery (Cork, Ireland)
There's been a craft beer boom in Ireland of late, where per capita beer consumption ranks fourth in Europe. One notable beneficiary is this amiable company on North Mall, by the River Lee, in the south-western city of Cork. The Franciscan Well brews preservative-free ales, lagers and stouts in monastery digs that date to 1219. Legend has it that the water from the site has curative powers.
27. Swannay Brewery (Mainland, Orkney Islands, Scotland)
Some of the best beer in the UK comes from a place that, incredibly, is as close to Reykjavik, Iceland, and Bergen, Norway, as it is to London. The Swannay Brewery in Orkney, where the Highland company brews beer that has won a trove of awards, most recently from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) in Glasgow in 2013.
28. Tiny Rebel (Newport, Wales)
The world of craft beer is a magnet for eccentric, irreverent types and this is particularly the case in the United Kingdom and, specifically, in Wales. Notable beer scribe Ben McFarland describes Tiny Rebel as ‘the enfant terrible’ of the scene. They make a lively line of pale and red ales and a smoked oat stout whose colour is described as ‘slag heap’. Brilliant.
29. The Kernel Brewery (Bermondsey, London)
London’s craft beer landscape is competitive. Choice and quality are both in abundance here. It behoves craft lovers to get weird in the capital, however, and make a beeline for a place like The Kernel Brewery, in Bermondsey, just south of the Thames. Here, Evin O’Riordain produces some of the quirkiest and most unpredictable small-batch ales in the city. The Waterford, Ireland, native makes a pungent Imperial Brown Stout at 9.9% ABV, but the best of the bunch may be his London Sour at a very mild 2.5%.
30. Doghouse Brewery (Isle of Man)
The Isle of Man – a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea – has a brewery legacy that unfolds like a Greek drama (just Google Isle of Man Pure Beer Act). Okells is the big name here – the brewery dates to 1850 – while others like Bushy’s are well worth a taste. But in the craft scene, Doghouse is the star. The brewery is known for pale ales and bitters, but if you want a single recommendation: the Manx Coffee Porter packs a tasty wallop.
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