The summer review series moves into new territory this month as we take a look at real ales. We got in touch with the UK authority on real ale, CAMRA who helped us out with some top beer suggestions, to ensure that your thirst for beer is quenched all summer.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale is an independent, voluntary organisation campaigning for real ale, community pubs and consumer rights, and currently has over 142,000 members.
Jon Howard, CAMRA Press Manager
Jon is CAMRA's Press Manager and Head of Publicity at its flagship event, the Great British Beer Festival, taking place this year from August 7th-11th, at London's Olympia. He was kind enough to give us his expert opinion on the Top 5 Summer Ales.
Do you fancy an ice cold beer on a hot summer's day? Join the conversation on Facebook or in the box below and tell us what your ale of choice is.
Oakham, JHB - Oakham Ales, Peterborough 3.8% ABV
It’s a past Champion Beer of Britain so it’s won a few plaudits in its time, but what I like about Jeffrey Hudson Bitter (or JHB for short) is that for a real ale at under 4% ABV, it’s positively packed with hop flavours and a citrus aroma, and has that satisfying dry finish that makes you want another. There are a lot of heavily hopped IPA's (India Pale Ales) coming on stream at the moment, but this remains a stand out at the bar, and the great news is that its popularity has meant distribution to bars right across Britain.
Hop Back, Summer Lightning - Hop Back Brewery, Salisbury 5% ABV
I need to confess a personal affiliation with this fantastic beer in that it was one of the first real ales I ever tried when growing up in Hampshire. Hop Back is an incredible success story, having started life in the Wyndham Arms, Salisbury back in 1987. Summer Lightning redefined the golden ale category in the late 1980s and got people talking about what is today such a ubiquitous style. Memorable for its intense bitterness, Summer Lightning was and still is one of the industry’s most acclaimed real ales.
Magic Rock, Rapture - Magic Rock Brewing Co, Huddersfield 4.6% ABV
Magic Rock are a new brewery on the scene to get excited about, particularly due to their dedication to producing uncompromising beers with big flavour. Rapture is a full-bodied red ale containing five types of malt and six types of hops. What I really like about them is their innovative pump clips at the bar, which shows the creativity and hard work that the brewery puts into its ales. The brewer specialises in pale ales of the US variety, so if there was ever a better reason to visit west Yorkshire this summer...
Otley, O-Garden - Otley Brewing Co, Pontypridd 4.8% ABV
Mention the term ‘wheat beer’ to most drinkers and Hoegaarden will be what they associate with the beer style. But forget Belgium, if you want a great wheat beer visit South Wales, with Otley (of Pontypridd) the producer of O-Garden leading the way. A former CAMRA Champion Beer of Wales, O-Garden has a golden cloudiness in its appearance, with a herbal and orange peel aroma. With a slight hint of coriander in the finish as well, O-Garden is a pleasurably different pint for a hot summer’s day.
Acorn, Barnsley Bitter - Acorn Brewery, Barnsley 3.8% ABV
While there are a number of exciting new beers that completely rewrite conventional recipes, there's still plenty of room in the marketplace for your quintessential ‘pint of bitter.’ With that in mind, Barnsley Bitter hits the spot every time. A deep chestnut colour, a well rounded, rich flavour and a satisfying bitter finish; sometimes you come across a pint that you just identify with for its simplicity and sheer 'drinkability' - and Barnsley Bitter is it. Straight from the source, check it out at the brewery’s pub in Barnsley, Old No 7.