No time for ale? These are the artisan bottles to change your mind
Craft beer's dizzy rise has been hard to miss.
From fringe interest enjoyed by niche groups of older gents in possession of zero cool points, to a must-drink for the coolest urbanites on the block, it's been a pretty impressive turnaround.
Sure, the bottle's spiritual home is hipster heartland Brooklyn, New York. But with more breweries per capita in the UK than anywhere else in the world (true fact), we're not doing too badly either.
Factor in the rise and rise of women working on the scene (Sarah Warman of Scottish company BrewDog works presenting all things barley on Jamie Oliver's DrinksTube, while beer writer Melissa Cole devotes her professional life to the cause) it's high time you got in on the action.
Think you'll never love it as much as you do wine? Tried some before but wasn't enamoured? No worries. We've enlisted the help of Martin Hayes, the co-founder and MD of the Craft Beer Co., to give us his edit of the five beers to convert you to the hop-py side.
And remember – taste it as you would a Merlot: pour a little into the glass, swirl to release the aromas, sniff and sip. And just as at a wine tasting, work your way up from lighter to darker coloured bottles so as to not ruin your palette. At home, unlike fine wine, store these bottles standing up.
Now you're good to go.
1. If you like... sauvignon blanc
Try: Pilsner by Harbour Brewing (UK)
Martin says: “The subtle flavours in this light, crisp lager make it a great gateway beer for a newcomer. Produced by a small brewery in the north of Cornwall, selected Sainsbury’s stores stock Harbour Pilsner after the brewery impressed the buyers during the Great British Beer Hunt 2014.”
2. If you like... pinot grigio
Try: Pale Ale by Kernel (UK)
Martin says: “Known among craft beer connoisseurs as 'the next step up in craft beer drinking' after lager, London brewery Kernel creates ales that are fruity, light and easy drinking. Perfect for someone who already drinks lager and wants to venture into the world of craft beer. Drink it fresh!”
3. If you like... chablis
Try: Bloody 'Ell by Beavertown (UK)
Martin says: “This seasonal IPA has been highly hopped with the tropics of Amarillo and Citra, then brewed together with blood orange zest and juice. It’s a zingy, citrussy beer, which is best enjoyed on a hot summer’s day in the garden.”
4. If you like... strong coffee
Try: Even More Jesus by Evil Twin (Denmark)
Martin says: “If you're into big, bold and bitter flavours, you'll probably get on well with this imperial stout from Evil Twin Brewing. It’s a pitch black beer made with fudge, coffee, chocolate, dark fruits and muscovado sugar. It's accessible enough for a craft beer novice, yet complex enough for a connoisseur.”
Available in pubs serving craft beer.
5. If you like... bourbon-based cocktails
Try: Old Numbskull Bourbon Barrel Aged by Alesmith (US)
Martin says: “Like a fine wine, the Old Numbskull improves with age. Matured in bourbon barrels for a year, it’s a uniquely flavoured beer that exudes vanilla, oak and pecan. Well-balanced and full-bodied, with a hint of toasted malt, this copper-coloured American ale will truly convert you to craft beer!”