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Top 5: Popular Types of Beer Found in the UK (and How Best to Drink Them)

With over 100 different styles of beer now available around the world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with choices as well as keep up with what the differences are. We’ve broken down some of the most common styles in the UK so you can better understand what you’re buying.


Originating from Bavaria in Germany in the 19th century; this is one of the most internationally recognised and popular beer styles. It is generally a very clear, light and highly carbonated beer with a low bitterness and a clean, refreshing taste making it very easy drinking.

The main differences between lager and ales are that it is conditioned for longer periods at lower temperatures after fermentation; this is called ‘lagering’. They also use a bottom-fermenting yeast which is left in during the lagering process as opposed to top-fermenting yeast used in ales.

Lagers are served close to ice-cold and in a tall thin glass. Modern lager glasses are generally nucleated which essentially brings out more of the carbon dioxide which gives it a better head and a nice stream of bubbles which will give you more aroma to enjoy.

Our own PIG BEER pint glass is perfect for this. You can buy yours here.


IPA or India Pale Ale is a well-hopped British beer style from the late 1700s. It’s commonly believed that the style was first created by adding the extra hops which act as a preservative in order to help it survive the long journey to British Occupied India and was popular with the soldiers there.

It’s essentially a hoppier version of a pale ale which gives it a stronger flavour than classic pale ales whilst keeping a lighter malt base and using more floral and fruity hops than other traditional British beers. In modern craft beers you’d generally expect a more American-style IPA which would be dry-hopped and carbonated as opposed to the more classic British cask IPAs.

IPA’s have been very popular with craft breweries since the 90s and are a staple of most craft breweries today. The definition is very broad as there are so many different versions and takes on it. You’ll find New England IPA’s which are hazier and juicier, Milkshake IPA’s which have lots of fruit and lactose in for a sweet dessert beer and even Black IPA’s for a darker, richer IPA.

IPA’s are best enjoyed at around 4 degrees from a glass that is thinner at the bottom and then bulges out about halfway up. This will aid in aeration and head retention which means you can really appreciate all the hop aromas from your IPA.

IPA is the bread and butter of PIG BEER. Our regulars now include SESSION, STORM and CLOUD 9. Also see our new limited edition Lingonberry Milk IPA, LINGO.


English bitter originates from the 1600s in Burton-On-Trent which is an area with a high amount of calcium in the water which gave this drink its characteristic flavour. Breweries in other parts of England will ‘burtonise’ their water to get that unique effect.

It’s a delicate balance of malt, hops and yeast where all the ingredients should blend nicely together and not overpower the others. This is a low carbonation, cask ale which is usually pale amber to light copper colour and between 3.2% to 3.8% ABV making it an easygoing session beer. There are varieties as well; best bitters are maltier and start heading more towards 4.6% ABV, and then there are premium or special bitters which are even maltier and more bitter and could be up to 6.2% ABV.

It’s a cask-conditioned ale as well which means there is still some yeast in the cask when it’s packaged which allows some extra fermentation to happen while it sits in the cellar at the pub. Bitter will be served at cellar temperature without any extra cooling.

Generally served in a nonic pint glass today or sometimes in a good old-fashioned dimpled tankard glass.


There are a few uncertainties around the specifics of the first stouts but it’s agreed upon that it was originally a stronger take on the traditional porter which was popularised in London during the industrial revolution. For a while a stronger porter was referred to as a ‘stout porter’.

The industrial revolution gave us the roasting kiln which brought black malt which would give the stout its pitch-black appearance without having to add burnt sugar which had been made illegal.

The name stout became commonly used in the 1820s and there were already a few different varieties. The stout takes more of its characteristic flavour from the barley compared to the hop-forward IPA and the maltier bitter. Completely black in colour and often a stronger beer than many traditional British ales with a low end of around 4% and a high end of up to 16% with stronger varieties such as imperial stouts.

Another style is the milk stout which traditionally used milk as an ingredient but today we just use lactose. This gives the beer a more creamy texture and a sweet edge. Our own milk stout, BLAK, also uses a little cocoa which makes it a very luxurious beer yet comparably easy to drink at 4.5%.

Similarly to the bitter; a nonic pint glass is ideal for stout.

Wheat Beer

These beers are made using around 50% wheat in the recipes and a small amount of hops. Generally a light gold colour, high levels of carbonation and a very fruity taste and aromas often compared to vanilla or banana.

A 600-year-old style originating from Bavaria in Germany that’s brewing rights were originally exclusively owned by the Degenberger clan, then the Bavarian dukes who built their own brewery (Hofbräuhaus am Platzl) in Munich in 1589. As barley malt beers became more popular throughout the 1700s the owner of the brewery released the rights to the public in 1872.

Wheat beers are traditionally served in a very narrow tall glass which curves inwards in the middle.

We have our own kristallweizen, SAUBER which is a very refreshing clear wheat beer which is filtered, unlike many traditional wheat beers.


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