Everything you need to bring the pub to you

Laveta Brigham

Beer lovers listen up. National Beer Day, also known as Beer Day Britain, is coming up on 15 June, an annual occasion to celebrate the drink by raising a glass to one of the nations’ favourite alcoholic drinks. It first began in 2015, created by Jane Peyton, a beer sommelier, […]

Beer lovers listen up. National Beer Day, also known as Beer Day Britain, is coming up on 15 June, an annual occasion to celebrate the drink by raising a glass to one of the nations’ favourite alcoholic drinks.

It first began in 2015, created by Jane Peyton, a beer sommelier, drinks educators, broadcaster and author and each year it encourages brewers, pubs, beer retailers and beer drinkers to celebrate however they like.

Previous years have seen festivals and events hosted by breweries and pubs alike, and special best of British beer selection boxes being sold.

Of course, with a global pandemic, it will look a little different this year as pubs, breweries and bars remain closed, but you can still participate by joining in the National Cheers To Beer at 7pm and toast your beer, wherever you are.

Organisers are also encouraging people to post a message on social media using the hashtag #CheersToBeer when they’re celebrating.

Whether you’re well versed in the many different types or are looking to expand your palette, we’ve got you covered for the best beers you can drink, gifts for beer lovers and subscription boxes to try.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Best beer dispensers

If you’re missing regular trips to the pub for a cold one, bring the pub to you with a beer dispenser that will deliver pints on tap from your home.

Choose a simple plastic tap and tower dispenser for quick beer access, or go the whole hog and install a system to carbonate and chill your usual.

In our guide to the best, our favourite was the PerfectDraft Hoegaarden starter kit (BeerHawk, £279.88).

Enjoy mouth-watering pints on tap at home with your own beer dispenser (The Independent)

It’s a plug-in machine for the serious beer lover, these kegs come in a 6l (around 10.5 pints) size and are easy to click into the casing and hook up to the tap. Kegs can be chilled down to 3 degrees and the easy-pour pints are perfectly smooth.

This bundle includes the machine, two kegs, a beer mat and two-pint glasses. There are 18 other popular beer kegs in the PerfectDraft-compatible range, including Stella Artois, Becks, Goose Island and Leffe Blonde, with prices starting at around £30 each.

Best beer brewed by women

The landscape of the brewing industry is changing, now bursting with women head brewers and brewery managers, beer sommeliers and bottle shop owners, bar owners and bloggers.

From butterscotch ales to citrus-sharp sours, milkshake stouts to mouth-watering IPAs, women are brewing some of the best craft beers and real ales available today.

In our roundup of the best beer brewed by women, the Burnt Mill pintle pale ale, 4.3% (Trembling Madness, £3.65) took the top spot.

No longer solely dominated by men, many brewers are now women, making exciting new flavours (The Independent)

Pouring a warm amber, our reviewer found it showcases its juicy hops on the nose with a dusting of lemon zest, and tastes crisp and bright with a subtle pine-y resin that’s offset by a delicious, but not overly sugary, sweetness, and a really generous, wholesome mouthfeel.

Burnt Mill’s head brewer Sophie de Ronde is one of the most accomplished brewsters on the scene, a former brewing technologist known for her tutored tastings and her advocacy for women in the industry.

Best Irish beers

In recent years there has been an explosion of choice in Northern Ireland and the republic, as wave upon wave of exciting, boundary-pushing breweries have opened their doors.

And while you can’t visit their stellar line up of breweries, you can get a taste of what you’re missing online, as we discovered in our review here.

We loved the Guinness West Indies porter (Asda, £1.83), inspired by an 1801 recipe from a Guinness brewers’ diary. It’s deep red with a frothy head and offers up toffee and caramel aromas, with chocolate and mellow-hop flavours.

While breweries remain closed, you can still get your fix in most supermarkets and online while in lockdown (Asda)

Our reviewer found it to be a suitable gateway to other styles for the Guinness devotee.

Best beer subscription boxes

While discerning drinkers are still able, to an extent, to get their fix at shops and supermarkets, with ever-expanding selections of great beer and cider on the shelves, these outlets simply can’t beat the reach of specialists who make it their business to search high and low for new and exciting beverages.

While trips to your favourite bottle shop may or may not resume soon, there are myriad online subscription services offering regular drop-offs to your door; and with them the chance to discover fantastic products, often from small, independent or far-flung producers which you may not have otherwise come across.

Our favourite is the Fetch cider club (Fetch Cider, £39.99) which delivers a box of 12 bottles to your doorstep. Fetch deals predominantly with specialist, independent producers which use traditional methods; from household name Thistly Cross to Bristol’s Beard and Sabre to UK cider royalty Tom Oliver and of course, plenty of Somerset and Devon cider makers.

Subscription boxes are a great way to expand your palette and try new beers from upcoming breweries (Fetch)

The selection offers a good range of fruity and medium to dry ciders and perries, plus a copy of Full Juice magazine with articles from top writers like Pete Brown and Gabe Cook. Becoming a member of Club Fetch also gets you a discount on its pick-your-own cases and 35-pint bag-in-box ciders – hard to come by for home delivery – as well as invitations to special events.

Best beer gifts

If you know a beer-lover whose birthday is coming up, there’s no shortage of ideas from a home-brew garden kit to a book on how to cook with it. In our guide to the best beer gifts, one of our favourites is The Gluttonous Gardener beer garden (The Gluttonous Gardener, £30).

If the beer lover for whom you seek is also a dab hand in the garden, a home brewer, or both, this “grow your own beer” kit is a great way for them to indulge in their interests from the ground up.

For a beer-lover looking to grow your own from the ground up, this gardening kit is perfect (The Gluttonous Gardener)

Their beer garden, grown from seeds, will contain hops, naturally, as well and coriander and meadowsweet, and be crowned with the all-important personalised slate.

We would also highly recommend The Beer Kitchen by Melissa Cole (Amazon, £14.99), a cookbook designed for those who want to merge brewing and culinary passions.

Sharpen your culinary skills with this cooking with beer recipe book (Amazon)

Recipes calling simply for “beer” didn’t cut the mustard for award-winning writer Melissa Cole, so she took things further… much further.

She breaks down the science of why you should cook and pair your food with beer, and gives numerous suggestions for just that alongside each of the 70+ inventive recipes that guarantee a beer-laced feast.

Read more

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