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Cheers! CAMRA’s guide to choosing the right beer

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Ordering a pint in the pub is simple enough, but do you really know how to describe the flavours of what’s just been poured?

With more than 2,000 breweries operating across the UK, producing hundreds of different flavours and styles, choosing the right brew can be overwhelming to say the least. However, once you know the basics, sampling new brews is not only easy - it can be incredibly fun too.

At CAMRA, we believe that a good pub is the natural home to the nation’s favourite drink, and we hope that you will join us in raising a collective glass this Beer Day Britain (15 June). Don’t forget to share your cheers on social media with the hashtag #CheersToBeer to spread the word!

To help you decide what type of beer to try this weekend, follow our guide to find real ales that you’ll be sure to love.

Pale Ales and IPAs

ABV: 4% and upwards

Pale ales are traditionally brewed with pale malts, resulting in a lighter colour. Originating in Burton-on-Trent, these beers help to bridge the gap between dark stouts and light lagers, boasting all of the flavours you want without the heaviness. Similar to a bitter, they make great session beers with juicy flavours of malt and citrus fruit and a big hop character.  By contrast, Indian Pale Ales (IPA) tend to be hoppier in character with a stronger alcohol content, making them a popular, full-flavoured beer choice today.


ABV: 3%-3.5%

A traditional beer that is currently undergoing a brilliant resurgence, a pint of Mild brings with it a chocolatey character and a nutty, toasted flavour without an overly hoppy taste. This beer usually comes in a distinctive dark brown colour, which is created by the use of darker malts and roasted barley, both of which make up for the lack of hops involved. The only pitfall with Mild is that it is a rare pint in some parts of the country, with the North and Midlands being its major footholds.

Golden Ales

ABV: 3.5%-5.3%

Golden ales represent a relatively new generation of beer production, developed in the 1980s to try and prise the younger beer drinkers away from big-name lager brands. A well-hopped beer, the classic Golden Ale comes with a juicy malt and biscuit-esque character, brewed from pale malts. Look out for the tart citrus fruit undertones and peppery hops too, with hints of vanilla.


ABV: 3.4%-3.9%

Your classic Bitter comes with an abundance of flavours. Look out for tangy fruits and nutty malts, with a mix of peppery, spicy and grassy hop character – it might seem like only a connoisseur’s palate could spot those, but it’s easier than you think! Colour-wise, you’re looking at a bronze to copper shade, with the darker crystal malts making it a deeper colour compared to your pale ales.

Porters and Stouts

ABV: Porter 4%-6.5%, Stout 4%-8%

Both porters and stouts can be identified by their black and dark brown colours, thanks to dark and roasted malt being paired with the likes of espresso, sultanas, liquorice and molasses. The main difference between the two is that the dark colour in porters are derived from the use of dark malts, while stouts use roasted malted barley. Stouts also tend to be stronger than most Porters, with an ABV going up to 8% in some brews. The most common Stout is Guinness, so picture one of their iconic pints when ordering this type of beer. They also come in sweet and dry brews.

Why not put your new-found knowledge to the test this Beer Day Britain and order something different to your usual pint?

The Campaign for Real Ale is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 191,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale, ciders and perries and thriving pubs and clubs in every community.